Upgrading to a seven-seat car costs an average of £10,000 on purchase costs alone.

Having children can increase a couple’s motoring costs by as much as three times, according to new research.

A study by MoneySupermarket found that although a couple’s motoring costs can be as low as £9,000 per new vehicle bought and owned, large families may have to spend as much as £33,000 over a vehicle’s lifetime in order to keep the whole family mobile.

The consumer organisation discovered that while a couple can be transported in an Aixam 500-5, which costs £5,999 to buy and just £3,282 to run over its lifetime, families would incur significantly higher costs thanks to the larger vehicle.

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According to MoneySupermarket, the average cost of a five-seat car is £13,165, and even some of the cheapest five-seat models, such as the Dacia Sandero, cost more than £12,500 to run over the course of their lifetime.

The problem is even worse for those having a fourth child or wanting to move up to a seven-seat vehicle. MoneySupermarket says the average seven-seater costs £23,420 – around £10,000 more than the average five-seater. And although the company says the Peugeot 5008 is one of the cheapest seven-seat cars to own, even that will cost a family around £33,000 over the course of its life.

Kevin Pratt, from MoneySupermarket, said: ‘There are loads of things to think about when having more children, and money matters are high up the list. And when it comes to money, being able to afford a larger home and a bigger car are two significant challenges that need to be taken into account.

‘If you’re upgrading from a five-seater to a seven-seater vehicle, you might reasonably expect to pay a higher price on the forecourt. But what about running costs thereafter? We were shocked to find that the expense of running a bigger car can triple the amount you spend, sending it towards £30,000 over the car’s lifetime.

‘It would be wrong to boil down decisions about extending a family unit to the affordability or otherwise of a bigger car, but such things can make a huge difference to quality of life when the new arrivals are on the scene. We’re glad our research has shed light on some previously unforeseen expenses.’