Many motorists are unable to carry out simple vehicle safety checks, including checks that are required to pass a driving test, research for the AA Garage Guide has found.
“Many drivers don’t know how to open the bonnet, let alone what’s under it,” Garage Guide Director Olli Astley remarked. “Nowadays, people don’t want to get their hands dirty and aren’t confident carrying out basic safety checks.
“It is worthwhile 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.”
The research suggests that 1.3 million drivers are unsure how to even open the bonnet. Around one-fifth are unsure how to check their tyre thread depth and a quarter don’t know how to top up their antifreeze.
Many licensed drivers can’t answer the required ‘show me, tell me’ questions in the current DVSA driving test. Over half of the 18,000 AA members surveyed said they didn’t know how to check if the power steering is working for example, and over a third wouldn’t know how to check their brake fluid is at a safe level – even though learner drivers are expected to know how to do both.
Female drivers appear less engaged with car maintenance than men, with one in ten admitting they’re unsure how to top up their windscreen washer fluid compared to just 2% of men. Similarly, more than one-third of women were unsure how to top up the engine oil, compared to 7% of men.
Many people tend to visit a garage for help with more hands-on tasks, such as changing a wheel. Over a third of drivers said they don’t feel confident doing this and, again, there was a significant gender imbalance – three-quarters of women were unsure how to change a wheel, compared to just 17% of men.
“Of course,” Olli Astley added, “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.’