Motorists who fail to carry out basic safety checks on their vehicles over winter face “potentially disastrous” consequences, the RAC has warned.

According to new research – which took into account responses from 2,000 drivers – more than a third only check their car’s oil levels every two months, with a further 7% only checking when prompted to do so by a warning light.

Motorists fare only a little better when it comes to checking the tread on their tyres, with 58% saying they check at least once a month. Shockingly, 37% of drivers are only checking once every two months, or at worst, once a year.

Checking tyre pressure is also neglected by drivers, with only 32% of those surveyed doing so every fortnight.

Windscreen wipers are the most widely-neglected car part and while 33% check they are functioning properly every month, 30% simply wait until their wipers stop working before changing them.

RAC Patrol of the Year, Chris Burgess said: “While there are no hard-and-fast rules on exactly how often drivers should check basic things like oil, windscreen wipers and tyres, our research suggests a sizeable proportion are chancing it and hoping their car won’t fail them – which is a worry given the current sub-zero temperatures.

“The prolonged cold snap now gripping the country means that the risks of vehicles breaking down increases significantly. During the snowy conditions in December we saw breakdown volumes increase by around a fifth (20%) in some parts of the country so it really does pay to make sure your car is prepared before setting out.

“Checking things like tyres, oil, coolant and wipers takes little time – and can often be simple and reasonably cheap to sort out. The risks of not checking things and getting them fixed or topped up is potentially disastrous – at worst, you could be risking an accident or breakdown in freezing conditions, and at best you’re storing up problems that could prove to be very expensive in the long run.”

The research also found that 30% of drivers aren’t checking their lights regularly. Almost a quarter (24%) admit they only do so every three months at best.

As temperatures plummet across the UK this week, Mr Burgess advises all drivers to “err on the side of caution” and be “overly frequent” with basic vehicle safety checks.

He said: “While some drivers might think we suggest overly frequent checks of things like oil, coolant and tyres, it is definitely a case of being ‘better safe than sorry’. By erring on the side of caution and keeping a close eye on the condition of your car, you are much less likely to run into problems.

“In the current very cold weather we also ask drivers to think about friends and family who drive, and to pass on the message that taking just a little bit of time to check over things on their car can make the difference between a safe and trouble-free journey and a cold wait at the side of the road.”

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