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So why do Sydney driving lesson prices differ greatly?

There is always someone who will do it cheaper. Good quality doesn’t come cheap, and cheap doesn’t mean good value.

One of the first things people consider when thinking about taking driving lessons is the cost associated with them. Some learner drivers will try to get by with just supervision from parents or friends and hope to pass their practical test, but the statistics show that learners who take proper structured driving lessons with qualified driving instructors always fare better.

When learner drivers do look for driving lessons though, many will only shop around for cheap driving lessons when we believe you should really be looking for affordable driving lessons. 

So what’s the difference? Cheap is affordable right?

Maybe not.

A cheap driving lesson may save you a little money up front but could actually cost you in the future, while a reasonably priced driving lesson with a good quality driving instructor will save you far more money in the long run.

In this article we’ll talk about what the average price of a driving lesson is, how driving instructors set their prices, and why you should really avoid cheap driving lessons.

How Much Are Driving Lessons Normally?

To answer this question we completed extensive research of the market for driving lessons across Australia. We analysed hundreds of published driving lesson prices and interviewed over 400 driving instructors in order to understand what learner drivers want and how much you should pay for your driving lessons.  

What did we learn from this research?

While driving lesson pricing varies slightly by location, we discovered you should always be able to find a high quality driving instructor between $60 - $75 per hour. Too much more than this and you are likely wasting money, and too much cheaper than this should make you question the quality of the experience you will receive.

We found driving instructors charging as little as $40 per 1 hour driving lesson, and some higher profile driving schools charging as much as $95 per hour.

Why such a large pricing disparity? Why are some driving lessons half the price of others? 
Well, there are several factors that can affect the price of a driving lesson and we’re about to delve into them and look at why you should be careful of ‘cheap’ driving instructors. 

We’ll start by looking at how pricing works.

What Determines the Price of a Driving Lesson?

At its core, the most direct factor of such different prices for driving lessons is the base cost to the company providing the driving lessons. The lower the cost to the company running them, the cheaper the driving lessons can be for the student. 

Some basic operating costs just to provide driving lessons include 

  • Insurance 

  • Driving Instructor training and accreditation 

  • Employee and driving instructor wages 

  • Vehicle purchasing, operation and maintenance 

  • General business overhead costs 

All of these determine the basic minimum price set by the company and you really don’t want to skip on any of them.
The driving instructors may not set the price themselves, but the price you pay is often a strong indicator of what you can expect to get.

The best teachers always have experience and a great passion for what they do. The best driving instructors will always have a steady stream of satisfied learners and parents and are therefore going to generate consistent ‘word of mouth’ referrals. 

The best driving instructors are never going to be the cheapest, they can afford to charge more because they are always in high demand regardless of their price. They also provide a reliable, safe and secure learning environment. 

If you are looking for a ‘cheap’ driving instructor, you should ask yourself about what this actually means. Surely they would charge more for their driving lessons if they were able to?

Whether it’s because is they are inexperienced, or because they only do driving lessons as a part-time side job, it’s time to take a look at 9 real reasons why some driving lessons are incredibly cheap.

How Are Some Driving Lessons So Cheap?

To give this some context, we would class cheap driving instructors as those charging $40 - $50 per 1 hour driving lesson. We are not suggesting that ALL ‘cheap’ driving instructors have the following traits, but many of these factors could be at play when you see a very cheap advertised price for driving lessons:

Inexperienced Driving Instructors

They might be newly licensed driving instructors who aren’t yet getting ‘word of mouth’ referrals. They are undercutting the market in order to ‘win’ their first customers. Whilst they could possibly be competent, do you really want to be learning with a driving  instructor who is just getting started?

 

Overstretched Driving Lesson Commitments

The ‘cheap’ driving instructor needs to be very busy to make a living. It’s hard to deliver quality driving instruction when you are racing from lesson to lesson all day long.

This type of driving instructor may be regularly late, and they may also be managing their calendar during your driving lesson including accepting phone calls from current and prospective learners while supposedly teaching you to drive. They will also seek to change your appointments regularly to make their day as efficient as possible. 

This lack of focus will mean you will learn very little in each of your driving lessons and you will make progress much slower than you would with a dedicated professional.

 

Vehicle Type & Condition

Cheap driving instructors as a general rule are going to be instructing in much older vehicles. In some cases, they may not even have ‘dual controls’. This means your safety may be at risk.

If you make a serious mistake at the wheel, the driving instructor will be powerless to take any necessary action and will only be able to give you verbal instructions.

 

‘Fly By Nighters’

These are the people who move from job to job and their latest idea is to become a driving instructor. They aren’t committed and don’t have a passion for what they have chosen to ‘try’.

If your driving instructor doesn’t have passion for what they do, they are less likely to care if you pass or fail your test, and they certainly won’t be driven to pass on life long safe driving techniques.

 

Unprofessional Conduct

We’ve regularly heard of driving instructors picking up their next learner driver during their current driving lesson to save on travel time to that next driving lesson. You might have another person in the back of the car while you are learning to drive.

Your driving route will be based on picking up the next person, not what is best for you and your learning objectives.

 

Uncommitted “Gig” Worker

With the rapid rise of the “gig” economy, often we find that cheap driving instructors are only casually providing driving lessons. For example they may be a driving instructor in the morning and a pizza delivery driver at night.

If they are working several jobs to make ends meet, what is their level of experience and how committed are they to this important role?

It may also be the case that they only take driving lessons when they have a client, meaning there could be months of inactivity between taking on learners. This gap could make keeping up with the latest developments in safety and legislation difficult, and they may forget some of the more vital aspects of learning to drive. 

 

Hidden Costs

It’s useful to remember that when advertising cheap driving lessons, companies try to play on the fact that we all like a bargain. Let’s face it, cheap driving lessons are always enticing for learners. 

Many companies will offer your first driving lesson at a significant discount and then recoup the discount on the remaining driving lessons, or provide no option for rescheduling or refunding cancelled driving lessons.

 

Less Driver Accreditation

Schools that don’t charge as much may use driving instructors that only have the bare minimum training qualifications. You may find that your experience is no different to driving with a parent or friend, and the driving instructor may not be able to help you actually develop your driving skills. This can result in you failing your driving test and having to resit which ends up costing you more.

 

Sacrificing Job Satisfaction

Cheaper driving instructors might not be invested in providing a good experience because they feel like they’re not getting paid enough, they charge less after all. You’re only using them because they’re cheap, and they know they’re getting less than other driving instructors. 
If your driving instructor isn’t satisfied then you will be more likely to clash with them while driving and spend your time feeling anxious instead of excited to learn. 

At the end of the day do know what the true cost is? And do your driving lessons provide the best value for what you’re paying? A driving instructor's role is to help you learn to drive safely, accurately and efficiently. Your driving instructor’s knowledge, professionalism and instructional approach needs to make you feel safe, relaxed and confident. 

 

So Cheap is usually Bad, But What About Expensive Driving Instructors?

Some driving instructors charge over $80 per 1-hour driving lesson and a few driving schools charging above $90 per 1-hour driving lesson.

At these prices you are less likely to have a poor learning experience however you simply don’t need to pay anywhere near this amount to find a great driving instructor.

We see no evidence that on average a $90 gets you a better experience than a $70 driving instructor. In fact, many of the larger driving schools contain large amounts of inexperienced driving instructors due to very high staff turnover, they are relying on their ‘brand’ goodwill to charge you $90. Most of these large driving schools are actually made up of independent instructors contracted to the large school with the school charging a fee on top of the instructors fee to cover their own costs.

A good driving instructor will have a large amount of satisfied learners and parents and will be able to demonstrate this based on their feedback.

So if you’re not going for the cheapest or the most expensive, how do you choose the right driving instructor?

A quality instructor will:

  • Have a passion for what they do and believe they are performing a valuable role in our society. They will want to pass on lifelong skills to you.

  • Have experience and will have honed their instructional skills.

  • Have a modern vehicle with a good ANCAP safety rating. 

  • Have dual controls fit to their car for added safety and peace of mind.

  • Demonstrate professionalism in all that they do.

  • Have many happy learners and parents/supervisors regularly providing referrals to them.

 

And they will provide this at a reasonable price that you can afford.

Editorial reprinted from EZ Licence