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Motorists focused on surface not service

7th May 2013 Print

A massive £1.9 billion pounds will be spent this year by drivers keen to keep their car bonnet gleaming, yet many will neglect what’s underneath the shine.
New research for Kwik Fit, the automotive and repair servicing company, has revealed that many motorists are more concerned with the external appearance of their vehicle than its mechanical well-being.   Four in five drivers (78%) will spend an average of £73 on cleaning their car this year, yet half this number (39%) will not bother taking care of what’s under the bonnet.
The main reasons drivers give for deliberately missing out a scheduled service or maintenance are financial constraints (24%), driving fewer miles (10%) and not believing that cars need to be serviced as often as the manufacturer recommends (8%).
Astonishingly, those drivers who are most likely to spend the most on car cleaning are also the most likely to skip mechanical maintenance.  Of the 2.8 million drivers who will pay for at least five different car cleaning products or services, half (50%) are considering missing their next service – with 29% blaming financial constraints.
Financial considerations are not stopping many drivers from splashing out on their car’s appearance.  Kwik Fit’s research found that the total amount to be spent on car cleaning this year is as follows:

Item - Total amount spent by British motorists

Valet service £603,226,000

Drive through car wash £516,194,900

Car wax / shampoo £395,070,100

Jet wash £209,466,500

Chamois leather £91,062,100

Sponges £89,222,200

Total £1,904,242,000
Kwik Fit’s report sheds light on the fact that the importance of their car’s appearance is most prominent amongst younger motorists.  Of those aged 18-24, incredibly, 20% will visit a drive through carwash at least 10 times this year, while nearly one-in-five (17%) will take their car for a valet and over one-in-six (15%) use a jet wash with the same frequency.
With over a third (39%) of motorists thinking about skipping their next service, Kwik Fit’s research also revealed which region’s motorists are most likely to be leaving their bonnet unopened.  Motorists in the South West are avoiding car maintenance the most, with nearly half (45%) saying they will do so.  Scottish drivers are the most conscious of engine care – only 22% of drivers north of the border are considering skipping:

Position – Region - % Who admit they will skip next service

1. South West 45%
2. North West 44%
3. London 43%
4. East of England 42%
5. East Midlands 41%
6. Wales 40%
7. South East 36%
8. Yorkshire & Humberside 36%
9. North East 36%
10. West Midlands 34%
11. Scotland 22%

Washing a car regularly is an important part of cosmetic maintenance, but Kwik-Fit warns that this shouldn’t replace maintaining the mechanics.  Missing out on servicing could lead to problems under the bonnet not being spotted, and also may be a false economy as regular maintenance can prevent minor issues becoming expensive problems.
Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit, said:  “We don’t want people to neglect their vehicle’s appearance, and keeping a car clean can improve safety – but for some drivers to prioritise surface shine over the mechanical components is somewhat worrying.
“The cost per year for the much needed mechanical services is minimal when compared with fixing any major damage which neglect can lead to, and certainly inexpensive compared to the £2billion spent on making cars look good.  Our study revealed that over one million drivers spend more than £36 a time on a car valet, which is only slight less than the price of our Kwik Oil service.  If drivers have to choose, we would recommend they prioritise what’s under the bonnet first.”
Prices for Kwik Fit’s Kwik Oil service start at £39.95, and interim services are priced from £79. Customers looking for more information or wishing to book an appointment can do so at