Dual control vehicle, should I purchase or lease my driving school car.

As a driving instructor your dual control car is by far the most important tool you have. One question I faced in my career was should I buy or lease my dual control vehicle?
I have done both in my career as a driving instructor and I have experienced first-hand the problems that come with both buying and leasing a dual control driving school car.
I have decided to write this blog on the pros and cons of both options.

Buying a dual control driving school vehicle

This was the first thing I did when I left the large national driving school and went to work for a more local driving school that did not supply dual control cars to their driving instructors.
I thought that buying was the right way to go over leasing, at the end of the day owning the asset is preferable to not owing the asset, which I thought was perfectly logical.
Armed with my logic I went and bought a brand-new car.

Dual controls
The first thing you need to do is arrange the dual controls to be fitted if you have purchased the vehicle, if leasing a dual control driving instructor car then it will come with them already fitted.
As I had just bought a new car, I just asked the dealership to do this and for a fee they were happy to do all the arranging.
I have also done this with cars have bought privately, and you will need to look around a bit for a dual control fitter, it is not cheap I paid £380 (it was a mini automatic which makes everything expensive) but the costs do vary depending on the make of your vehicle.
Especially important is always make sure whomever fits the dual control is certified to install it and you have proof of that fact, some form of guarantee or installation certificate.
Once your dual controls are fitted, get your specialist driving instructor insurance, road tax and MOT if its applicable, then off you go! It is all straight forward!

The pros and cons of purchasing your dual control car.

I thought the main pro of buying a car was owning the asset, I paid for it and when I have finished with it, I could sell it and get some of my investment back, this turned out to be wrong in the long run.
I ended up doing between 25k-30k miles per year.
The first-year thing went well, the cars warranty covered any repair costs excluding wear and tear items, it was reliable, I had no complaints apart form the little problems you always have with a new car.
The second year was much the same as the first year I had no real complaints, if you had asked me at the time, I would have said I made the right choice.
The third-year things changed, by then the car had done around 60k miles, the warranty was no longer valid, and the vehicle became more and more unreliable between 60kand 90k miles, I started to have to cover regular and large repair bills.
One thing you must take into consideration the cost of having the vehicle off road, so not only did I have increasing repair bills I also lost income because the vehicle was off road.
When it came time to replace the vehicle, I found out that it basically had no value because of its history as a driving school car and the high mileage that the vehicle had.
If you are considering purchasing, a driving instructor car then make sure you consider the cost of everything,
1, Monthly repayments
2, servicing, particularly if you are going to do high mileage.
3, Cost of tyres
4 Cost of repairs
5, cost of having the vehicle off road in lost income.
6, asset depreciation, your car will end up being next to worthless.
And remember the running costs will increase every year you have the vehicle.


Leasing a dual control driving school car

When the Corsa I had purchased came to an end I decided to try leasing, I had come across some issues with purchasing a dual control car which I will go over in this blog shortly.
First thing was finding lease company, there are a lot of companies out there, and I would advise you research any lease company you are thinking of dealing with much as you can, remember that when you lease you enter a contract which is extremely hard to get out of so make sure you know what you are signing.
I would always advise you to pay particular attention to the following aspects of any lease agreement you make,
1, mileage allowance, how many miles are you allowed to do per year. What is the cost per mile of going over the allocated mile allowance?
2, maintenance, not all lease cars come with maintenance included. You can request a vehicle that is fully maintained but that will cost extra.
Be aware of who is responsible for making sure the vehicle is maintained up to manufacturers standard (this will be you) and what will happen if you do not keep to the manufacture’s maintenance schedule.
3, tyre policy, who is responsible for damage and normal wear and tear? At what point will the lease company replace or expect the tyres to be replaced?
4, What is the lease companies fair wear and tear policy in relation to damage and mechanical failure? Do the lease company comply with the BVRLA guide. The following link will take you to the BVRLA.
BVRLA Fair Wear and Tear | BVRLA
5, who is responsible for road tax and insurance?
Once you have made your choice of company, choose your car, sign the contract and off you go! Leasing is a lot more labour intensive than buying a car outright, more forms and credit checks and a lot more research.

The pros and cons of Leasing your dual control car.

When it was time to replace my car, I decide to lease. I made this decision because I wanted to remove the main problem I encountered when I purchased my dual control vehicle which were,
1, Asset depreciation
2, Service and repair costs
3, income loss when the vehicle was off road due to mechanical breakdown.
I eventually decide to lease with a large national company, they were not the cheapest, but their contract was the most transparent and they subscriber to the BVRLA guide.
I made sure the contract included full maintenance which included any repairs under the fair wear and tear guide, also included in the agreement is that vehicle would be replaced within 48 hours with a dual control car in case of breakdown. I signed a 3-year lease with a 30k millage allowance.
I found that my monthly payments were higher when I leased the vehicle over purchasing, but my overall costs were lower over the whole term of the lease.
When I added up the total cost over a 3-year period I found my costs were much lower when I leased than when I purchased a dual control car, this was due to not having the additional costs I mentioned earlier and a being able to get a replacement vehicle when the car was off road made a massive difference in both keeping income coming in and also being reliable to my students.

I think buying is only a good option if you are a low mileage driving instructor, which is something that most driving instructors are not. If you are likely to do 20-30k miles per year then I think leasing is the best option, driving school cars simply become more and more unreliable the longer you use them.
I personally have continued to lease dual control vehicles and I will not be changing that decision any time soon.
If leasing is the right choice for you make sure you investigate the lease company you are going to deal with, read the fine print and understand what you are and are not responsible for, and remember the cheapest lease company is not always the best.


Keep driving, stay safe and I hope to see you next time.

Graeme Howard
Franchise manager
Union school of motoring

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