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Cash-strapped drivers delay repairs and risk safety

19th March 2012 Print

Cash-strapped motorists are delaying essential maintenance and driving illegal cars because they can't afford the repairs, according to new research from Britannia Rescue.

Around a quarter (23%) of motorists admit that their cars have a defect which renders it illegal and one in seven (14%) say their vehicle is in urgent need of repair. The most common defect is bald tyres but other common problems include faulty brakes, broken windscreen wipers, broken or missing wing mirrors and defective brake lights.

One in five (18%) motorists have even driven cars without valid a MOT certificate, although it is illegal to do so. Two thirds of these say they did so unknowingly because they had forgotten to check the renewal date on the certificate but a third say they were aware at the time and drove the car anyway. If you are caught driving a car without a valid MOT, you can be given three penalty points be fined up to £1,000 and invalidate the car's insurance.

Police data shows that the number of drivers caught driving cars that were not roadworthy increased in 2011 by 4% across the UK. The most common recorded offence is driving with defective tyres, followed by driving a vehicle that is in a ‘dangerous' condition. Other common offences include driving a car that has defective brakes or defective steering.

The research shows that there are seven million cars currently on the road that are illegal to drive as a result of certain defects. One in five (21%) drivers do not realise they are breaking the law by driving a vehicle that has a defective brake light and a similar number (19%) are unaware that it's an offence to drive with faulty brakes. Likewise 15% of drivers believe it is not illegal to drive a car that has bald tyres. These defects not only render the car illegal to drive but also put could also endanger those travelling in the car.

On average, drivers now delay fixing these common faults for over four months, with one in seven (13%) taking six months. The reason for the delay is primarily down to cost. Two fifths (40%)of drivers say it's just too expensive to repair their car and a quarter (24%) of drivers don't see the repairs as urgent their car still ‘gets from A to B'. This problem is worst among younger drivers, with a quarter of those aged 18-34 driving a car in need of repair compared to just 5% of those over 55.

Driving a car in need of repair is not only illegal but it also greatly increases the risk of breaking down or having an accident. Britannia Rescue is calling on motorists delaying repairs to their cars to prioritize their safety and ensure that essential repairs are carried out as quickly as possible.

Peter Horton, Britannia Rescue Managing Director, said: "At a time when money is tight and fuel prices are on the increase, motorists are looking to save cash where they can. Sacrificing car maintenance is a false economy, which not only increases the risk of breaking down but also puts those traveling in the car in unnecessary danger. In these tough economic times we all need to tighten our belts, but scrimping on road safety isn't the place to start."

For more information on Britannia Rescue, visit