Cost-of-living pressures have forced almost a quarter of drivers (23%) to either put off getting their vehicles serviced or do it themselves with or without the help of a friend or family member, a new survey of 2,000 UK drivers by the RAC has found.
While 10% have postponed their next car service by up to a year to save money, one-in-20 (5%) have gone further and delayed getting their vehicles checked for more than a year, and are only relying on the annual MOT to ensure their car is roadworthy. An additional one-in-10 (10%) meanwhile have decided to either start servicing their cars themselves, or called on the assistance of someone they know to do it.
Nine per cent of drivers say have opted for cheaper servicing – for instance by swapping a full or major service for a minor one – while a similar proportion (8%) have switched from using their normal garage to a cheaper one in a bid to save cash.
High inflation inevitably means the price to service vehicles goes up, a point backed up by research from the Motor Ombudsman which shows that rising costs are the biggest operational challenges faced by independent garages and franchised dealers in 2023. But a poorly maintained car poses all sorts of risks for drivers – from a breakdown at an inopportune moment to much bigger garage repair bills when car parts start failing.
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.
RAC spreading cost of routine servicing …
“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 Plan allows 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.”