A return to DIY car maintenance?

A survey of 400 used car buyers by vehicle remarketing company, British Car Auctions (BCA) illustrates how cash-strapped motorists have been coping as the UK slowly climbs out of recession. The research revealed that motorists have been rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty with basic car maintenance jobs, rather than going to a garage or mechanic.

“Earlier generations of motorists would have had no qualms about getting their head under the bonnet and dealing with basic car maintenance themselves” explained Tim Naylor, Editor of the BCA Used Car Market Report. “But, as motoring innovation has advanced through the Nineties and Noughties, motorists have increasingly relied on engine management systems to tell them when a service or repair is required and then let the experts take care of it. However, our new research suggests that for some tasks, drivers have reverted back to a ‘do it yourself’ attitude.”

96 per cent of drivers surveyed by BCA said that they would top up their oil themselves. And 93 per cent said they would change their windscreen wiper blades; the same percentage feel confident topping up their anti-freeze. 83 per cent wouldn’t be deterred from dealing with a flat battery. However, it seems that drivers are less keen to change a tyre, with only just over half (57 per cent) stating that they would do this themselves.

Whilst motorists may be doing it themselves for basic car maintenance tasks, when it comes to a breakdown, there was resounding support for the professionals. 73 per cent of respondents to the BCA survey said that they would call a breakdown service first if their car broke down. Perhaps unsurprisingly, owners of older cars are the most likely to contact their breakdown service – 78 per cent of owners of 7 to 9 year old cars and 76 per cent of owners of a car aged 10 years or older. But one in five motorists would ask for help from a family member or someone they know who has knowledge of the workings of a car.

Tim Naylor added “It is good to see that car owners are keeping on top of basic maintenance, as neglecting these important tasks can, potentially, have a damaging effect on a vehicle’s value when they come to sell. However, we would always recommend that motorists seek the advice of their garage or a professional mechanic for anything more than the most basic maintenance tasks as safety should never be compromised.”

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