Millennials Risking Thousands in Car Repairs

By Lewis on 24th May 2019 - View Comments

A new independent study conducted by Select Car Leasing reveals many young motorists are lacking critical car maintenance understanding and legal motoring knowledge, leading to huge potential repair costs.

Coupled with this, recent Office of National Statistics data exposes that a startling 53% of young people in the UK aged 22 to 29 have no savings. This has increased from 41% just 10 years ago, highlighting many younger motorists will simply not be able to afford large car repair bills.

While household bills take priority, a car can quickly become a ‘ticking timebomb’ of major expenses if the correct pre-emptive maintenance isn’t carried out. Unaware, underprepared and without the correct skills or spare money to readily fix these issues, younger drivers are becoming trapped in a downward financial spiral.

As such, avoiding being slapped with unexpected repair costs is of major importance for young motorists in 2019. Let’s take a look at some of the key findings from the survey, and  what this could mean for the rest of us…

Key Research Insights

Brake pad blindness

Only 27% of young motorists know how to check their brake pads. Failing to do so can allow the brakes to thin and become worn, and continued can result in overheating and brake failure, endangering the safety of the driver and other motorists.

Tyre tread ignorance

Almost half of young motorists are unaware of how to check tread depth – opening themselves up to almost £3000 in fines, which the older generation largely manage to avoid.

Tyre pressure pickle

Nearly a third of 18-24 year old motorists don’t know how to check their tyre pressure.

Furthermore, only one in ten of them know that the recommended schedule for checking this is once per month. Checking your tyre pressure is essential, as it can greatly affect the performance and grip of the car on the road. Failure to correctly check this can result in fines and, even worse, nasty accidents.

Relying on rust

With only 3% of UK young adults buying  a brand-new car model in the last three years, the majority are driving cars that are older – and potentially unsafe. The research reveals a worrying correlation for younger drivers, as driving an older or second-hand car greatly increases the chance of faults, breakdowns and needing ongoing repairs.

Maintenance meltdown

The survey also asked how often motorists carry out maintenance on 6 different areas of their car; their response was then compared to the recommended maintenance times offered by Michelin and other automotive authorities.

The results are staggering: less than 1-in-10 18–24-year olds maintain their car according to the correct schedule, the lowest score of all the age ranges. This again shows a crippling lack of motoring knowledge compared to their older counterparts – which may lead to substantial future repair bills.

Furthermore, the majority are unaware of how to carry out the most basic car maintenance checks.

For example, only 49% of motorists between the ages of 18–24 know how to properly maintain their windscreen wipers. Improperly looked after wipers could cause a scratched windscreen and worse, a repair bill of up to £100.

Overall, 18-24 year olds’ lack of maintenance knowledge could end up costing them an eye-watering £7,200.

(Don’t) phone a friend

After an accident an overwhelming proportion of younger drivers are more likely to  call a family member rather than the relevant authorities to properly report the incident.

Official recommendations from consumer watchdog ‘Which?’ advise that if you happen to be in an accident, look around – if anyone has been injured call 999, but if an emergency response isn’t necessary, motorists should call 101 instead.

The study also uncovered a strong gender split on the most common first response after a minor accident. More than a third of women would call their partners first, as opposed to just 16% of males. Men showed a more practical, but still incorrect approach, with 32% stating they would call their insurance company.

This has many risks, including disrupting traffic, complicating insurance claims and endangering their own safety.

Blasé about breakdown cover

A staggering 4 in 10 cash strapped youngsters either don’t have breakdown cover or are unaware if they do – compared to 9 in 10 of 45+ year old respondents who said they were covered.

This raises important questions about why many of the UK’s newest motorists are failing to properly safeguard themselves in the event of a breakdown. Many breakdown policies are cheaper than a Netflix subscription, with the RAC providing coverage from as little as £4.50 a month. This suggests many young motorists are taking a laissez-faire attitude and are simply not worried about breaking down or are unaware of the consequences if they do. It also indicates that the correct support and advice from parents, dealerships and online guides could be lacking or not as readily available .

Not having breakdown cover presents young motorists with a series of issues: they could be left stranded, and even if they can locate assistance, they face a minimum towaway charge of £250 and possibly more money for repairs.

Legal loopholes

The research finds a hefty 7 in 10 young motorists could be accidentally admitting guilt by apologising after a car accident or collision.


The survey results force us to think about how we can better inform young drivers about simple car maintenance checks.  With over half staring at an empty piggy bank, they are in dire need of easily-available education about this. Whether from from transport authorities or the older generation, it’ll provide self-sufficiency that will help them to avoid racking up huge car repair bills.

The reliance of young motorists on older vehicles increases the risk of breakdowns, and other issues these drivers may not know how to fix.

What’s more, with no major immediate changes expected to the UK driving test or any significant legislation which will educate younger drivers about car maintenance, the study highlights they just aren’t fully prepared for driving on the UK’s roads.

While younger motorists will suffer the immediate consequences, the impact is likely to be felt far and wide. Breakdowns and major faults invariably lead to accidents and disruption, which can affect all motorists.

With millennials unable to fall back on savings and the impact of Brexit still an unknown. the research shows it’s increasingly important for young motorists to brush up on their own car maintenance skills, or for a programme of education be implemented by the government. Both these tactics will help the UK’s millennials navigate their way through their first few cars without hassle – helping us all in the long run.

Share This Post