Insurer sees ‘worrying’ increase in lack of car maintenance as living costs rise

People may believe they are saving money, but repairs could end up being more costly and compromise the vehicle’s safety, experts are warning.

A “worrying” increase in car maintenance being neglected as living costs rise, with potentially dangerous consequences, is being seen by an insurer.

LV= General Insurance (LV= GI) said its findings suggest some motorists are avoiding replacing and servicing early signs of wear and tear on their vehicle.

According to LV=’s breakdown provider, Britannia Rescue, the number of call-outs where vehicles did not have an MOT was 78% higher in January 2023 compared with March 2022.

LV=’s network of repair garages, which deal with cars belonging to its customers which have been involved in an accident, has seen a sharp rise in a lack of maintenance.

It said common issues which are not being promptly fixed include worn tyres, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) not being calibrated correctly or checked, warning lights on dashboards, chipped or cracked windscreens and wear to brake pads.

ADAS features, including pedestrian detection, blind spot detection and lane departure warnings, play a significant role in the safety of vehicles.

However, motorists are ignoring warnings of faults which could lead to an increase in accidents and risk danger to others on the roads, LV= warned.

Michael Golding, network manager at LV= GI said: “The data we’re seeing is worrying, as this neglect could easily impact the safety of a vehicle and could put yourself, passengers and others in real danger.

“In light of the cost of living, spending additional money on a car can be frustrating, but we hope this demonstrates the important safety aspect and why it’s crucial warning signs aren’t ignored.

“With more cars being rescued without a MOT, this can also have serious consequences and a fine of up to £1,000.”

Tom Hadfield, commercial director at Vella Group Repair Centres, said: “When inspecting vehicles, we often see instances where customers haven’t maintained their car.

“Typical examples might include tyre wear beyond the legal limit, and in some extreme cases we’ve seen exposed cord beneath the tread.

“It’s common to see chips and cracks in windscreens, which can interfere with automatic radar equipment, and we’ve also seen severely worn or damaged steering components.

“It’s important customers understand that they might think they’re saving money, but in the long term it’s going to cost a lot more to fix and could compromise the vehicle’s safety.”

As part of the Government’s recent MOT consultation, LV= said it has strongly advised that MOTs remain an annual requirement.

Here are LV= GI’s tips to keep vehicles safe and roadworthy:

– Sort a windscreen chip out early. This can cost around £50, compared with replacing the full windscreen if not looked at, which can cost as much £1,500.

– Have your steering checked if you feel the car pulling to one side – this can cause uneven tyre wear and mean that tyres have to be replaced unnecessarily quickly.

– Get cars serviced regularly in accordance with manufacturer specifications in order to catch any maintenance issues early.

– Have your car inspected by a professional if you hear any unusual sounds, such as knocking.

– Headlights and brake lights not working can lead to a fine and three points on your licence, so get these replaced as soon as it happens.

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