1 in 3 struggling with cost of driving as millions put off repairs to save money

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Rising fuel and insurance costs leave motorists struggling and living in fear of garage bills

One in three drivers has struggled with the cost of motoring in the last month as the cost of living crisis continues to bite.

A new poll of motorists found that 35% faced difficulty keeping their car running and 40% fear that they will have to give up driving if costs continue to rise. At the same time, up to 40% of drivers are putting off potentially repairs or their MOT test because they are scared of the garage bill.

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Research by Compare the Market estimates that the cost of running a petrol-fuelled car has risen by £272 in the last 12 months, leaving families struggling as they face rising household energy and grocery bills. It estimates that it now costs £1,866 a year to run an average car.

Much of the increase has been caused by rising fuel prices, with petrol and diesel now 21p and 43p more expensive than they were this time last year respectively. Compare the Market’s figures also suggest car insurance bills have risen by an average of £51 due to the rising cost of secondhand cars and soaring repair costs, while car tax is £10 a year more expensive than in 2021.

In a survey of drivers the comparison site found that 90% were worried about rising fuel prices and more than half (54%) were worried that they wouldn’t be able to afford enough petrol or diesel within the next three months. Nine out of 10 said that they were concerned that rising household bills would leave them struggling to afford any further rises in the cost of driving and 40% said they would need to take on additional debt to stay mobile.

Separate studies have recently found that drivers are so worried about vehicle running costs they have actively avoided having repairs carried out. According to the RAC’s Report on Motoring, 14% of drivers have put off repairs in the last year in a bid to save money. That rises dramatically to 37% of those under the age of 25. Another study by dealer network Dick Lovatt suggests that as many as 41% of drivers have delayed repairs for fear of not being able to afford the bill.

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Research by Halfords found that 40% of drivers had concerns about or were sure they wouldn’t be able to afford their car’s next MOT, which costs up to £54.85 before any necessary repair work. Worryingly, it found that almost half of them (45%) would keep driving without an MOT.

Chris Lunn, head of category at Halfords Autocentres, said the findings raised the prospect of more unsafe cars being kept on the road. He commented: “The findings raise serious concerns about the ability of Brits to afford key, safety-related, motoring expenses like MOTs, as well as the potential dangers this could lead to in the form of millions of cars on our roads without an MOT certificate. MOTs are a vital and legally-required check-up on any vehicle over three years old, to ensure it is roadworthy.”

Drivers are putting off repair and MOT work becuse they can’t afford the garage billsDrivers are putting off repair and MOT work becuse they can’t afford the garage bills
Drivers are putting off repair and MOT work becuse they can’t afford the garage bills | Adobe Stock

RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said putting off repairs, servicing and MOTs was a “false economy” but highlighted the stark struggles drivers face to cut their costs. He said: “The fact over a third of young drivers are deliberately delaying getting their vehicles fixed to cut costs is actually a harbinger of future unwelcome – and possibly far larger – garage bills. What’s more, not getting work to a car done means the chances of it letting a driver down shoots up, making it potentially less safe.

“Increasing prices are hitting drivers from all directions at the moment. If the high cost of fuel isn’t bad enough, drivers who do the right thing and take their vehicles to a garage will also see larger bills as car components and consumables are affected by rising material prices.”

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