Cheaper used car tax: road tax rules before April 2017

How to pay less car tax: choose low-emission cars registered before April 2017 and high-emission models registered after

Matt Rigby
Aug 31, 2019

Before 1 April 2017, the system for applying vehicle tax to cars was heavily focused on encouraging drivers to buy cars that emitted as little carbon dioxide (CO2) as possible, in an attempt to limit vehicles' contribution towards global warming.

As a result, cars that duck under the threshold of 100g/km of CO2 emissions – which includes large numbers of petrol-powered small cars and diesel-powered larger ones, as well as zero-emission electric cars and many hybrid models – attract no tax at all. Tax costs are very low for cars emitting up to 120g/km CO2, too.

Conversely, the pre-2017 vehicles that emit the most CO2 according to official figures still attract a hefty tax – potentially up to well over £500 per year. Even so, many popular car models first registered before 1 April 2017 can be significantly cheaper to tax than identical models registered after this date.

 

Why a used car might get you a cheaper tax rate

Since 1 April 2017, all brand new cars have been taxed under a new system, which is substantially different and will cost most owners considerably more each year.

Some drivers will find themselves paying several hundred pounds a year for cars that used to qualify for free tax and virtually everybody must pay an annual fee. So if you buy a used car that was first registered between 31 March 2001 and 31 March 2017 you could potentially save yourself a lot of money.

Among the hardest hit under the new system are the hundreds of thousands of people who buy low-emission cars. These vehicles used to be exempt from road tax, but are now subject to more than £400 in tax over three years.

On the other hand, high-emission cars registered from April 2017 onwards that cost less than £40,000 new may work out far cheaper to tax on the new system. Read our guide to car tax for vehicles registered from April 2017 onwards to understand how costs for more recent models compare.

 

How much is my car tax if I go for a car registered before 2017?

All cars produced since 2001 have an official CO2 figure. Vehicles that emit 100g of carbon dioxide or less per kilometre driven (100g/km CO2), are exempt from tax.

This means that many of the cars with the lowest tailpipe emissions, such as zero-emission electric vehicles, and hybrids, are exempt from car tax. Even so, the majority of cars still produce more than 100g/km CO2. These are are classified into different bands and taxed on a sliding scale, shown in the table below.

If your car is a hybrid, or powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), then they are taxed as alternative fuel cars. The rates for those are further down the page.

 

Car tax prices for vehicles registered between 2001 and 2017

CO2 emissions

Car tax band

Annual car tax cost

Up to 100g/km

A

Free

101 - 110g/km

B

£20

111 - 120g/km

C

£30

121 - 130g/km

D

£125

131 - 140g/km

E

£145

141 - 150g/km

F

£160

151 - 165g/km

G

£200

166 - 175g/km

H

£235

176 - 185g/km

I

£260

186 - 200g/km

J

£300

201 - 225g/km

K

£325

226 - 255g/km

L

£555

Over 255g/km

M

£570

*Vehicles producing more than 225g/km but produced up to March 2006 fit into tax category ‘K’

 

How much is car tax for an alternative fuel vehicle?

Alternative fuel cars are powered by something other than just a petrol or diesel engine. These include hybrids, as well as vehicles that run on compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). They typically benefit from car tax that’s £10 cheaper than conventionally-powered cars.

CO2 emissions

Car tax band

Annual car tax cost

Up to 100g/km

A

Free

101 - 110g/km

B

£10

111 - 120g/km

C

£20

121 - 130g/km

D

£110

131 - 140g/km

E

£130

141 - 150g/km

F

£145

151 - 165g/km

G

£185

166 - 175g/km

H

£220

176 - 185g/km

I

£240

186 - 200g/km

J

£280

201 - 225g/km

K

£305

226 - 255g/km

L

£530

Over 255g/km

M

£545

 

Read more about:

Latest car buying advice

  1. Cash vs finance: how to budget for a car

  2. Second-hand HP (Hire Purchase finance)

  3. Should I buy an electric car?

What our customers say