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Car owners consider missing or delaying service as living costs rise

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More than half of car owners without a service plan are considering delaying or missing their vehicle’s annual service this year, as living costs rise rapidly.

A survey by The Motor Ombudsman also found that 68% of car owners who said they were looking to make savings this year, are planning to reduce motoring-related expenditure during 2022.

The study, which polled more than 2,000 car owners, found the majority (56%) of respondents who do not currently have a service plan in place are planning to miss (33%) or delay (23%) their car’s annual service this year beyond the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended interval.

Bill Fennell, chief ombudsman and managing director of the Motor Ombudsman, said: “April has seen a coming together of several cost of living increases, which have unfortunately hit the wallets of consumers all at the same time. It’s therefore inevitable that something has to give, and our study has shown that servicing and vehicle maintenance is being seen as less of a priority.

"This is of course concerning – not following the vehicle manufacturer’s servicing schedule, and not taking their car to a garage to be looked at by a professional in the event of any mechanical problems is essentially compromising the safety and value of the vehicle.”

Female car owners (57%), individuals residing in Wales (66%) and 45- to 54-year-olds (64%) emerged as being the least likely to, either get their car serviced at all this year, or to take their car to a garage on time once they had reached the next servicing interval based on the mileage completed, or on the 12-month anniversary since the last check.

Motorists said there were five key areas where they were looking to cut back. These were namely, by using their vehicle less, walking or cycling to destinations where they would have previously gone in the car, driving more efficiently to save fuel, shopping around for cheaper car insurance, and using public transport more often.

While the study has raised concerns about servicing not being seen as a priority this year, the research did provide some positive news. The poll found that 60% of car owners recognise the importance of servicing a vehicle in that it helps to prolong a vehicle’s lifespan, with an average of 30% of respondents also agreeing that it’s a crucial step in helping to protect the safety of themselves, passengers, and those around them.

Some 35% of car owners appreciated that having a service history improved the resale value of a car, with around one in three (29%) agreeing that keeping to a vehicle manufacturer’s servicing schedule helps to maintain the validity of a car's warranty should they wished to make a claim whilst the agreement was in force.

April is proving to be a challenging period for the nation’s households, resulting from the introduction of a 54% increase in the price cap for gas and electricity bills, and rises in council tax and Vehicle Excise Duty, which all came into force at the beginning of this month.

The current high cost of petrol and diesel at the pumps is a concern for 87% of car owners, according to The Motor Ombudsman poll, as well as surging inflation, making goods on shelves even more expensive.

Consumers are set to have even less money in their pockets due to having to pay 1.25% more in National Insurance contributions, with 69% of individuals surveyed saying that this was another source of worry.

Fennell added: “Even in these challenging times, it is important motorists keep their vehicle both roadworthy and legal at all times, and that any maintenance is carried out by a business that is accredited to The Motor Ombudsman’s comprehensive Motor Industry Code of Practice for Service and Repair. This will give consumers the added of peace of mind that a vehicle repairer will deliver high standards of work and service, and that they can turn to The Motor Ombudsman should there be a complaint they are unable to resolve with the business in the first instance.”

The aftersales sector has already lost an estimated £600m in the last two years, as a result of the decline in new cars sales caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the semiconductor shortage.

More than five million drivers have compared local prices to book MoTs, servicing and repairs using Book My Garage, channelling ‘millions of pounds’ of new income to its franchised and independent partners, it said.

In 2021, Book My Garage provided more than two million instant prices - a 45% increase on 2020 - with more than 9,000 franchised garage partners generating additional revenue from segment two, three and older vehicles, it said.

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