Motorway’s free ULEZ Checker tool helps you get ahead of potential fines issued in all of the UK’s Clean Air Zones, as well as other unexpected costs

Does ULEZ affect drivers outside of Greater London? Well, yes and no. Although you’ll only have to pay the daily charge (or a penalty) if you drive a non-compliant vehicle through London’s ULEZ, the truth is that if your car doesn’t have a compliant engine rating (Euro 4 for petrol and Euro 6 for diesel), you could miss out in several other key ways, no matter where you live. 

Checking your ULEZ compliance will give you peace of mind over many motoring costs, and is always free on Motorway

Avoid paying fines in Clean Air Zone

The UK now has eight live Clean Air Zones (CAZs) that charge non-compliant private car drivers, and a further four charging vans. If you travel through Aberdeen, Bath, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Newcastle, Oxford, or Sheffield, it’s vital to check your compliance in order to avoid a penalty. Take note that the Scottish Low Emission Zones in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, and Glasgow do not offer an option to pay a daily charge; they go straight to penalties. Unless you are OK with a penalty charge, you may wish to avoid driving a non-compliant vehicle through these centres.

Penalties are issued when you fail to register your journey in or through a charging CAZ by a certain deadline, which can vary from three days after your journey, to a week. It’s key to look up CAZ regulations when travelling around the UK in order to avoid these fines. When you’re issued a penalty, automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras record your reg, and the penalty is sent by post to the registered address of the vehicle’s keeper according to the V5C logbook. So, if your paperwork isn’t up to date with your current address, you can risk your penalty compounding due to non-payment.

All CAZs have the same compliance standards as ULEZ; namely that all petrol vehicles must have engines rated at least Euro 4 (most cars first registered since 2006 should be compliant) and all diesels must comply with at least Euro 6 (again, most cars first registered since 2016 should fit the bill). You can find your Euro standard marked in your V5C logbook, or use Motorway’s free ULEZ Checker for peace of mind before you travel.

Keep an eye on your running costs

In 2022, fuel and electricity costs rocketed, forcing some motorists, including EV drivers, to reassess their running costs. Older cars that are not ULEZ-compliant are typically going to be less fuel-efficient, as well as higher polluting. As we approach the 2030 electric switchover and work towards net zero emission goals, it’s possible that traditional fuels like petrol and diesel will become subject to higher taxes and tariffs in the future. 

Driving a ULEZ non-compliant vehicle could end up meaning much higher fuel costs over the next few years. By checking your compliance now, for free, you can be assured that your engine is deemed to be efficient enough to not get charged in most CAZs. However, it will be worth keeping an eye on the running costs versus electric cars as we progress through the 2020s.

Don’t let non-compliance drive down your value

Drivers in and around ULEZ, as well as all the CAZs and LEZs around the country will need to upgrade their cars to compliant models if they wish to avoid daily charges, fines and even penalties. This extra demand for compliant vehicles means your value could be really strong (if you have a ULEZ-compliant car), especially one in good condition with relatively low mileage.

On the other hand, non-compliant cars are losing value quicker, and these falls in value could accelerate in the future as more CAZs are launched nationwide. In the case of petrol cars, non-compliance will generally mean the car is old anyway as Euro 4 has been the norm since 2006. 

However, some diesel drivers, especially those with low mileage, non-compliant vehicles less than 10 years old are in danger of getting much less value out of their vehicles than they would have thought. If you have a non-compliant vehicle that you want to sell, the best way to get a good price is to sell it on a nationwide marketplace like Motorway. That way, a dealer from anywhere in the country can buy and collect your car, regardless of the clean air regulations where you live. 

It’s key to know whether or not your vehicle is compliant, so you don’t get caught out once you’re ready to sell. Check your compliance instantly and for free with Motorway’s ULEZ Checker. Then, you can enter your reg and mileage for a free, instant valuation to see what your car, compliant or non-compliant, could fetch on Motorway today.

Withstand changes to regulations and policy

There are no guarantees that various aspects of motoring, such as emission zones, car tax bands, fuel tariffs, parking restrictions, and insurance levels won’t continue to be subject to change throughout the 2020s. With net zero targets in place and the majority of the people in favour of greener policies, non-compliant vehicles will inevitably become subject to higher and higher charges. 

By checking your ULEZ compliance now, you’ll know whether ongoing changes are likely to affect your running costs, and you’ll be able to plan a time to sell that suits you and your finances.

Consider your environmental impact

Compliance is set at Euro 4 and Euro 6 regulation based on the emissions recorded from engines built to those standards. Particulate matter, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, and other harmful pollutants are measured in each ‘Euro’ classification that gets published. Diesel is held to a higher standard than petrol in regulated emission zones in the UK, because it’s known to emit more carcinogenic compounds at street level. In other words, it’s much worse for the health of drivers, pedestrians, and the environment in general. 

Brentwood Live: ULEZ expands to cover the whole of Greater London at the end of August 2023, joining over a dozen other charging Clean Air Zones in the UK, with more being considered.ULEZ expands to cover the whole of Greater London at the end of August 2023, joining over a dozen other charging Clean Air Zones in the UK, with more being considered. (Image: Getty Images)

If your vehicle is ULEZ compliant, you can be reassured that it’s not among the highest polluting vehicles. However, if it’s not, you should think about where and how you drive.

The following driving habits exacerbate the pollution levels of non-compliant vehicles, as well as petrol and diesel engine vehicles in general:

  • Idling (burning fuel when stationary is wasteful and polluting)
  • Driving style (rapid acceleration, speeding, and harsh braking all increase fuel consumption compared to smooth driving, leading to higher emissions)
  • Overloading (forcing the vehicle to take more weight leads to increased emissions)
  • Neglecting maintenance (if your vehicle is older, or non-compliant, it’s likely to need regular maintenance to ensure good fuel efficiency and as low emissions as possible. This includes keeping your tyres properly inflated)
  • Using air conditioning versus ventilation wisely (air conditioning systems run from the fuel, so can be wasteful. However, driving at high speeds with windows open creates a lot of drag, forcing the car to use more fuel. Use windows at low speeds, and A/C (or non-temperature-controlled ventilation) at high speeds)
  • Fuel type (premium fuel, unless your car absolutely needs it, is redundant. It is more costly to produce and to buy, only adding value to the fossil fuel industry)
  • Trip lengths (it’s key to avoid driving when it’s unnecessary if your car is highly polluting, or non-compliant. Try to reduce frequent, short trips, especially in cold weather, and instead opt for carpooling, journey planning, and using more public transport)

The best way to sell your car, regardless of compliance

If you’re thinking of selling your car or van due to its compliance status, look no further.

Motorway offers a simple – and completely free – way to sell your car for a great price, whatever the model and whatever the compliance status. Whether you’re looking to cash in on unexpected value, or sell a non-compliant vehicle before you start having to pay ULEZ or CAZ charges, it’s easy to sell on Motorway.

Just enter your reg on the homepage and you’ll be provided with an instant estimated sale price based on up-to-the-minute market data. We’ll then ask you a few easy questions about your vehicle and guide you through vehicle profiling. It can be done right from your phone – in a matter of minutes.

If you choose to enter your car into a daily sale, it’ll be shown to our UK-wide network of more than 5,000 verified dealers who will compete to give you their best price.

In as little as 24 hours, you’ll receive your best offer – and, if you choose to go ahead with the sale, your car will be collected for free by the dealer and the money will be quickly and securely transferred to your bank account.