An estimated six million UK motorists are unable to carry out “basic” vehicle maintenance, new research has found. The study by breakdown organisation Green Flag revealed one in six drivers (15 percent) are not confident performing simple maintenance tasks such as checking tyre tread depth.

According to the company’s survey of 2,000 UK motorists, just half of drivers (50 percent) feel confident checking tyre tread depth, while 53 percent said they would be happy refilling the engine oil. But just one in eight drivers (13 percent) said they would be able to tell whether there was a problem with the anti-lock brakes – an issue usually indicated by a simple warning light.

The breakdown company estimates 9.4 million drivers have experienced a breakdown in the past five years, with more than half (56 percent) calling out a recovery firm to fix the issue. Just 14 percent were able to fix the problem themselves, with 17 percent relying on someone they were with and 12 percent calling a friend or family member for help.

Car maintenance

The study also revealed one in three drivers (33 percent) do not feel confident checking their car’s battery, yet 35 percent of all Green Flag callouts involve issues with the car’s battery. Similarly, one in six Green Flag callouts (17 percent) are for tyre- or wheel-related issues, when just 37 percent of drivers know how to change a wheel.

Fortunately, the study found 76 percent of drivers have some form of breakdown cover in place, but 24 percent are still going without. That said, young drivers aged 18-34 are less likely to have cover, with just 59 percent saying they have breakdown cover in place.

Car tyre with very little tread remaining

Mark Newberry, the commercial director at Green Flag, said knowledge of basic maintenance skills could help drivers avoid breakdowns and reduce the likelihood of problems with the vehicle.

“Breakdowns are common, but they are often caused by issues that are easily prevented,” he pointed out. “Knowing the basics such as regularly checking tyres, ensuring fluid levels are topped up, and checking the health of the car battery, can help prevent problems on the road.

“Our research shows many drivers lack confidence in maintaining their vehicles, especially young people, so we’re urging drivers to ensure they have the right cover when hitting the road. Older drivers were not only more confident in how to fix their cars and carry out maintenance, but they were more likely to have breakdown cover in place, showing that being prepared is just as important as knowing what to do when something goes wrong.”