Drivers increasingly disengaged from their cars

Many British drivers cannot carry out basic vehicle safety checks despite the fact that a number of these are required to pass the current driving test.

In fact, new research from AA Garage Guide, the AA’s MOT, repairs and car servicing garage finder, reveals that 1.3 million drivers aren’t even sure how to open the car bonnet. More than a fifth (22%) of motorists are unsure how to check their tyre thread depth and a quarter (26%) don’t know how to top up their cooling system with antifreeze.

According to the AA Populus poll of over 18,000 AA members, many licensed drivers can’t answer the required ‘show me, tell me’ questions in the current DVSA driving test. Over half of drivers (53%) don’t know how to check the power steering is working and over a third (38%) wouldn’t know how to check their brake fluid is at a safe level – yet learner drivers are expected to know how to do both in their driving test.

Female drivers appear less engaged with car maintenance than men, with 10% of women admitting they’re unsure how to top up their windscreen washer fluid compared to just two per cent of men. Similarly, 35% of women are unsure how to top up the engine oil while just seven per cent of men admit to this.

Many people tend to visit a garage for help with more hands-on tasks. One such task is changing a wheel, with over a third (35%) of drivers saying they don’t feel confident doing this. Again, there is a significant gender disparity; 75% of women are unsure how to change a wheel compared to just 17% of men.

Olli Astley, director at AA Garage Guide, said, ‘Many drivers don’t know how to open the bonnet, let alone what’s under it. Nowadays people don’t want to get their hands dirty and aren’t confident carrying out basic safety checks – even those that are required in the current driving test. It is worth learning some simple maintenance tasks to make sure you’re not constantly popping in and out of the garage for problems you could fix at home – watching a YouTube video, asking a friend or swotting up next time you’re at the garage is a great way to start.

‘Of course, there are certain tasks that will require professional assistance. Don’t ignore a warning light or an unfamiliar smell or sound coming from the car, and if you’re unsure what the problem is then take it to an expert.’