Borrowing your friend’s car with their permission can be fun, practical in tight circumstances, and with the necessary paperwork, it can be totally legal.

You may need to borrow a neighbour’s car at short notice, to drive to a sports event when you discover your own car has a flat battery.

Alternatively, you might agree to borrow a friend’s large van to help you move house.

This usually only happens on rare occasions, but they can make the difference between a plan hanging together or falling apart. In some cases, it can even save you a lot of money compared to renting a vehicle from a company.

We’re going to run over four things you should know before borrowing your friend’s car


You’ll need their permission

Borrowing a friend’s car without their permission has a simpler name, theft.

Therefore, you should always gain your friend’s full permission by asking them very clearly and being realistic about the length of the time you will need the vehicle for.

It is not mandatory, but we recommend that you get their permission. If you are stopped routinely by police, they will always conduct a quick check to see who is the registered keeper of the vehicle.

You will be relieved to hold a short, signed statement from your friend to show a police officer, as their suspicions may be aroused when they learn that you are driving a vehicle that isn’t owned by you or a family member, as this is unusual.


You’ll need insurance

Car borrowers drive without temporary car insurance at their peril. It is against the law to drive a vehicle without at least ‘third party’ vehicle insurance. The penalties for being caught without insurance include a monetary fine, the impounding of the vehicle and your license could be revoked.

When borrowing a car in an emergency, the complexities of insurance paperwork may feel like a trivial concern but this is an essential step in taking responsible control of a vehicle. It’s as necessary as asking for the keys themselves.  Temporary car insurance providers make it very easy to quickly purchase a one-off policy that will allow you to drive away within an hour.


If you’ve driven one car, you’ve driven them all

Drivers with lower confidence may feel intimidated by the idea of driving a new car. When that car is treated as a precious family member by a friend, this ratchets up the pressure even further!

However, to set your mind at ease, we want to remind you that all cars work in a very similar way. Although gear levers, handbrakes and steering wheels may have a slightly different aesthetic, it will not normally take you much longer than an hour to feel at home in a different vehicle to what you are used to driving.

If your friend has an automatic car, this applies even more so. Automatic vehicles are very easy to drive, even if you have only driven manual vehicles before. That’s because they simplify elements of the driving experience.

Remember that children aged as young as 6 can competently drive go-karts with similar controls to an automatic vehicle!


Be aware of your width

If you’re used to driving a small, compact vehicle you may need to pay active attention to the width of the car you are borrowing.

Unlike the whiskers of a kitten, you will get a little warning that your car will not fit through a tight gap in traffic until you physically make contact.

Err on the side of caution by driving your car as if it were the size of a bus or an HGV. There’s no harm in maintaining too-much space around your vehicle, and gradually reducing this as your confidence increases.

Nobody scrapes the side of their car on a wall on purpose – what you’re trying to avoid here is making an automatic judgement based on your ‘gut feel’ which was honed from a tiny car.