Rise in cost of living is driving motorists to cut back on the essentials, survey finds

Drivers are being warned not to postpone car servicing

Many Irish drivers are postponing their car servicing to try and save money© Getty Images/Westend61

Eddie Cunningham

The surge in the cost of living is driving motorists to cut back heavily in key areas, a new survey has found.

It discovered that a large proportion (57pc) of drivers are deliberately cutting back on mileage to save money. It found that women drivers (62pc) are more likely to curtail their mileage compared with men (52pc).

More serious, however, is the revelation that one in three drivers are either delaying or totally skipping the scheduled service for their car.

At the same time, one driver in five is putting off buying a new car while a similar percentage are opting for a second-hand as opposed to a new model.

The survey, carried out by Ford, prompted concern that skipping a car service, in particular, can be a false economy. It could mean people are driving an unsafe car if parts such as brakes are not regularly checked.

Ford’s John Manning said that while car companies are well on their way to an electric future that will reduce the overall cost of motoring, internal combustion engines will be the most common source of power for car owners for some time. And that, he says, comes with “specific costs”.

“Our survey has shown that many motorists are doing their best to ease that cost burden in the tough economic climate,” said Mr Manning.

“While we can understand drivers are looking to reduce their mileage with the aim of saving on fuel expenditure, given the volatile nature of fuel costs over the past year, we would ask the 30pc of car owners who said they would either skip or delay a service action to think again.”

He said that by skipping or delaying a service, a motorist may well be saving money in the short term, but they could be storing up longer-term problems that will cost even more in the long run.

He gives the example of changing the oil. Missing a scheduled service can cause sludge to build up in the engine. According to Mr Fanning, that sludge can lead to increased engine wear, reduced engine performance and, consequently, reduced fuel economy.

“In extreme cases, sludge build-up can negatively impact on your car’s emissions which could lead to a car failing the NCT,” he said.

For the record, in addition to changing the oil as part of the scheduled service, a reputable technician will also carry out a check on critical items such as:

• Brakes / brake fluid moisture content.

• Tyres and tread depth.

• Corrosion and paintwork.

• Lights and alignment.

• Pollen and cabin filter.

According to the survey, 38pc of motorists don’t realise that not adhering to a correct service timeframe could also render the manufacturer’s warranty on the car to be null and void.

“Manufacturers recommend an annual service as it can help to flag up issues with the car before they become serious,” said Mr Manning.

“It is for that reason that some manufacturers consider a car’s warranty to be null and void if a car has missed more than one service action.”

The fact that 20pc of car owners are forced into a position where they feel there is no option but to “make do” with their current car because it is too costly to buy a new one makes not cutting back on servicing all the more important for safe driving.

The same principle applied to those who are buying used instead of new.