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Catch up with the latest press releases from LV=

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Car Maintenance

Press release: 01/07/2009

Being able to change a tyre, top up the oil or charge a car battery are all dying arts for motorists in modern Britain.

According to new findings from Britannia Rescue, seven in ten drivers can’t perform the basic tasks needed to maintain their vehicles [1] which is leading to an increase in car troubles.

Internal data from Britannia Rescue shows that over 60% [2] of call-outs in the last twelve months were caused either by driver error (such as putting the wrong type of fuel in) or for problems that could have been avoided by basic car maintenance.

Four in ten drivers (42%) say they are unable to change a tyre, one in six (17%) are unsure how to check their tyre tread and one in twenty (5%) would struggle to open their car bonnet in an emergency.

This lack of knowledge has led to one in five drivers calling out a breakdown service due to a flat tyre or needing professional help with a flat battery, and one in twenty because they had locked their keys inside the car.

Drivers are blaming their lack of education (37%), a lack of time to learn (11%) and intimidating new technology (8%) for their maintenance issues. The survey suggests that women are nearly twice as likely as their male counterparts to have problems doing car maintenance.

But the younger generation look to be leading a resurgence in car skills, with 18 to 25 year olds better equipped to deal with a vehicle emergency than the 30, 40 or 50-somethings. This is partly thanks to recent changes to the UK driving test, designed to ensure that new drivers do have a basic level of maintenance skills.

Britannia Rescue has revealed some of the most unusual rescue calls to their service recently, including:

  • A driver who had been a victim of a theft of his belongings while at a nudist camp – including his keys and his clothes. A Britannia Rescue engineer was able to arrive with replacement keys….and clothes!

  • A customer who wanted the rescue driver to siphon from her fuel tank the £1 worth of diesel that she had mistakenly put into her car instead of unleaded petrol.

  • A customer claiming that her car keys weren’t working and that she couldn’t unlock her car which was parked outside her home. As the Britannia Rescue operator was drilling out the car locks, a neighbour came out of his house and asked why they were working on his car. It transpired that the customer had forgotten she had parked four cars away down the street, and had told Britannia Rescue to work on the wrong car. This was despite the engineer asking the customer if she was sure that the vehicle was definitely hers.

Britannia Rescue today is warning drivers to revisit basic car maintenance skills, and to ensure they have breakdown cover in place in case of an emergency.

Simon Stevens, general manager of Britannia Rescue said: “We know that most people are drivers, not mechanics, so it’s unlikely they will know how to fix everything that goes wrong with their cars – which is why it is so important to have a rescue service on hand. However, some tasks such as checking the tyre tread and pressure regularly, and checking the oil level, are vital for ensuring a car is safe to drive. They could also save your life in an emergency. These basics are now part of today’s driving test and we’d urge all drivers, however long they’ve been driving, to brush up on their car maintenance to improve reliability and also road safety for everyone.”

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[1] According to the Opinium research, 70 per cent of drivers (or 50 per cent of Brits) were unable to perform one or more of the following tasks: check or change the hydraulic brake fluid levels, change a car tyre, check or change the engine coolant, check the battery fluid in each cell of your battery, charge a car battery, jumpstart a car, check the tyre tread, check the pressure of your tyres, check or change the windscreen wiper liquid, check for cracks or wear on your windscreen wiper blades, or open the bonnet.

[2] Internal data

Britannia Rescue is the UK’s fourth largest road rescue organisation and is part of the LV= group of companies. Britannia Rescue‘s network has over 3,000 breakdown professionals nationwide and average response time is around 40 minutes. The company has been awarded a Which? Best Buy and offers breakdown assistance throughout the UK and Europe.

LV= employs more than 3,800 people, serves more than 3.5 million customers and members, and manages around £7bn on their behalf. We are also the UK’s largest friendly society (Association of Friendly Societies Yearbook 2006/2007, total net assets) and a leading mutual financial services provider.

About the research
All research unless otherwise stated was carried about by Opinium Research. The research was undertaken through an online poll of 2,078 British Drivers between Friday 29 May and Monday 1 June 2009. Results have been weighted to be nationally representative.