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Rising cost of living forces UK drivers to delay vehicle servicing, survey reveals

A recent survey conducted by the RAC has revealed that the escalating cost of living has led to nearly a quarter of UK drivers, or 23%, postponing vehicle servicing or attempting to do it themselves, with or without the assistance of family or friends.

The survey of 2,000 drivers found that 10% have delayed their next car service by up to a year, while an alarmingly substantial 5% have exceeded a year without getting their vehicles checked, relying solely on the annual MOT test to ensure roadworthiness. Additionally, 10% have chosen to service their cars independently or sought assistance from acquaintances.

Financial constraints have also prompted drivers to explore cheaper alternatives, with 9% opting for minor services instead of full or major ones. Similarly, 8% have switched to less expensive garages in order to save money.

According to the Motor Ombudsman, rising costs are proving to be the primary operational challenge faced by independent garages and franchised dealers in 2023, corroborating the survey findings. While increasing inflation invariably leads to higher service prices, the implications of neglecting vehicle maintenance can put drivers at risk, ranging from inconvenient breakdowns to substantial repair bills resulting from failed car parts.

Experts emphasise the importance of regular servicing to maintain vehicle reliability, performance, and safety. Neglecting regular maintenance can lead to potentially hazardous situations on the road as well as increased costs in the long run.

The findings of the survey shed light on the impact of the current economic climate on vehicle owners and highlight the need for affordable options and greater support for motorists facing financial burdens. With cost-of-living pressures placing strain on individuals and families alike, it is imperative that access to reliable and cost-effective vehicle servicing remains a priority.

RAC Breakdown spokesman Rod Dennis said: “Not keeping on top of servicing a vehicle is almost always a false economy, as the probability of suffering a breakdown emergency and having to fork out even more for expensive repairs down the line go up massively.

“So, while drivers might feel the best thing to do is to put off servicing or opt for a cheaper service even if their car is due a full one, we advise strongly against it as repair costs are likely to snowball when things start to go wrong.

“We understand the cost-of-living pressures drivers are under which is why we’ve launched a range of services to help manage the costs of running a car. The RAC MOT and Service Planallows drivers to spread the cost of routine servicing (one full and one interim service) and MOTs over two years, locking in a price when they take out the policy and therefore avoiding any prices increases over this time. And with RAC Mobile Mechanics now in 20 of the UK’s biggest towns and cities, it’s never been easier for drivers to get their cars serviced at home or at their place of work, avoiding the time and hassle of having get to and from a garage.

“Our Mobile Mechanics are also handling an increasing number of repair jobs, often after members have been rescued from the side of the road by an RAC patrol and then need to get their cars fixed. As these jobs are referred to the RAC’s Mobile Mechanics team straightaway, members don’t have to try to get their cars booked into a garage and get back on the road in the shortest time possible.”


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