Book Online

Car maintenance, servicing and MOTs are a blind spot for new drivers

When it comes to car maintenance, a lot of drivers think that their annual MOTs and services are all that their car needs to ensure it will run smoothly. But frequent car maintenance in between standard checks are integral to avoiding anything costly. 

Earlier this year, alongside our partners at Kwik Fit and Michelin, RED Driving School took part in some research to understand which areas – outside of the learning to drive process – in which learner and new drivers would benefit from some added advice. The results showed that car maintenance and MOTS are an area of uncertainty for many.

So much so, the survey found that 95% of respondents admit that they don’t perform basic checks between services and MOTs. The findings also revealed that almost a third (29%) of respondents wouldn’t be able to spot the signs of needing a brake replacement and over a quarter (27%) of respondents don’t know when their car is due a service. In addition to this, a significant portion of respondents (30%) didn’t know the difference between an MOT and a service.

As one of the largest independent automotive parts, repair and replacement specialists in the world, Kwik Fit has provided an easy guide to remembering the key differences between MOTs and services, and why frequent maintenance is important to car health.

What is it?The test is an annual inspection of your vehicle that is required by law. It follows a strict checklist of criteria set out by the DVSA that determines if your vehicle is fit for purpose and in roadworthy condition. Your vehicle may require additional work in order to pass your MOT but the test itself does not include any repairs or replacement parts.A service is a vehicle inspection based on guidelines set out by your vehicle manufacturer rather than the DVSA; it keeps your car in a reliable, safe, and fully-functioning condition. A service is not the same as an MOT, although some components are checked in both, such as tyres, brakes, and seatbelts. There are different levels of service, such as oil change, interim or full service, which include different numbers of checks. An MOT includes the same checks every year.
Why is it important?The test ensures the vehicle is safe to drive but doesn’t mean the car is running as well as it could be. That’s because the MOT test covers what’s ‘safety critical’ in your vehicle, not necessarily the health of the vehicle. So while things like brakes, lights, tyres, and seatbelts are covered in the MOT test, things such as your engine are not. That’s where a service will help.A service is more thorough in that it covers the vehicle health, not just the ‘safety-critical’ aspects of your vehicle. It also includes the replacement of some parts such as the engine oil in order to maintain the smooth running of your car. A full service can also include replacement spark plugs, fuel filter, and air filter (where applicable) to further improve vehicle performance. 

Seb Goldin, CEO of RED Driving School comments, “The findings of the survey demonstrate not only an education gap, but a lack of desire to understand how to safely maintain a car which can prove both dangerous and more costly in the long run. It’s not news or groundbreaking to announce that cars require maintenance – but it is a little startling to understand that this isn’t a priority for new and learner drivers who rely so heavily on their cars to get around and enjoy the freedom that learning to drive brings.”

The research also revealed that the main reason for delaying maintenance work in between designated services is due to the financial imposition that this brings, demonstrating that new drivers are potentially endangering themselves due to monetary concerns as the cost of living crisis continues to impact the UK.

Costs attached (indicative but not exact)MOT tests are capped at £54.85 for cars and caravans. Sometimes auto centres give promotional rates (as they’re allowed to charge less than the cap) but this is what to expect for the most part. The tests are less for motorbikes and three-wheel vehicles, because there are usually fewer components to check. This cost represents the MOT test element.There are different levels of servicing that you can have. Assuming your vehicle needs a full service, packages start at £184. This increases for vehicles with larger engines for a number of reasons. Usually, there are more components associated with larger engines, and you also need to use more fluids, such as engine coolant and oil.

Richard Bezzant, Marketing Director UK & ROI, Michelin Tyre PLC comments, “Checking things like your tyre pressure, tread depth and overall tyre condition should be conducted regularly and always prior to an MOT. They are simple but effective steps in helping to ensure vehicle safety, fuel efficiency and tyre life.

“You can measure tread depth in a variety of ways, ideally with a tread depth gauge – or if not to hand, by inserting a twenty pence coin – the outer band of which can help indicate if the minimum legal UK tread depth of 1.6mm is met. Insert the coin into the grooves.. If the coin’s outer band disappears from view across at least three quarters of the tread, there is sufficient tyre tread depth remaining.”

Eric Smith, Group MOT Scheme Manager at Kwik Fit comments, “The cost of an MOT test is a relatively small proportion of a car’s annual running costs and considering the number of checks it covers, it is really good value. It becomes more costly if a car fails its test, but if drivers regularly check their vehicle and keep it well maintained, they can steer clear of nasty surprises at MOT time. Many common MOT failures, such as illegal tyres, faulty brakes or lights not working, can be avoided by drivers monitoring their vehicle’s condition throughout the year.”

For more information about the importance and differences between individual types of car maintenance, please visit the Kwik Fit website: