According to the RAC, it attends to over 2.5 million roadside assistance call-outs every year. That equates to a staggering 7,000 breakdowns throughout the country every single day. Although the figures may sound alarming to the average driver, research has shown that the marked increase in the number of call-outs is the result of several factors over the years.
Less car savvy
Firstly, there’s been a significant decline in the number of motorists undertaking basic car maintenance in comparison to our parents’ generation when more motorists were less fearful of changing their own tyres. Now, with so many motorists taking out car insurance policies which include road assistance, drivers have become more dependent. That lack of car maintenance know-how might wisely be replaced by a bought in warranty, you can even buy model/brand specific warranties for your particular car e.g. here are some ford car warranty policies.
Secondly, road-side patrols believe that technological advancement in cars, from car alarms to satellite navigation systems, have had an enormous impact on vehicle breakdowns, causing drivers to be confused when there’s a glitch in the software or if something needs reprogramming.
These new advances in technology are making motorists nervous to tackle the minor problems and have had a strong knock-on effect on the nature of the call-outs that patrols are now responding to.
The combination of the decline in basic car maintenance skills and the increase in motorists with breakdown cover who are less willing to solve their own problems, has led to an increase in the number of avoidable call-outs. For example, every year there are an increasing number of call-outs requiring the fixing of CD players and windscreen wiper cleanser top ups. Figures show up to 65,000 call-outs a year end up being marked as ‘driver error’, where there’s little to no fault found.
Whilst there’s no single factor that’s resulted in the decline of basic car care knowledge amongst motorists, it’s believed that a combination of an increasingly time-poor society and general negative attitudes towards manual skills have all played their part in creating and shaping a generation of drivers in the U.K. who are significantly less car-savvy than their predecessors.
Common breakdown causes
Research shows that the prime suspect for the highest number of breakdowns in the U.K. is caused by a faulty battery. Whether it’s a loose clamp or voltage loss, it’s always worth checking this and ensuring that you keep your car battery well-maintained – particularly if your car is left in the garage for most of the time. Always ensure your battery is well-charged before you plan to use your car. When you take it for a service, check the terminals and keep it protected from general grime, grease, dirt and petroleum.
The next most common cause of roadside breakdowns is the flat or punctured tyre. From time to time, tyres may become flat due to pressure issues, or if the tyre is damaged. While some cars, will notify you of any pressure or air issues in the tyres via a computer on your dashboard, many others will require that you routinely check and pump air into the tyres. Is that really too much to expect from the average car owner?