I’ve seen the light – and ignored it

A new survey from online car repair marketplace ClickMechanic has revealed huge gaps in knowledge when it comes to Brits and their car’s communication and warning systems.

The most commonly misinterpreted car problems relate to dashboard warning lights, with 59% admitting to having had a light appear on their dashboard in the last 12 months and not knowing what it’s indicating.

The majority of motorists unable to identify the following alerts: low tyre pressure; DPF (Diesel Particulate filter); brake pad; engine warning; and automatic gearbox fault.

Rather than reaching for the manufacturer’s manual however, almost a third (31%) of drivers say that they have or would first resort to Google to find out what a dashboard light means, while a worrying fifth (19%) confessed to continuing to drive for at least two weeks after a warning light came on in their vehicle before seeking help.

Meanwhile, one in five (23%) drivers said that they’d been unable to find their car’s water tank when they first took possession of the vehicle, while a further 15% said that they’d been unable to locate the windscreen wash refill point. An incredible 45% confessed that they’d been unable to find the lever to open their car’s bonnet.

ClickMechanic’s founder Andrew Jervis said, ‘Cars do so much more today than they did even five years ago, so it’s understandable that drivers struggle to keep up with the technology on offer, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to pay attention to warning lights.

‘While some alerts can just be a gentle reminder, ignoring others can lead to serious problems. If you don’t replace your brake pads, for example, your stopping distance is greatly compromised, which makes you a danger to yourself, pedestrians and other drivers. Fiscally it also makes little sense and can lead to the additional need to replace the rotors and calliper piston too, if left too long, which is a far more expensive process.

‘Driver manuals can be confusing, especially if you’re not technically-minded, so if in doubt it’s always best to ask advice.’