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How far in advance should I book lessons?

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    Hi. I know NOTHING about driving so could someone please answer my questions?


    1. How far in advance should I book lessons? (birthday is early summer)

    2. Intensive VS singular lessons?

    3. How much should I spend overall.. (looking at cheap clios and corsas?



    Thanks
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    Hi, with my instructor I paid in 10 hour blocks (about £200), and booked it each week (in other words, at the end of each lesson I booked the next one, usually same day and time). I did about 1 hour a week to start off with, moving to hour and half when I got more experienced and started doing the 'harder' manoeuvres (like parallel parking). After about 6 weeks/two months with the instructor, I started driving a few times a week with my parents. If driving instructors are in high demand in your area, it may be useful to contact one a month or two before you birthday, and say arrange a lesson for you birthday?

    As for cost, all depends on how long you take to learn. It took me about two blocks of lessons to learn, so around £400, plus £50 for a provisional license, about £30 for the theory and practical test each (so around £110 in fees) so already over £500. For driving with my parents, insurance was about £1,200 as a named driver in a 1.25 Ford Fiesta (group 5 insurance).
    For the cost of cars, with so many variables (age, condition, model, engine size), it all depends on what you want. You could spend less than £500 on an old Nissan Micra, or a few thousand on a mint condition Clio. Look for a 1.0 or 1.2 litre engine (cheap to insurance, pretty good economy). When going to view cars, take someone that knows a fair bit about cars (like a friend that is mechanic) so they can spot any major issues (like rust, dodgy engine), and try to be open minded: a few scratches or dents may look ugly now, but they're easy to repair, and while steel wheels might not be as cool as alloys, they're going to lower the cost of the car.
    The big cost is going to be insurance. If you want to be completely legal, you're looking at between £1,500 to £3,000 for insurance as a new driver (I was quoted £3,200 for a Clio 1.2 fully comprehensive as the owner). If not, and this is how most people do it, you can be a named drive on your parents insurance. This is technically illegal if you drive the car the most, but it's the only affordable way for many people.

    Finally, as for intensive vs singular lessons, I have no experience of intensive lessons, but can say I enjoyed doing them one a week. I wasn't in too much of a rush to pass, and having one proper lesson a week allowed me to stay on top of school work and other activities. It also meant I didn't get overwhelmed by trying to learn too many things too quickly, and it let me learn something in the lesson on Monday, and then practise it in the week with my dad. However, if you do want to pass quickly, and have a lot of time (say the summer holidays) then an intensive course may suit you!

    hope this helps

    Edit: Negged for this why? This is basically my experience :L
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    Just a bit of advice, do not sign up for those 10 lessons for £100 offers (or something similar), it's best to take it one lesson at a time incase you decide the instructor isn't right for you, so you don't lose out.
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    (Original post by sarahthegemini)
    Just a bit of advice, do not sign up for those 10 lessons for £100 offers (or something similar), it's best to take it one lesson at a time incase you decide the instructor isn't right for you, so you don't lose out.
    I would agree to a point.

    It is definitely worth having a 'one off' lesson with an instructor first, before you sign up to such an offer. My instructor gives every student 1 free hour to begin - he said it is a way of sussing out the student and letting them suss out him; he has turned people away after that hour, when he has thought there would be a personality clash or something, but I found it really useful. After that hour, I felt very confident to sign up to a 10 hour block - something I definitely didn't regret.

    On the other hand, when I tried a few years ago, the instructor was rubbish and I ended up being very relieved that I hadn't done a block booking as it meant I could cut my loses quickly.

    In other words, it is worth giving an instructor a go first. If you think it will work well, then you could sign up and pay for a block.
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    (Original post by sarahthegemini)
    Just a bit of advice, do not sign up for those 10 lessons for £100 offers (or something similar), it's best to take it one lesson at a time incase you decide the instructor isn't right for you, so you don't lose out.
    Pretty sound advice, especially with a LOT of dodgy instructors around. However, I was lucky and my instructor was my Dad's best mate (plus an ex police drive)
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    1. Really you don't need to book too far ahead, I think I had my first lesson within a week of talking to my instructor and then after each lesson I booked my next lesson for the week after, or even within a couple of days if I had the time and money for it.

    2. Personally, I had singular lessons, though I wasn't in a rush to pass the test.
    I've heard that single lessons are better in the fact that you're more likely to drive in all different types of weather (though I think I only had one lesson when it was raining) and I'd imagine that the intensive course is a lot of information to take in, in such a small amount of time.
    Just had a quick search and an intensive course for a beginner is about £1000 but you'd have to pay it at once, rather than £20-£30 once a week.
    It really depends on how quickly you want to pass the test and if you've got the money.

    3. It depends on your budget - you can find a car for £500+ but then if you don't know much about cars or have someone that does, it's probably safer to get a car from a reputable garage but then you're probably looking at £1000+

    As someone else said, most of your money's going to go on insurance. Co-op insurance is likely to work out the cheapest but it means that you have a device installed that monitors your driving and you can't really go out after 11. I was getting quoted between £2000 and £6000 for my X-reg Fiesta with no no claims and being a 20 year old male, so I went with Co-op's insurance for £900. It really depends on if you mind being monitored and how much you are willing to spend.
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    (Original post by ElleRussell)
    1. How far in advance should I book lessons? (birthday is early summer)

    2. Intensive VS singular lessons?

    3. How much should I spend overall.. (looking at cheap clios and corsas?
    1) I paid for 10 for £210, and arranged the time and date at the end of a lesson. The 10 for ___ deal worked out much cheaper, but I had beginner lessons to see whether I wanted to continue with my instructor.

    2) Singular. I don't think intensive courses are clever. Yes, they help you pass in a shorter amount of time, but driving is a skill that needs to be learnt. It is more beneficial to spend a few months learning and consolidating your knowledge, rather than trying to do it all in a week/2 weeks etc.

    3) Personally, no more than £1000 for a first car. You need something that will be affordable, fairly cheap to repair/tax/MOT and something that has relatively cheap insurance. Plus, if you have a bang, you don't want it to be a brand new car.
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    I started lessons 4 years ago but stopped after about 10 lessons. Both times I got an offer on 5 lessons for like £90 at 2 different driving schools 1 well known and 1 small school...both instructors were crap and all we done was drove around, only allowed to use gear 1 and 2 and not drive over 25mph. Was so glad I hadn't booked 10 or more with either of them so I'd definately say single lessons are better and if your instructor is good then go ahead and block book if you like. I've just started lessons again over the past month...I'm with RED driving school now, they do an offer which is first 2 hours just £25 total. So I booked that and the instructor I was given was good so after the lesson I decided to stick with him and I now have 2 hour lessons every thursday morning and I pay him at the end of each lesson. I've had 6hrs with him and already we've covered soo much...and have my pratical test in 12 weeks. So yeah my advice is single book...if you like the instructor block book especially if it works out cheaper and if you don't like the instructor at least you can switch to a new one instead of having to stick it out
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    1. How far in advance should I book lessons? (birthday is early summer)
    I wouldn't bother booking until after your birthday - you can't do anything until you have your provisional and there are all sorts of ways that can get delayed (I got picked for loads of random security checks, took about 2 months!) so do that first. You can always spend that time researching and getting recommendations from friends for instructors. Once you find someone and you've got your licence, book one or two trial lessons but no more - you might not like the instructor, and lots of places will do cheap introductory deals anyway (first lesson for free sometimes) so do that to try it out. After that, it depends on the school - when I was with a big driving school, I would ring up and book blocks at a time, and when I was with an independent instructor, we'd just sort out the next few sessions as and when.

    2. Intensive VS singular lessons?
    I started with one 2hr lesson a week, but didn't find I made much progress until I switched to 2 per week. When I got closer to my test, I actually took fewer lessons (had all sorts of problems with instructors and ended up switching around a lot, which was the main reason) - just a few before each test to freshen up. I would say start with one or two lessons a week and see how you find it. I wouldn't recommend 1hr lessons, at least not to start with, as I found it took me a while to get back into driving and to get back up to where I'd been at the end of the previous lesson. Could be something worth looking into though after you get better, or if you are able to drive between lessons (my parents wouldn't let me drive their cars until I was test standard, so if I had a lesson Monday and the following Friday, it was almost 2 weeks between lessons).

    3. How much should I spend overall.. (looking at cheap clios and corsas?
    I agree with people who've said about a grand or not far under is realistic....you can get cars for cheaper, but it's likely to break down on you or be badly repaired. Likewise, you could buy a more expensive car but you don't want to trash it and it'll likely be more expensive to insure. The one thing not to be put off by is dents and scratches - they can take down the value of a car without actually affecting how it runs.
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    (Original post by sarahthegemini)
    Just a bit of advice, do not sign up for those 10 lessons for £100 offers (or something similar), it's best to take it one lesson at a time incase you decide the instructor isn't right for you, so you don't lose out.
    Ah that's a good point! I didn't think of that.
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    Even if you pre-pay, any decent instructor will refund you should you cancel. My old instructor charged £22/hr, but you could pre-pay for 10 hours to be used for 5x 2 hour lessons for £190. Based on the DSA average of 47 hours of tuition, that would save you over £240.

    Two hour lessons are also a really good idea, as in every lesson you or the instructor could be a couple of minutes late, you have to set your seat and mirrors, discuss what you did last time and what you're going to do, you may need a short drive to a suitable practice area or to get to the test routes maybe, and at the end there'll be the drive home, debrief and booking of the next lesson, which all eats into a very rapidly diminishing hour, and then you might get stuck in traffic at some point where you learn little to nothing for several minutes or more. Adding a second hour whilst you're already out there doing the job means you'll get 100% of that second hours value of learning.
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    It worries me that future student use the words "Dodgy Instructors". You do need to understand the way the the Driving Standards Agency licences Driving instructors. For all the information CLICK HERE.

    Also have a word with friends and family and see who has used which instructor and what the results are.

    If anyone calls me, with this worry, I will offer them a free lesson, and if they like it and learn something, then we can continue.

    Drive safe.

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