Younger drivers more likely to delay important repairs

Over a third of drivers aged 17 to 24 are putting off necessary repairs to their vehicles in an attempt to cut their outgoings as financial strains take their toll.

Research from the 2022 RAC Report on Motoring has found that 37% of younger drivers have deliberately delayed getting any repair work done on their vehicles, double the 14% average across all respondents.

A total of 16% from the young-driver pool said they are delaying having major work completed, which can range from replacing a handbrake or a cracked windscreen, while 28% said they were delaying minor repairs, including small oil leaks or replacing brake discs.  Those who drive cars over 10 years of age (19%) and who live in town or city centre areas (25%) also significantly more likely to put work off.

Yet the report found that those who skip necessary repair work are less likely to reduce how often they have a service carried out on their vehicle, or switch to a cheaper insurer. Just 9% of all drivers responding said they would look to amend their servicing schedule, with 13% shopping for a new insurance company. This is in comparison with the 14% average who are putting off repair work.

The RAC’s research found that a greater proportion of drivers in East Anglia and London are cutting back on motoring costs to save money compared to those in other areas of the UK. At the opposite end of the spectrum, those in Scotland, Yorkshire and the South East of England are less inclined to be trying to make savings.

Breakdown level reduction unlikely for younger drivers

Drivers are least keen to reduce their level of breakdown cover in the face of rising prices, with just 3% saying they have done this. Again, younger drivers aged 17-24 are more likely to say they have cut costs here than other age groups, with 6% admitting to reducing their breakdown cover levels.

“Without question, putting off vehicle repairs or skipping routine servicing are both false economies, but these figures show in all-too-stark terms just how many drivers, especially younger ones, feel they have to do this to lower their spending in the face of rising prices,” said RAC spokesman Rod Dennis.

“The fact over a third of young drivers are deliberately delaying getting their vehicles fixed to cut costs is actually a harbinger of future unwelcome – and possibly far larger – garage bills. What’s more, not getting work to a car done means the chances of it letting a driver down shoots up, making it potentially less safe.

“And as the average age of cars on our roads is getting older due to fewer people trading up to new cars, it looks as though many of them will also be in a poorer overall state of repair which is bad news for everyone using the roads. Given this, we sincerely hope the government permanently shelves its unpopular idea to change the compulsory MOT from once a year to every two years. After all, the MOT is the backstop when it comes to ensuring all vehicles using the roads are roadworthy.

“Increasing prices are hitting drivers from all directions at the moment. If the high cost of fuel isn’t bad enough, drivers who do the right thing and take their vehicles to a garage will also see larger bills. It is unfortunately the case that an enormous number of car components and consumables are affected by rising material prices, whether that’s oil that goes into making tyres or is simply used as a lubricant, or steel that goes into shock absorbers. The best, and indeed only, advice to drivers is to stay on top of maintenance to avoid the prospect of a nasty bill further down the line.”

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