These are the startling findings of a leading UK vehicle leasing company which has discovered that millions of drivers have no idea about basic car maintenance.
Suggesting that many car breakdowns are directly caused by owners’ ignorance of everyday checks, the Flexed company says that this is one subject which should be taught at schools, sixth forms and colleges, or even as part of driver training.
“Millions of us drive every day, but it turns out that huge numbers know very little about the machine they’re operating,” says Flexed spokesperson Mark Hall.
To find out how much we take the automobile for granted, Flexed asked over 3000 drivers if they knew how to carry out basic maintenance tasks:
- 49% didn’t know how to change a tyre
- 31% didn’t know how to check their tyre pressures
- 63% were unable to check the oil level
- 29% were unable to fill the windscreen washer bottle
- 58% didn’t know where to top up the oil
- 1% didn’t know how to fill up with petrol
“These figures are astonishing,” says Mark Hall, “but then, I’ve got a friend who openly admits that he doesn’t know which hole to put the petrol in his car. It’s a wonder he even passed his test.”
And that’s why Flexed says car maintenance should be part of the school or college curriculum, so that people have a basic working knowledge of UK society’s most dominant device.
“If school pupils – and that’s both boys and girls – are shown how to do even the most basic of task, that’s a skill that they’ve got for life,” says Hall.
In fact, Flexed says, it’s something that should be added to the driving test to prove that new drivers know their way around a car or motorcycle. That will go a long way to prevent breakdowns on public roads which sometimes cause long and costly delays, the car leasing company thinks.
“The fact that the major breakdown organisations now have specialist patrols to help people who have run out of petrol just goes to prove how little people know about their own cars,” says Flex’d Mark Hall. “Even older vehicles have bells and whistles to tell you your fuel is low, so how come people still manage to run dry?”
If drivers took the time to teach themselves ten simple skills, they’d find motoring a far more reliable task:
- Check your oil and coolant levels monthly
- Check your tyre pressures monthly – keep a note of the correct pressures in the front page of your car’s manual
- Check your tyre tread depth, plus the general condition of your tyres
- Buy a spare set of bulbs – you never know when you need one, and it’s cheaper than buying one at a time
- Acquaint yourself as to what the warning lights on your dashboard mean – some are more serious than others
- Service your car annually – it’ll improve your car’s reliability and your petrol mileage
- Keep your car clean!
- Find out how to check battery levels
- Test your brakes regularly
- Keep a basic tool kit in the boot, along with emergency blankets or a coat. You never know when you might need them
With roads getting busier by the year, broken down cars and vans are a never-ending source of disruption that can easily be avoided.
“Look after your car,” says Flexed Mark Hall. “And your car will look after you.”