press release

Car Maintenance

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 rel="noopener noreferrer" 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 rel="noopener noreferrer" safety for everyone.”

For more rel="noopener noreferrer" information, log on to


Notes to editors: 

[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

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.

About LV=

LV= employs over 6,000 people and serves over 5.8 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 are currently the UK's number one brand for Insurance and Investments, according to the 2015 YouGov Brand Index Buzz Rankings.

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 trade unions.

Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. LVFS is a member of the ABI, the AFM and ILAG. Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF.
Kaidee Horton
Head of Corporate Communications, General Insurance
07738 274568