Cost of living concerns leading to drivers skimping on servicing

More than half of motorists are worried about the cost of fuel, and many are cutting back on repairs to save money, according to the RAC...

Car being serviced

A new RAC Report on Motoring has revealed that 38% of people have cut back spending on their car in response to the pressure of high fuel prices. The cost of filling up their car’s fuel tank is the biggest concern for 55% of drivers, a figure that’s more than doubled from 24% last year.

And, while some of the measures they’re taking are sensible, such as not using valeting services and finding cheaper insurance, others are more worrying. Overall, 12% of drivers have put off minor vehicle repairs to save money and 9% have delayed getting their car serviced. And when the RAC asked younger drivers (aged between 17 and 24), 37% of them had delayed repairs due to cashflow issues, and 16% had put off major repairs.

“The squeeze on household budgets is unfortunately having an unwanted knock-on effect on the health of vehicles. This could very easily prove to be a short-term saving that ends up costing drivers dear in the longer term, because a well-maintained car is much less likely to break down and require expensive garage repairs,” states the report.

RAC and electric car

It also suggests that a larger percentage of people than before are planning on keeping their car for longer. Although 77% cite the fact that they’re happy with their current car as the reason for not replacing it in the next five years, 14% say the rising costs of energy and fuel are affecting their decision, and 8% say their income has dropped since the Covid-19 pandemic. Even those who are intending to replace their car say they have postponed the decision, with 47% citing concerns about the high price of secondhand cars.

More people than ever are intending to switch to an electric car when they renew their vehicle, with the appeal of lower running costs the main decider for 64% of those in this category. The report states that 14% of people expect their next vehicle to be fully electric, compared with 10% in 2021 and just 3% in 2018.

This echoes the findings of What Car?’s own research, which reveals that 32% of those visiting the What Car? website are in the market for an electric car.

In contrast, fewer people than before say their next car will be powered by petrol or diesel: 41% will choose a petrol model, compared with 45% in 2021, and just 13% will buy a diesel – 3% less than last year.

EV public charger

However, many people perceive difficulties in living with an electric car, and their worries have switched from how many miles the car will do between charges, to concerns around finding and using public electric car charging points. Although the majority of electric car owners charge their cars up at home, 33% of those responding to the survey said they live somewhere where they can’t charge an electric car.

According to the report, 60% of the people who won’t be choosing a battery electric car say it’s because they think there aren’t enough public charging points, and 51% are worried about the reliability of public chargers. They’re also worried about actually using electric car chargers, with 29% believing it will be difficult. Although the majority of people (53%) who already own an electric car think chargers are easy to use, a further 24% admit they find them tricky, echoing the fears of non-EV owners.

To compile the 2022 Report on Motoring, the RAC interviewed 3102 people who own a car and drive at least once a month. 

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