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Survey urges drivers to prepare for winter

According to a new survey by car maker Suzuki and road safety charity, Brake, UK motorists are putting themselves and others at risk by not addressing simple maintenance issues. Drivers are attempting to save money by ignoring warning signals, such as unusual noises, instead of taking the car to the garage. The survey revealed that 23% of drivers experienced such warning signals last year but 19% of them took no action.

According to a new survey by car maker Suzuki and road safety charity, Brake, UK motorists are putting themselves and others at risk by not addressing simple maintenance issues. Drivers are attempting to save money by ignoring warning signals, such as unusual noises, instead of taking the car to the garage. The survey revealed that 23% of drivers experienced such warning signals last year but 19% of them took no action. These drivers said that they couldn't afford the cost of a mechanic. The declining standards of car maintenance are confirmed by statistics from MoT test centres. These figures reveal that MoT test failures have risen to 40.1% in 2010 from 33.5% in 2005.

The dark winter evenings and mornings mean more commuting journeys take place in the dark. When these conditions are combined with the snow, ice and rain of British winters, even slight faults can become dangerous. An additional 23% of those drivers polled in the survey confessed that their car had a fault that would make it illegal to drive. These drivers could face penalties or fines if caught driving such a vehicle. The most common problem was illegal tyres, which are obviously even more dangerous on slippery winter roads. Other issues found concerned cracked windscreens and faulty brake lights. Alarmingly, the survey said that 22% of drivers of the affected vehicles said that they wouldn't be getting the problems fixed before winter sets in.

Brake deputy chief executive, Julie Townsend, said: "This survey suggests some drivers are feeling the pinch, but sacrificing car maintenance is a false economy and could lead to tragedy. It's especially important for drivers to be vigilant at this time of year, by carrying out regular basic checks themselves, especially ensuring tyres, lights, wipers and washers are in good condition, and seeking advice from a mechanic about any concerns. Simple checks and fixes are often low-cost and a key part of your responsibility as a driver. Getting any problems on your vehicle fixed quickly can prevent bigger repair costs, not to mention bad weather breakdowns and even potentially catastrophic crashes."

Suzuki's Alun Parry echoed her views, adding: "Cold weather has a serious impact on driving conditions and it is absolutely essential that drivers are ready for winter and their cars are up to scratch. Plus, it will mean your car is more fuel-efficient and have greater value when you want to sell it on."

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