A quarter of UK drivers are so scared of big bills they would skip services.

One in four UK drivers says a fear of unexpected bills puts them off getting their car serviced, according to new research.

A study published today by the RAC found that 24 percent of the 2,100 motorists it questioned said the “uncertainty” put them off maintaining their vehicles. Assuming the survey’s sample is representative of the population as a whole, that could mean as many as 3.8 million drivers are considering skipping services for fear of incurring a big bill.

These concerns are most likely to ring true with Londoners - 56 percent of whom said they worried about the price of unexpected repairs - while drivers in the West Midlands (55 percent) and Northern Ireland (53 percent) were almost as likely to be concerned. The drivers least likely to worry about such issues, meanwhile, were those in the east of England, where just 41 percent admitted to fearing expensive remedial work.

The research also found that drivers’ fears seem to be reinforced by their experiences, as many are regularly paying out hundreds of pounds to get their cars through their MOTs. Although the cost of the test is capped at £55, more than half of drivers (52 percent) have paid £300 or more to get their car through the MOT, while one in 20 drivers (five percent) – the equivalent of 1.7 million people – have had to pay a massive £1,000 or more to pass the test.

Mechanic inspecting car in service garage

RAC MOT Assist product manager Lauren French said: “Clearly, taking a car in for a service or MOT can be a nerve-wracking experience with many drivers concerned about what might be uncovered, and the unpleasant financial consequences that can result. But it’s even more alarming that this experience is enough to put some people off getting their car serviced in the future. Just how many people are driving vehicles on the UK’s roads that they know have problems?

“The best advice to any driver is to keep on top of servicing and maintenance work – the quicker problems are identified, often the cheaper they are to remedy. But at the same time we know that running a car can feel burdensome, and that some drivers don’t feel confident finding an affordable but reliable garage, or trusting one with looking after their car. This is why we’ve built a national network of RAC approved independent garages that drivers can depend on for good service and fair prices, with every one of them backed by the RAC’s Customer Charter and Code of Conduct.”

Mechanic examining suspension of vehicle