British Drivers Stumped By Car Maintenance

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    A recent survey by a road rescue organisation revealed that British drivers' lack of knowledge of basic car maintenance could be costing them money. Forty per cent of car owners in the UK apparently do not carry out regular maintenance procedures on their vehicles, which could help to protect them against breakdowns and engine damage.

    Twelve per cent of drivers don't even get out of the starting gates, admitting they don't know how to open their car bonnet. Over a third of drivers questioned didn't know where the brake fluid reservoir was, a quarter were stumped by the coolant refill and one in 10 couldn't find the oil filler cap. Even simple tasks were beyond 7% of those surveyed, as they failed to locate the dipstick for the oil or the car battery.

    In a different study, photographs of car engine components were shown to 2,000 motorists, of whom 16% couldn't correctly identify even a single part. The majority of those questioned failed to recognise pictures of the brake fluid and engine coolant reservoirs or the oil dipstick. However, over half did at least manage to identify the windscreen washer fluid reservoir, the bonnet catch and the oil filler cap.

    Regular car maintenance is essential for the health of your engine. Keeping your oil reservoir topped up is one of the main factors in extending engine life. While newer vehicles supply electronic warnings about low oil levels, owners of older cars should check oil levels at least once per month. Running a car low on oil or coolant could lead to expensive repairs, thanks to the resulting engine damage, while low brake fluid and windscreen washer fluid could actually be dangerous on the road.

    Since 2003, the practical section of the driving test in Britain has included an element of basic car maintenance called 'Show Me Tell Me,' but drivers who passed this test actually scored lower in the survey than those who took their driving test before the maintenance element was introduced.

    Motoring agencies have suggested that manufacturers are not helping the situation, as different parts are in very different locations over a range of vehicles. Looking at 16 of Britain's biggest selling car models, only the brake fluid reservoir and car battery can be found in common locations. The positions of the oil dipstick, oil filler cap, coolant reservoir and windscreen washer fluid bottle vary significantly.

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