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Jardine Motors tests the nation’s drivers on their car maintenance knowledge

The strange nature of the last years has totally changed the way that we live. We are spending more time than ever at home, and for many of us that has meant that we are driving less. With millions now working from home, cars that were previously used daily have been stuck on driveways for weeks on end.

Even if you are driving infrequently, it is still crucial to stay up to date with your car safety maintenance checks before getting behind the wheel. Whilst it is important to have your car regularly serviced and checked by professionals in line with MOT guidance, particularly in older or used cars, it is also important to have a working understanding of what is going on under your car’s bonnet before heading out on the road.

To understand how knowledgeable drivers fare in terms of vehicle safety car maintenance, we tested 1,000 motorists who own a car with questions based on the ‘show me, tell me’ elements of the practical driving test; to see just how knowledgeable British drivers are about what goes on under the bonnet. The results demonstrate that many drivers would struggle with this part of the driving test if they had to take it again today. 

Show Me, Tell Me

The most common ‘fail‘ was from drivers who would not know how to identify the correct warning light if there was a problem with their anti-lock brakes (ABS), with four out of five (80%) failing to answer correctly.

Over half of drivers stated that they could not change a flat tyre (58%), don’t know how to check the brake fluid (63%), and don’t know how to check the battery (64%).

Women out-perform men

Going against the outdated stereotype, women performed slightly better than men on the car safety maintenance questions, with a higher percentage of female drivers answering correctly on every question bar one. Over half of the male drivers that took part in the survey (56%) were unable to perform the various safety checks, compared to only 47% of female drivers. For example, seven out of ten men questioned (68%) did not know how to check their brakes compared to 54% of women, and 34% of men didn’t know how to check tyre pressure, with only 23% of women unable to answer correctly.

The only exception was on changing tyres, with more than half of men (53%) stating they could change a tyre, whilst only a third of female drivers (30%) could say the same.

Regional breakdown

Edinburgh residents struggled the most with their car maintenance knowledge, with six out of every ten people (60%) getting the average question wrong. Those in Manchester and Birmingham were close behind, with 59% of those from Manchester and Birmingham getting each question wrong on average.

Bristolians know their stuff when it comes to car maintenance, with only 32% getting each question wrong on average. People from Belfast also performed well, with only 37% getting each question wrong on average.

Age is just a number

The survey suggests that age is not an accurate predictor of car maintenance knowledge, with no clear pattern of one age group scoring higher than another.

The older drivers appear to have some areas of expertise, though. Only 13% of 65+ year-olds don’t know how to check the windscreen washer fluid, compared to a whopping 57% of 25-34-year-olds.

Image Quiz

To test the drivers in the study on if they could correctly identify the various elements of their car’s engines, we also asked them to name the different parts shown in the below images. Think you can do better than their average? Read on to find out.

One of the most important things you will find under your bonnet, but what is held here?

A. Brake Fluid Reservoir 

B. Power Steering Fluid Reservoir 

C. Oil Pipe

It is dangerous to drive when the levels are too low, and this needs to be replenished regularly. What is held here?

A. Windscreen Washer Tank 

B. Engine Coolant Reservoir 

C. Brake Fluid Reservoir

The car would not be able to function without this. What is held here?

A. Power Steering Fluid Reservoir 

B. Engine Coolant Reservoir 

C. Windscreen Washer Tank

Be sure to keep an eye on this one, it needs to be checked regularly. What is held here?

A. Brake Fluid Reservoir 

B. Engine Coolant Reservoir 

C. Windscreen Washer Tank

How do you compare?

Image Quiz Answers

  1. C (Oil Pipe)
  2. A (Windscreen Washer Tank)
  3. B. (Engine Coolant Reservoir)
  4. A. (Brake Fluid Reservoir)


When we surveyed 1,000 drivers on the above questions, a large percentage were unable to answer correctly.

Question 1 was the most difficult, with almost half of the drivers (48%) unable to correctly identify the oil pipe.

Question 2 was seen as the easiest, with three out of four (75%) correctly identifying the windscreen washer tank, however this still means a quarter of the drivers (25%) would be unable to replenish the windscreen washer fluid when needed.

On question 3, over a third of drivers (38%) were unable to correctly identify the Engine Coolant Reservoir whilst another third (36%) were unable to correctly identify the Brake Fluid Reservoir in question 4.

Keeping Up to Date

Though driving a new car can make car safety maintenance easier for drivers with prompts and warning lights, it is still vital that drivers develop a knowledge of basic car maintenance in order to stay safe at all times. The results of the study indicate that a large percentage of drivers could do with a refresher on what is going on under their bonnet, especially if they have not been using their car for a while.

For more information on car servicing and parts, click here.