Monday 1st February 2016
New study finds more than half of motorists can’t change a wheel

So, you have a flat tyre? Hopefully it’s something you’ve found before driving off as a flat tyres means you don’t have full control of the vehicle, making them driving extremely dangerous. So having a spare handy comes highly recommended, and knowing how to fit it should be part of the deal too!

Rob Hull, The Daily Mail, reports:

New research has discovered that more than half of drivers in the UK can't fit a spare wheel if their car has a puncture.

The study, carried out to see what percentage of the nation's motorists can carry out 'basic' maintenance tasks on their cars, found that 55 per cent said they'd not have a clue what to do with a jack and a locking nut.

But a review of the new car market shows that knowing how to change a wheel is becoming less of a necessity, as just 42.5 per cent of models now come with a spare as standard.

A survey carried out by 1,000 drivers asked if they were savvy enough to carry out simple tasks on their car, from opening the bonnet to checking the oil and brake fluid.

Of the all the drivers quizzed from a number of the nation's major cities, including Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, London and Newcastle, just 45 per cent said they could replace a wheel on their own.

However, with fewer and fewer cars being sold with full-size or smaller space-saver spare wheels, changing a wheel will soon become a redundant skill altogether.

With the growing popularity of run-flat tyres — those with stiffer side walls that can be driven for short periods when punctured - and carmakers striving to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions outputs, repair kits have been favoured by manufacturers over heavier spare wheels as the standard equipment to rectify a flat tyre.

Another study finds the youngest age group of drivers are the least skilled when it comes to fitting a spare wheel — just 24 per cent said they knew how to do it

The survey results threw up a number of other surprising figures too, suggesting one in five UK drivers don't know how to open their car bonnet.

At a more granular level, a third of women said they didn't know how to release the lock on their car hood, along with two in five 25 to 34 year olds.

The below shows the percentage of drivers that can do these maintenance tasks:

  • Open the bonnet 72%
  • Check the oil level 69%
  • Check the tyre pressure 66%
  • Top up the wiper fluid 66%
  • Programme the in-car radio 55%
  • Adjust the height of the steering wheel 47%
  • Change a wheel 45%
  • Check brake fluid 35%
  • Check brake pads 21%
  • None of the above 4%

Alarmingly, one in ten of the motorists interviewed admitted they would use boiling water to clear their frozen car windows on a winter day, rather than the correct method of using de-icer.

And there were causes for concern when it comes to safety, with just 19 per cent of UK drivers knowing the correct stopping distance when driving at 30mph.

Over a third of participants (37 per cent) thought the stopping distance when travelling at 30mph was nine metres, when in fact it's more than double that — 23 metres.

More than half also admitted to not knowing how to adjust the height of the steering wheel in their vehicle.

So how would you fare if it came to testing your knowledge around the maintenance of your own vehicle? Do these statistics sound right? The best way of ensuring you know how to properly check your brake fluid, or even programme the in-car radio would be the ask a professional, whether that be the dealer you bought from, or your local garage.

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