Drivers are unaware of simple car maintenance checks that could cause safety hazards

Two men servicing a car.

Owning a car comes with the responsibility of upkeep, but many drivers don’t know how to properly maintain their car. Uswitch car insurance recently conducted research to investigate what car maintenance checks drivers lack knowledge on the importance of, possibly neglecting essential upkeep. The survey also digs into where drivers seek advice on looking after their vehicle.

Main maintenance checks drivers are neglecting:

The research demonstrated that drivers are not well informed about car maintenance checks, including not knowing how to carry them out and not performing them frequently enough.

A staggering 67% of drivers stated that they are unaware of how to check their car’s battery health and less than one in four (22%) check their battery before a long drive. Monitoring battery health is important as battery issues are the leading cause of breakdowns in the UK[1]. Spotting issues before the battery fails completely can also help save money, since replacements cost up to £400[2].

Additionally, almost two in five (37%) drivers admitted they don’t know how to check that their exterior lights are in working order and 61% don’t check them prior to a long drive. Exterior lights not only help you see the road, but help other road users see your car. It’s also a legal requirement to have two fully working brake lights, with potential penalties being anything from a verbal warning, to a £60 fine and three points on your licence, or you could even get your car towed[3].

Almost two-fifths (37%) of drivers also admitted they don’t know how to check their car’s tyre tread depth. Tyre tread depth reflects the tyre’s ability to grip the road; as the tyre wears down, their grip decreases posing a danger to the driver. The legal minimum tread depth in the UK is 1.6mm[4], with those who fail to meet this facing a fine of £2,500 and three points on their licence per tyre[5].

Furthermore, a quarter (25%) of drivers stated they’re unaware of how to check the oil level in their car. Checking your oil levels is essential for engine health because the oil is responsible for preventing friction between metal engine parts as well as keeping the engine cool and clean.

Regular car maintenance is essential for ensuring driver safety, fuel efficiency, optimal performance, preventing unexpected repair costs and helping retain the car’s value. Most modern cars alert drivers when maintenance is due through dashboard warning lights, but it’s best practice to consistently monitor the condition of your car, especially since one in six (15%) cars lack any automatic alerts.

Top 5 car maintenance information sources:

Although the majority (41%) of drivers seek car maintenance advice from friends and family, the car’s handbook or manufacturer is the best place to obtain information, since the guidance will be personalised to the vehicle’s specific make and model.

The most popular online source is YouTube (32%), demonstrating that many drivers value visual tutorials.

Information source:% of respondents: 
Friends / Family41%
Car handbook39%
Car manufacturers36%
Online advice sites19%

Uswitch car insurance expert, Leoni Moninska, shares tips on steps you can take to ensure you’re properly caring for your car:

  • Write a maintenance checklist: It can be useful to make a list of each car part that should be checked prior to a long drive to ensure your safety, optimal performance of the vehicle and prevent breakdowns mid-drive. The most important aspects to check are fuel level as well as tyre and battery health, but even parts like your windscreen wipers should be inspected, as they’ll be crucial if you encounter bad weather.
  • Prepare for professional services: On top of carrying out maintenance checks at home before a long drive, or within the timeframe recommended by the manufacturer, you should also inspect your car before a professional service. UK drivers have professional services done every nine months on average. Checking your vehicle prior to the service means you’ll be aware of any necessary repairs so you won’t be caught off-guard or be quoted for something unnecessary. It also allows you to financially prepare, comparing prices from different mechanics to find the best deal.
  • Know your car terminology: Car maintenance can be daunting, but being clued up on the relevant terminology can make the process clearer by helping you better understand your vehicle and follow instructions more easily. It will also help when you attend professional services, as you will understand any issues flagged and be able to engage with the mechanic. Uswitch partnered with KwikFit to create an ‘AutoLingo’ translator tool to simplify car terminology.

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top