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6 in 10 British motorists can’t identify brake warning light & many struggle with basic car maintenance, survey shows


A new survey of 1,000 UK motorists has been commissioned by JCT600 for Car Safety Week 2016. The survey looks at car-owners’ car maintenance knowledge and habits, with some worrying findings. Respondents were asked questions such as “do you think you know exactly how to check your car’s oil level?” and “how many times do you check / have someone else check the tyre pressure on your car per year, on average?”

The survey shows that many motorists don’t know how to perform basic car maintenance tasks, and also reveals wide differences in knowledge depending on age and gender.

Some of the most striking findings from the survey are detailed below:

63% of motorists don’t know what the brake warning light symbol means. 4.2% thought it meant “push the foot brake,” 6.5% said “restart the engine” and 17.4% said “top up the oil.” 1.3% believe it simply means “continue your journey as normal.”
1 in 4 motorists (24.7%) aren’t sure how to check their car’s oil level.
Nearly half of motorists (45%) don’t know how to check their tyre tread depth. 10.8% answered “no – not at all” when asked “Do you think you know exactly how to check the tyre tread on your car?”

Comparing responses based on age revealed that 18-24 year-olds are the least likely age group to know their recommended tyre pressure (30%). They are also the least likely group to know exactly how to check their car’s oil (60%). By contrast, those aged 55+ are the most likely to know their recommended tyre pressure (50.15%) and most likely to know how to check their oil (83.28%).

Comparing based on gender showed that men get their cars serviced more often than women on average (every 1.36 years vs every 1.47 years) but check their tyre pressure less often (every 5.14 years vs every 4.56 years). Men are nearly twice as likely to know their recommended tyre pressure compared with women (58.97% vs 31.84%). Men are also more likely to know how to check their tyre tread (67.42% vs 43.3%) and more likely to know how to check their car’s oil level (87.63% vs 63.69%).

Commenting on the findings, Andy Bateman, Head of Operations at JCT600, said:

“Discovering that more than 6 in 10 motorists don’t know what their brake warning light means, and that a quarter don’t know how to check their oil level, was a surprise, to say the least. The fact that nearly half don’t know how to check their tyre tread depth was perhaps a little less of a shock, but with access to better information, these are all simple tasks for anyone who owns a car.

As we look ahead to the coming year, there’s no better time than now for car-owners to get clued up on car maintenance and safety. We created a video for Tyre Safety Week last year showing motorists how to conduct the ‘20p test’, and we also offer free vehicle health checks for all of our customers.

Now, with Car Safety Week underway, I’d encourage drivers to be prepared for winter driving conditions, and to get to know their cars as well as they can, so they can look after them properly.”

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Brian Everall

Editor at large, SalfordOnline.com