Car Maintenance Costs UK Drivers £4.2bn Every Year

author image-sarah
By Sarah Watts
Updated on Tuesday 22 June 2021

A mechanic looking at a car s engine

A recent survey has revealed that UK motorists spend a combined £4.2bn per year on car maintenance.

MoneySuperMarket discovered that on average, UK drivers spend around £185 a year on car maintenance, with East Midlands’ motorists paying the highest amount (£211) and London dwellers the lowest (£148).

The study indicates most drivers’ lack of confidence in conducting basic car maintenance checks and repairs appears to be the issue, as:

  • Only 11% of motorists feel confident about car maintenance
  • More than half (54%) are uneasy about changing lights
  • 45% feel unnerved about changing tyres
  • 38% feel apprehensive about changing windscreen wipers

What is car maintenance?

Car maintenance means having your car routinely inspected and tested by having a yearly MOT test and a regular car service to ensure your car is properly maintained and repaired.

Additionally, car maintenance checks can be carried out by you personally and certain minor defects like incorrect tyre pressure or topping up oil, can usually be remedied without the need for professional mechanical assistance.

Maintaining your car in between MOTs and services helps to keep your car in optimum working order, fully legal, roadworthy, insured, safe and reliable.

What is routine maintenance on a car?

Routine car maintenance typically means the driver personally conducting basic car checks and carrying out any necessary remedial repairs in between their car having an MOT test or car service.

The following checklist sets out all routine car maintenance checks you are able to carry out yourself to avoid wasting money, invalidating your car insurance, putting you or your passenger's (or passengers') safety at risk and to avoid hefty penalties or fines.

Car maintenance checklist

Car part


Maintenance Tips


Is tyre pressure correct and tread deep enough?

Pump up or deflate tyres to correct pressure as per car manual and replace bald or overworn tyres.

Engine oil

Have you checked your oil level with your dipstick lately?

Top up to just below the maximum level.


Has your windscreen got any chips or cracks?

Arrange for professional repair or for small chips, DIY with a chip repair kit.

Windscreen wash

Have you got enough windscreen wash for your next journey?

Top up to maximum level and make sure it’s an antifreeze formula in colder months.

Window wipers

Do your window wipers work effectively? Check for cracks and missing rubber.

Replace wipers yourself when necessary or go to somewhere like Halfords who can do it for you.


Check all lights are working, including front lights on dip and main beam, and rear lights.

Replace bulbs yourself or go somewhere like Halfords. Electrical faults will usually require a mechanic.


Check both indicators are working, including the hazard function.

Replace bulbs yourself or go somewhere like Halfords if you can't. Electrical faults will usually require a mechanic.


Can you clearly see in your mirrors? Are there any cracks?

If a mirror is badly cracked, you should be able to replace yourself. If it’s really dirty, give it a good clean!

Number plate

Is part of it missing? Is your number clearly legible or is it covered by dirt?

Replace damaged number plates if any part of the registration is slightly missing or illegible. If it’s too dirty to read, clean it or risk a fine of up to £1,000!


Are your brakes squeaking or making strange grinding noises when you brake?

With some cars, you can visually check how worn the brake pads are through your wheel spokes. Alternatively, you can get free brake checks at some garages like Kwik-fit or Halfords Autocentres.


Is your engine turning over slower than it used to or is your red battery light flickering or taking longer to go out?

Green Flag recommends replacing your car’s battery every three years, although Halfords say some are guaranteed to last between 3 and 5 years. If you don’t feel DIY confident, see if you can buy a new battery from somewhere that fits it for free.

Coolant (Antifreeze)

Check levels are kept between minimum and maximum, all year round.

Top up to just below maximum in accordance with your car manual’s instructions.

Car horn

Is your car horn loud and clear? Albeit a useful tool for road rage, a loud horn is essential for danger warnings to others.

If your horn isn’t working due to a blown fuse, you can usually replace a fuse by referring to the car’s manual. Or, if you need a new horn, you will usually require a mechanic.


Is it noisy, leaking or smoking?

Book your car into a garage pronto.

Dashboard lights

Have you got unknown lights lit up on your dashboard? Check what the light means in your car's manual.

If the warning light indicates a problem you can’t deal with or it isn’t clear if it’s a major issue, get yourself booked into a garage ASAP. If a garage isn’t sure, they’ll run diagnostic tests to find out what the problem is.


Keep an eye on rust as it can damage your car’s frame if left unchecked.

There are plenty of products and guidance online for DIY rust treatment. If you don’t feel confident in DIY, then you should ask for quotes from local garages.

How much should car maintenance cost per year?

According to the RAC, you can expect to pay an average of £472 per year for necessary car maintenance on used cars which covers the cost of an MOT, a car service and any repairs.

However, you should bear in mind that car maintenance costs vary depending on your car’s age, type and condition, how much maintenance you’re able to do yourself and whether you’re having an interim, full or major car service in a particular year.

For more info about car costs, take a look at our guide: The average cost of a full car service

How to save money on car maintenance

There are many ways in which you can save money on car maintenance, including:

  • Driving carefully (i.e. try to brake/accelerate gently and slow down around corners)
  • Conducting regular DIY maintenance checks yourself (see the checklist above)
  • Shopping around for servicing quotes from more than one garage
  • Shopping around for tyres (and if they wear out quickly, get an alignment check)
  • Shopping around for car parts to see if you can get cheaper than your mechanic

How often should you service your car?

You should service your car as regularly as your car manual recommends, but typically, you should book your car in for:

  • An interim service every 6 months or every 6,000 miles (whichever is soonest)
  • A full service every 12 months or every 12,000 miles (whichever is soonest)
  • A major service every 24 months or every 24,000 miles (whichever is soonest)

For more details about car servicing, check out our blog: What is the average cost of a full car service?

Who is responsible for maintenance on a leased car?

A car lease contract will set out who is responsible for maintenance on a leased car.

Some car lease deals can include cover for the cost of servicing, tyres and repairs as part of the deal and other deals will require you to pay an extra monthly fee for a maintenance contract.

If maintenance costs do not form part of your lease then the lease will usually specify that a franchised dealer or authorised VAT-registered agent be used to carry out any maintenance or servicing.

What type of deal you opt for will depend on how many miles you travel per year and how much the car servicing would cost versus the yearly cost of paying for a maintenance package.

If you travel an excessive amount (i.e. 20,000 miles or more) then an inclusive maintenance deal could be a good option.

Note: check the smallprint of any car lease contract for what’s considered to be ‘fair wear and tear’ to avoid hefty financial penalties when you return a leased vehicle at the end of your contract.

Should I do my own car maintenance?

Yes, you should carry out your own ‘routine’ car maintenance and repairs.

For a full list of car maintenance tips, take a look at our car maintenance checklist above.

More complex mechanical or electrical issues are normally best dealt with by a professional garage. Also, bear in mind that any hardcore DIY maintenance and servicing may decrease your car’s value.

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