What is a typical annual mileage for car drivers in the UK?

Wondering what the average annual mileage for a car is in the UK? We've got all the answers…

aerial car driving along road
(Image credit: Getty)

A car’s annual mileage is something that affects a vehicle’s maintenance costs, your insurance premiums, and, if you’re buying a car on finance, how much you pay per month, so it’s vital to get an idea of the typical annual mileage for car drivers in the UK as well as work out how many miles you drive per year.

It’s also a good figure to know if you’re buying a car second hand, as you can work out if a car has lived a hard life, and done many more miles over the national average, or an easy life, only used to go to the supermarket every Saturday.

Luckily you’ve come to the right place, because we’ve found out the average annual mileage for car drivers in the UK and how to work out how many miles you drive in a year.

(MORE: Best cars for older drivers)

Typical average annual mileage for cars in the UK

With seemingly more cars on the road than ever and traffic jams on every other street, you would be forgiven for thinking that the average annual mileage in the UK is rising, but it’s actually falling.

According to the government’s National Travel Survey, motorists drove an average of 9,200 miles back in 2002 compared to just 7,900 miles per year in 2013.

In 2019, the average car in the UK drove 7,400 miles – that’s down a massive 20-percent than the figure in 2002. 

This is due to a drop in business driving and private driving, with commuting mileage holding steady at 2,700 miles a year on average per car. From 2002 to 2019, business mileage and private driving were down 900 miles and 700 miles per year, respectively.

There are also different trends depending on the type of car. For example, the estimated average annual mileage was higher for diesel cars than petrol cars, at 9,400 miles and 6,300 miles respectively. Company cars also have a much higher annual mileage than privately owned cars – at 18,400 miles compared to 7,200.

In 2020, due to a nationwide lockdown during the pandemic, the average annual mileage for UK drivers saw a sharp decrease, with the Department of Transport predicting a drop of as much as 21.3% compared to the previous year. That would see the UK’s average annual mileage at just 5,920 miles in 2020.

Calculating your own annual car mileage

If you want to calculate how much you drive a year, whether you're trying to figure out how many miles to declare on your car insurance or wondering how many miles to add to your lease scheme, use the simple calculation below to get an idea of your annual mileage based on your daily or weekly mileage.

  • Record the number of miles you cover in a day or a week. You can do this by taking note of the car’s mileage at the start of the day/week, then minus this number from the mileage at the end of the day/week.
  • You can then multiply this figure by 365, if you recorded a day’s mileage, or 52, if you recorded a week’s mileage.
  • Remember to add a little extra for any longer trips such as visiting family or holidays.
  • You can also look at your car’s MOT certificates, as these record your annual mileage.

It’s important to declare enough miles when applying for car insurance, as don’t doing so could invalidate your policy.

How often is a car in use or parked?

According to the RAC Foundation, the average car spends about 80-percent of the time parked at home, 16-percent of the time parked elsewhere, and just 4-percent of the time actually in use.

In 2018 (the latest figures available) 9-percent of household vehicles were parked in a garage overnight, 63-percent were parked on private property (but not garaged), 25-percent were parked on the street, and 2-percent were parked in other places.

How old is the average car?

At the end of 2020, the average age of a licensed car in Great Britain was 8.6 years. Petrol cars are, on average, older than diesel cars, with an average age of 9.3 years and 8 years respectively.

What is the average annual mileage of new cars in each of the first three years after they are registered?

The RAC Foundation has also carried out research into the average annual mileage of new cars in the first three years after they’re registered. The analysis revealed that cars cover 10,377 miles in each of the first three years after they are registered – the equivalent of 28 miles per day. 

There are, however, big differences between cars of varying make, model and fuel type. 

For example, new diesel cars will travel an average of 12,496 miles per year, compared to petrol cars, which travel 7,490 miles and electric cars, which cover 9,435 miles. More details about the RAC Foundation study can be viewed here.

Which local authorities have the highest traffic levels?

The local authority with the highest traffic level is Essex with 8.056 billion vehicle miles, followed by Hampshire (7.997 billion vehicle miles) and Kent (7.866 billion vehicle miles).

The top five local authorities with the highest traffic levels are all in the South East and East of England, all of which have relatively large road networks and some of the major UK motorways.