Motorists forgo holidays to afford car repairs

Motorists cutting holidays to afford car repairs

New research shows 34 percent of motorists have sacrificed travel plans to afford car repairs. That figure rises to 44 percent for younger drivers between 18 and 24 years old.

The average cost of an unexpected car repair adds up to £584.48 – and 76 percent of the 2,000 drivers surveyed said they’ve been lumped with such a cost. So how are those who need to cut back, cutting back? Nearly half (47 percent) percent have sacrificed a holiday from their near-future plans.

One in three have also cut back on birthday gifts for friends and family. And 12 percent have even postponed their wedding plans to free up funds. Christmas frequently takes a hit, too, with 40 percent saying they have slashed the festive budget to cover a potential motoring bill.

Costs lead to putting off repairsMotorists cutting holidays to afford car repairs

In total, 22 percent of drivers have struggled to pay an unexpected car bill. That rises to one in three for younger drivers. Attempts to cover the cost include borrowing money from friends and family (33 percent), using a credit card (52 percent) and selling possessions (three percent).

Worryingly, many drivers put off repairs when they know their car needs them. More than a quarter (27 percent) said they’d done so due to cost worries – and 16 percent said they’d actually broken down because of a known issue.

One in four have actually scrapped or sold a car due to a repair they couldn’t afford. And 18 percent have worsened an issue with bad DIY repairs.

Motorists cutting holidays to afford car repairs

“Getting an unexpected car repair bill is an unwelcome surprise at the best of times, but we were shocked at how many drivers are putting off repairing their car or sacrificing holiday spending to afford essential repair work,” said Martin Barber from Halfords, which commissioned the survey.

Danger, high voltage! 11 percent don’t know where their car battery is

Car batteryMore than one-in-10 drivers don’t know where their car’s battery is located, despite flat batteries being a leading cause of winter breakdowns.

A survey of 2,000 UK adults also found nearly a third (30 percent) have never checked their car battery, while more than half (53 percent) haven’t done so within the past five months.

This lack of battery TLC could cause problems tomorrow (2 January) as many motorists return to work – and cars left idle over the Christmas break refuse to start.

Equally, while older cars might require a straightforward jump-start (via leads connected to a healthier car, to boost the battery and start the engine), this process can overload the electronic systems of modern vehicles, leading to greater problems.

You can cause damage – or even invalidate your warranty – if you attempt a jump-start using a hybrid or electric car. If in doubt, call your breakdown service provider.

Car battery warning light

The poll, commissioned by Halfords, also reveals 42 percent of motorists don’t know how to fix their car battery if it dies. Yet many have noticed the early-warning symptoms.

In total, a third (31 percent) of drivers have heard a clicking sound when they turn the ignition key, a fifth (21 percent) have noticed their dashboard lights dimming when turning over the engine, and 13 percent have experienced the ignominy of their car backfiring.

“If your battery takes more attempts than usual to start the car, appears sluggish or the warning lights on your dashboard are illuminated, it could be a sign of imminent failure,” explains Laura Walsh from Halfords. “Using your car’s heater, lights and devices like sat-navs places greater demand on your battery. This, combined with leaving your car standing idle in the damp could result in a less than positive start to 2020, so it’s worth giving your car a quick health check.”

Many cars have a voltage gauge on the dashboard to indicate battery health. Alternatively, you can check your battery using an electrical tester. Examples are available online from less than £5.

UK drivers too scared to get their car serviced

Drivers too scared to get their car serviced

Millions of motorists are avoiding car maintenance over fears of unexpected problems.

Around half of UK drivers (47 percent) worry about having to pay for unexpected car repairs. This is according to a survey of 2,000 motorists.

A quarter (24 percent) of those who worry about unexpected problems say this uncertainty is putting them off getting their car serviced.

The research found that drivers are paying hundreds of pounds to pass an MOT, with 5 percent paying £1,000 or more to get their vehicle through the test.

MOT stations can charge up to £54.85 for a car, but some outlets will encourage motorists by charging a reduced fee for the test.

According to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), nearly 50 percent of all faults found on MOTs could be avoided by carrying out regular maintenance or by checking some basic items before the test.

Further MOT analysis reveals that around 40 percent of cars fail their MOT at the first attempt, costing motorists time and money.

There are concerns that there could be millions of cars on the road that are in a less-than-perfect condition.

‘A nerve-wracking experience’

Unexpected repair bills

Lauren French, product manager at RAC MOT Assist, the company behind the research, said: “Clearly, taking a car in for a service or MOT can be a nerve-wracking experience with many drivers concerned about what might be uncovered, and the unpleasant financial consequences that can result.

“But it’s even more alarming that this experience is enough to put some people off getting their car serviced in the future. Just how many people are driving vehicles on the UK’s roads that they know have problems?

“The best advice to any driver is to keep on top of servicing and maintenance work – the quicker problems are identified, often the cheaper they are to remedy. But at the same time we know that running a car can feel burdensome, and that some drivers don’t feel confident finding an affordable but reliable garage, or trusting one with looking after their car.

“This is why we’ve built a national network of RAC approved independent garages that drivers can depend on for good service and fair prices, with every one of them backed by the RAC’s Customer Charter and Code of Conduct.“