Drivers skipping car care is nothing new. But a new survey shows that a fifth of us aren’t bothering with the routine servicing necessary to prevent breakdowns. If that figure sounds worrying, the proportion of drivers skipping car care is even worse in London where a third of car owners are putting off essential maintenance.
The survey, conducted by garage chain Kwik Fit in August 2015, shows that drivers in the south west of England are more savvy. This is where the most conscientious car owners live with just 13 per cent missing servicing.
Bizarrely, almost half of those drivers skipping car care are doing so in the knowledge that they’re just storing up more trouble – and bigger bills – for the future. Kwik Fit has even estimated how much this approach is taking. The company reckons an extra £154 million will have to be found for the additional work that will ultimately be needed.
But for many car owners, this neglect isn’t through choice; it’s because the money isn’t there to pay for the work to be done. That was the most common reason given for the lack of upkeep. The next was that the car isn’t being driven as much as it used to be.
Worryingly, the third most common reason for drivers skipping car care is because their vehicle is going to be sold on soon. So if you’re thinking of buying a second-hand car, this is why it’s essential that you check its service history. If you are set to buy a used car, read our guide on what to look for during the test drive.
The fourth most common reason given for skipping servicing is because the owner doesn’t think it’s required as often as the manufacturer says. In the unlikely event that the car is new enough to be under warranty, the guarantee will be invalidated straight away.
Predictably, older owners are the ones most likely to look after their cars, with just eight per cent of over-65s cutting corners. But drivers aged 18-24 are those most liable to keep their cash in their pocket, with 40 per cent of this age group not splashing out at the garage.
Kwik Fit’s Roger Griggs said: “It’s not just in the pocket where car owners can feel the impact of neglecting their car. Those looking after their car will find that it looks after them when they need it most, whether that’s starting first time in an emergency or gripping the road surface in bad weather”.
This is something that Green Flag technical expert Nick Reid can relate to. He said: “In the winter months we attend more than 13,000 breakdowns each week, and many of those could be prevented with proper maintenance or even just making regular checks. It’s not unusual for us to attend a breakdown where the car’s owner has ignored warning lights on the dashboard or strange noises from the engine, brakes or suspension.
“Some owners see breakdown cover as an alternative to getting their car properly serviced, but timely maintenance is essential. Making sure there’s enough oil in your engine, and topping it up if necessary will stop it seizing up, which can write off a car. Similarly, checking the condition of your tyres can prevent increased fuel consumption, premature tyre wear or even an accident – and such checks don’t even cost anything.”
If you’ve been putting off getting your car serviced and you’re still not convinced that you should make it a priority, read Nick Reid’s blog on why it’s so important . If that doesn’t convince you, nothing will!
Drivers skipping car care: Six ways to cut maintenance costs
- Inspect your car regularly, so you spot small problems before they become big ones
- Check the oil, fluids (coolant, brakes, washer bottle), lights and wipers at least once a month. It takes just a few minutes. Not sure how to change your wipers? Then read our guide
- Check your tyres too
- Find a good independent garage; the costs will be much lower than at a franchised dealer. Look on the Motor Codes website, for a garage that’s signed up to the motor industry code of practice
- Buy a Haynes manual and tackle some of the simpler jobs yourself
- Give your car a good clean . While you’re doing this, any damage to its bodywork, light, glass, wheels or tyres should become apparent