Generation ‘No Savings’: Millennials risking thousands in car repairs

Author: Select Car Leasing     Date: 01-03-2019

A new independent national research study conducted by Select Car Leasing reveals many young motorists are lacking critical car maintenance understanding as well as essential legal motoring knowledge, leading to huge potential repair costs and financial outlays many can’t afford. 

Coupled with this, recent 2018 Office of National Statistics data reveals a startling half (53%) of young people in the UK aged 22 to 29 have no savings at all, a significant 12 percentage point increase from 4 in 10 (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, in turn compounding personal financial pressure over the longer term.  Unaware, underprepared and without the correct skills or spare money to readily fix these issues, younger drivers are becoming trapped in a downward spiralling financial circle regarding their car.

A generation not blessed with a large money pot and facing uncertain economic times, avoiding being slapped with unexpected repair costs as well as fines is of major importance for young motorists in 2019.

broken car

Key Research Insights

  1. 'Generation No Savings’… Over half (53%) of young people have no savings in 2019. Furthermore, the majority are unaware of how to carry out the most basic car maintenance checks
  1. Millenials risk major car repair costs and fines… 18-24 year old lack of road knowledge means they are risking a potential eye-watering £7,200 in fines  and repair costs
  1. Brake pad blindness… Less than three in ten young motorists know how to check their brake pads, jeopardizing their own and other motorists’ safety on the road
  1. Tyre tread ignorance… Almost half of young motorists are unaware of how to check tread depth – opening themselves up to almost £3k in fines
  1. Tyre pressure philistines… Almost one third of 18-24 year old motorists don’t know how to check their tyre pressure, which could result in a nasty accident
  1. Young UK adults predominately relying on older, unreliable cars to get by… with only 3% likely to be driving a safer brand-new car model, compared to 14% of 55-64-year olds
  1. Young motorists rarely carry out car maintenance at recommended frequency, if at all less than one in ten 18–24-year olds maintain their car according to the correct schedule advised by Michelin and other authorities, the lowest score of all age ranges by a substantial margin
  1. Involved in an accident? Young motorists are phoning the wrong people... After an accident an overwhelming proportion of younger drivers are likely to  call a family member, such as a parent, rather than call 999 or 101 to properly report the incident
  1. Care free attitude to breakdown cover among Millennials evident… A staggering four in ten cash strapped youngsters either don’t have breakdown cover or are unaware if they do
  1. Millennials ignorant of potential ‘legal ramifications’ of apologising after an accident… the research finds a hefty seven in ten young motorists could be accidentally admitting guilt by apologising after a car accident or collision


Research Findings

Millennials significantly lack car maintenance knowledge

The national research study reveals that, of all the age ranges, young motorists have by far the least amount of knowledge regarding car maintenance.  The results clearly indicate that learning to properly maintain their vehicles will save them thousands of pounds over the next couple of years.

The study findings show the shockingly low levels of knowledge when it comes to checking or maintaining a vehicle:

  • The 18-24 year old age group saw the highest proportion (27%) unaware of how to check brake pads. Failing to do so can allow the brakes to thin and become worn. Continuing to neglect them can result in overheating and brake failure, thus   endangering the safety of the driver and other motorists.
  • Almost half (44%) of 18–24 year olds don’t know how to carry out tyre tread maintenance, risking a potential repair cost of £2,500. In comparison,just one in ten drivers aged 65 or over said they didn’t know how to carry out this task.
  • Our survey also found only half (49%) of motorists between the ages of 18–24 know how to carry out simple windscreen wiper maintenance which, if left unchecked, could lead to a scratched windscreen and a repair bill of up to £100.
  • Millennials are risking major car repair costs and fines - 18-24 year old lack of knowledge on the road means they are risking up to an        estimated £7,200 in fines and repair costs.

Car Maintenance Checks to carry out

The survey results raise strong questions about how younger drivers can be better informed on simple car maintenance checks.  With over half staring at an empty piggy bank, they are in dire need of education around simple car maintenance tasks to provide the self-sufficiency that will help them to avoid racking up huge car repair bills.

Young UK adults predominately relying on older, unreliable cars to get by

Compounding this lack of car maintenance knowledge, from data published by British Car Auctions, out of all age groups, younger drivers are the least likely to be driving a new car, with only 3% having bought a new car in the last two years.

The research reveals a worrying correlation for younger drivers, as driving an older or second-hand car greatly increases the chance of faults, breaking down and the need for ongoing costly repairs.

Share of new and used cars purchased in the UK

Young motorists rarely carrying out car maintenance at recommended frequency

With a lack of knowledge, the research study has also uncovered young motorists are rarely carrying out car maintenance at the correct frequency, if at all.

Though knowledge on how often to carry out maintenance is lacking across all age ranges, the research particularly shows younger motorists are trailing well behind other age groups.

Only one in ten 18–24 year old motorists know the recommended schedule to check tyre pressure is once per month. This is essential car maintenance to carry out, 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, accidents.

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

The results are quite staggering. On average, less than one in ten 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 and may lead to substantial car repair bills in the future. 

how often the uk population carries out maintenance checks


Involved in an accident? Young motorists are phoning the wrong people

The data also highlights some key differences across the age ranges when it comes to what people do immediately after being involved in an accident. 18–24 year olds are much more likely to call a family member immediately after a minor accident, such as a parent – but is the younger generation calling the wrong people?

Official recommendation from consumer watchdog ‘Which?’ advises that if you happen to be in an accident, take a look around - if anyone has been injured call 999 for an emergency response as soon as possible and if an emergency response isn’t necessary, motorists should call 101 instead, not a family member.

whom to call first after a minor car accident

Although contacting a partner or family member after an accident may provide peace of mind, this could ultimately turn out to be a poor decision in the long run and it’s important that accidents, especially serious ones, are reported as a matter of urgency.

The research findings clearly highlight that young drivers are putting themselves at huge risk by not calling the relevant body first if they happen to be in an accident.

Who You Gonna Call? – Males and Females divided on who to call after accident 

whom to call first after a minor car accident - by gender


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. While men showed a more practical, but still incorrect approach, with 32% stating they would call their insurance company.

With many drivers choosing to contact partners or insurance companies and failing to quickly report the incident to the authorities or emergency services; they risk disrupting traffic, complicating insurance claims and endangering their own safety.

Care free attitude to breakdown cover among Millennials evident

The study uncovered fascinating insights about the risks many young motorists are willing to take on the road. 

Almost 4 in 10 motorists aged 18-24yrs said they didn’t have or were unaware if they had breakdown cover – compared to a significant 9 in 10 (85%) of 45+ respondents who said they were covered.

Car Maintenance Checks to carry out

This raises important questions about why many of the UKs newest motorists are failing to properly safeguard themselves in the event of 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 to the younger generation.

Not having breakdown cover presents young motorists with a series of issues should the worst happen. Drivers without proper cover could be left stranded or isolated. Even if they can locate assistance, they face a minimum towaway charge of £250 and may take a further hit on repairs to make the car roadworthy again.

Millennials ignorant of potential ‘legal ramifications’ of apologising after an accident

The AA recommends not apologising or admitting responsibility for the accident until you’re completely aware of what happened. This helps to protect you from liability if it wasn’t your fault.

However, many motorists are unaware this could be a key sticking point in the process following a collision. The research study found an average of 30% of all motorists said they simply didn’t know if apologising would classify them as at fault for the accident.

apology stats after car accident

Although by apologising, you aren’t absolutely admitting fault, it could be interpreted as an admission of guilt and can be used against you at a later date, should there be an insurance claim or court proceedings.

Our independent survey once again unearths a huge chasm between attitudes of younger and older drivers on the road. The 18-24 age group saw the highest proportion of those who would be more likely to apologise after an accident – again potentially piling further misery on themselves should it be taken as an admission of guilt.

Only 28% of 18-24 year old thought that apologising classifies the accident as your fault, while almost half of the over 65 generation believed this to be the case.

This suggests younger drivers are simply not being educated enough in the correct procedure after an accident and uncovers a naivety that is less apparent in the older generation.

Low estimates suggest 165,000 people were involved in accidents in the UK last year and its clear greater support and assistance must be offered to younger drivers on how to handle a collision, however small. 

Study Conclusions

The study finds young drivers desperately need better maintenance knowledge, but greater education and support must be provided from transport authorities and the older generation

  • The independent research study clearly shows young motorists lack of car maintenance knowledge is costing them thousands in repair costs, many of which can be easily avoided, remedied or even prevented by conducting simple regular checks on their vehicle.
  • Young motorists under 24 years old are 14% more likely to drive a used car than new. As a result they are greatly increasing the risk of breakdown or running into future car repair problems with their vehicles.
  • Alongside this, the data clearly demonstrates younger drivers, when compared to their older counterparts, are much less prepared for a breakdown or the aftermath of an accident, with many not covered on breakdown or servicing plans. Furthermore, a large proportion are simply unaware they may be risking incriminating themselves after an accident by apologising immediately after an accident.
  • With no major immediate changes expected to the UK driving test or any significant legislation which will educate the younger generation regarding ancillary car elements such as car maintenance, the study highlights the UK’s newest drivers aren’t fully prepared for driving on the UKs roads.
  • While younger motorists will suffer the immediate consequences, the impact is likely to be felt far and wide. With neglecting vital maintenance, comes the risk of breakdown and major faults, which invariably leads to accidents and considerable disruption on the roads for all motorists.
  • With millennials unable to fall back on savings and the impact of Brexit still an unknown on the future of the UK’s economy, the research shows it is increasingly important for either young motorists to take it upon themselves to brush up on their car maintenance skills or a programme of education be implemented by the government to help the UKs Millennials navigate their way through their first few cars without hassle or worry.
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Select Car Leasing is a trading style of Select Contracts (UK) Limited and the firm is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority FRN 670832. Select Car Leasing are a credit broker not a lender. VAT Registration No 181 8746 74. ICO Registration ZA076253. Company Number 065690988. Select Car Leasing are proud to be a member of the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) No 1846.


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Select Car Leasing is a trading style of Select Contracts (UK) Limited and the firm is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority FRN 670832. Select Car Leasing are a credit broker and not a lender. VAT Registration No 181 874674. ICO Registration ZA076253. Company Number 06569098. Select Car Leasing are proud to be a member of the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA), No 1846. Registered address: Atlantic House, Imperial Way, Reading, Berkshire, RG2 0TD

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