One In Five Motorists Does Not Carry Out Regular Basic Car Maintenance Check

14 February 2011

Having withstood one of the harshest winters in around 30 years, motorists are being encouraged by  Sainsbury’s Car Insurance to check that their cars remain roadworthy before setting off on even the shortest journey. The reminder comes after new research(1) from the supermarket bank reveals that some 7.2 million (21%) motorists claim that no-one performs any basic maintenance checks on their car on a monthly basis.

Worryingly, the findings highlight that the most neglected check to be undertaken, despite being a legal requirement, is ensuring your car’s tyre tread depth is at a minimum of 1.6mm; the survey revealed that just two in five (38%) motorists carry out this essential check on a monthly basis. Despite also being an essential regular inspection, to prevent your car’s engine from overheating, less than half (44%) of motorists surveyed don’t check the water coolant level.

Ben Tyte, Head of Sainsbury’s Car Insurance said: “Every day, we make considerations that will keep ourselves and our family healthy and safe, and we should apply the same train of thought to ensuring our cars are safe and roadworthy. It’s simple, straightforward and requires just a few minutes to carry out basic checks, and doing so will give you peace of mind that your car is in a good condition and safe to be on the road.

“If you’re unsure about how to carry out car maintenance checks, then you should consult your driver’s manual if you have one or maybe speak to a family member. A local garage or your road side assistance provider will be able to give you guidance or you could consult an online guide; we’ve produced a safety check guide available

Table showing how many of the below basic car checks are performed on a monthly basis


Type of check Percentage of people not testing at least once per month (1)
Tyre tread 62%
Water Coolant 56%
Winderscreen wipers in good working order 50%
Front, rear and brake lights 50%
Oil level 46%
Screen wash level 40%
Tyre pressure 40%

The research indicates that women are more likely than men to admit that the car they are driving does not undergo any monthly regular maintenance, with over a quarter (26%) of female respondents saying none of the aforementioned checks were performed on a monthly basis, compared with just 16% of men.


The overriding reason given by people for not making the various basic car maintenance checks, given by one in three people, is because they just don’t believe it’s necessary to do them.   Worryingly, the reason given by 23% of people who don’t check their tyre pressure and screen wash levels on a monthly basis is that they only make these checks if they’re setting off on a long journey.  And one in five (19%) people say their water coolant isn’t checked monthly because they don’t know how to do the check.

The findings also suggest that the older the motorist the more accountable they are for checking their car is roadworthy, with only 15% of 65-plus drivers saying their car wasn’t checked over on a monthly basis compared with 29% of those in the 18 – 24 age bracket.  The differences between the age bands are even more marked for certain individual checks with almost a half (47%) of over 65s saying they checked the tyre tread depths on their car compared with just 18% of 18 – 24s.

From a regional perspective, motorists in the East Midlands (85%), Scotland (84%) and the North East (83%) – all areas that were hit hard by the recent big freeze that swept across the Great Britain – are the most likely to make one or more of the maintenance checks monthly on their cars. This compares with drivers in areas less exposed to the heavy snow and icy conditions such as East England (71%) and London (73%) where drivers are less likely to do so.

Sainsbury’s Car Insurance offers motorists an extensive range of cover and benefits as well as competitive premiums.  This includes a courtesy car when using one of its recommended repairers (comprehensive cover only) and a no-claims discount of 70% if you take out a policy and have not made a claim in the past five years, rising to 75% after a further five years’ claim-free driving with Sainsbury’s Car Insurance.  It is also offers a five-year guarantee on all accident-related repair work, also when carried out by one of its recommended repairers.

Sainsbury’s Car Insurance offers a 10% discount when you buy online. For further information call 0800 032 0000, or pick up a leaflet in store.


For further information, please contact:

Sarah Rowan / Ian Morris
Citigate Dewe Rogerson
020 7638 9571

Notes to editors:

[1]ICM interviewed a random sample of 1610 adults aged 18+ via online between 14th and 16th January 2011.  Surveys were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted (grossed-up) to the profile of all adults (over 18s).  ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.  Further information at

Sainsbury’s Car Insurance is arranged and administered by esure Services Limited.  Registered in England No.2135610 at The Observatory, Reigate RH2 0SG. Not available in Northern Ireland or the Channel Islands. Age restrictions apply. Subject to normal acceptance criteria. Like all insurers there may be circumstances where we are unable to provide a quote.  Calls may be monitored and recorded.

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