Avoiding necessary vehicle repairs is costing British motorists a combined total of around £10.7 billion, according to new research. The study by insurance company Churchill estimated that in the past five years, more than 19 million drivers have ignored important repairs for more than a month.

Churchill’s survey of more than 2,000 UK adults found 46 percent of those quizzed had essentially ignored problems with their cars. Assuming the respondents were representative of the nation as a whole, that could mean 19.2 million drivers wilfully ignored necessary repairs to their car.

A third of those questioned (32 percent) said they had left bodywork damage unrepaired for more than a month, while an estimated five million admitted failing to repair the damage in over a year.

Mechanic taking notes under a car

And it isn’t just cosmetic issues that are left unchecked. The survey revealed an estimated six million drivers have waited to sort out brake problems, with the average respondent waiting more than two-and-a-half months to fix the issue.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that a snap poll of 100 professional mechanics found two-thirds (67 percent) repair vehicles with issues that should have been fixed earlier on a weekly basis. And 45 percent said that was a daily occurrence.

Woman mechanic working on car

According to Churchill, the most common reason for driving with a damaged car is because drivers believe the issue to be cosmetic – an excuse for 33 percent of respondents. A fifth (20 percent) said they ignored issues because they thought they could “get away with it”, while 19 percent said they simply couldn’t afford to get the issue fixed.

But Churchill says hanging on could be a false economy, because small issues can become big problems if they are left unchecked. For example, the company estimates the cost of fixing a sticking handbrake at £100 if it’s caught early, but if the problem is left alone that could rise to £324.

“We understand the reasons drivers do not immediately get bumps and scrapes to bodywork repaired as they are probably seen as minor issues and can be expensive to repair,” said Nicholas Mantel, the head of motor insurance at Churchill. “However, minor issues can quickly become major if they are not dealt with. Engine noises which could be sorted out with a £10 engine oil replacement could amount to needing a new engine, costing thousands if ignored for too long.

“The research also highlights how drivers are not taking problems with car brakes seriously. Brake failure can lead to road traffic accidents and drivers are putting themselves and the public at high risk. While we sympathise with car owners, we recommend tending to even the small issues as quickly as possible, not only to save money and avoid a bigger bill in the future, but also to avoid road accidents or injury.”

Car mechanic with wrench on car in garage