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Brits can't tell a jack from a jump lead

Press release: 28/09/2012

  • Just 7% of drivers can identify common car tools such as a car jack or tyre pump when tested

  • Two thirds (62%) of motorists do not own basic car maintenance tools such as a tyre pump or car battery charger

  • Seven in 10 (68%) drivers are unable to perform basic car maintenance such as checking the oil level

  • 14% of drivers have experienced a car breakdown that could have been avoided if they had basic car maintenance skills

According to research by Britannia Rescue 93% of motorists cannot name common car tools such as a car jack, jumper cables, car fuses, tyre pump, wrench or car battery [1] When shown photographs of different car tools, 74% could not correctly identify a wrench, one in three (31%) could not name a car jack and a similar number (35%) were unable to recognise a car battery charger. Many motorists thought a car jack was a jigsaw tool, a battery charger was a power washer and a car fuse was a USB stick.

It would also seem that drivers no longer own the basic tools to start their car if it were to breakdown. Nearly two thirds (62%) of drivers don't own a car battery charger or tyre pump, with the majority of drivers now preferring to call in the experts rather than attempt to change a tyre or charge a car battery themselves.

In fact, despite both new and old cars still requiring regular car maintenance a large number of drivers cannot perform basic tasks. Seven in 10 (68%) drivers say they struggle with simple tasks such as checking the oil, four in 10 (43%) drivers are unable to change a tyre, 18% don't know how to check their tyre's tread and one in 10 (9%) are unable to open their car bonnet in an emergency situation.

The problem is so widespread that 14% of drivers have experienced a car breakdown that could have been prevented had they known how to carry out basic car maintenance or had a better understanding of their car. According to the research this has led to five million [2] unnecessary breakdowns with common problems including engines overheating and flat tyres.

The decline in car know-how is generational with many modern drivers never learning how to maintain their cars in the first place. One in three (31%) drivers blame their lack of car maintenance skills on the fact were never shown what to do, in fact just 22% of male drivers under 24 are now able to maintain their cars compared with 38% of men aged 45-54.

Hand-in-hand with fading car maintenance knowledge goes car care. According to the research, as many as 60% of drivers do not carry basic items such as water, a spare tyre (23%) or a car jack (29%) in their car. This is despite the fact that a flat tyre is the second most common cause for a call out, accounting for 10% of all breakdowns.

In the past 12 months more than one in three (35%) motorists have driven their car when it has had something wrong with it and ignored faults such as fuel or brake warning lights and bald tyres. Britannia Rescue is today warning motorists that they risk damaging their cars by failing to conduct tyre, oil and water checks on a regular basis as well as ignoring tell tale signs that something is wrong with their car.

Peter Horton, Britannia Rescue Managing Director, said: "Regular car maintenance is crucial, whether your car is old or new. Looking after your car will determine the length of time that it remains in good condition and will stop you having to pay expensive repair costs. Checking your car's oil level is one of the most important things you can do to extend the life of your car's engine - so don't wait for a warning light or indicator to come on."


The consumer research was conducted by ICM research. ICM questioned 2,028 adults of these 1448 drive at least once a month or more. The research took place between 3 - 5 August 2012. Adults were shown a number of car tool images. These images are available on request.

Britannia Rescue is part of the LV= group of companies. Britannia Rescue's network has over 3,000 breakdown professionals nationwide and average response time is 41 minutes.

About LV=

LV= employs 5,500 people and serves over five million customers with a range of financial products. We are the UK's largest friendly society and a leading financial mutual.

When we started in 1843 our goal was to give financial security to more than just a privileged few and for many decades we were most commonly associated with providing a method of saving to people of modest means. Today we follow a similar purpose, helping people to protect and provide for the things they love, although on a much larger scale and through a wide range of financial services including insurance, investment and retirement products.

We offer our services direct to consumers, as well as through IFAs and brokers, and through strategic partnerships with organisations such as ASDA, Nationwide Building Society and a range of trades unions.

LVFS is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority, register number 110035. LVFS is a member of the ABI, the AFM and ILAG. Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF.

  1. 31% of drivers could not identify a car jack, 43% could not identify car fuses, 23% could not identify a tow rope, 20% were unable to identify jumper cables, 22% could not identify a tyre pump, 35% couldn’t identify a car battery charger and 74% were unable to identify a car wrench. Images are available on request.

  2. According to research 14% of drivers say they have called a breakdown recovery service for a reason that could have been avoided had they known basic car maintenance or had a better understanding of car maintenance. This equates to five million car breakdowns. 14% x 36.7 million drivers = five million car breakdowns.