With fuel prices at record highs and household bills through the roof, every driver is looking to save money where they can. And that got us thinking: just how well do British motorists really know the cost of maintaining a car?

To find out, we launched a survey quizzing drivers on the average costs of typical maintenance and running costs, like servicing, MOT, insurance, and car tax. We wanted to uncover just how much motorists know about the cost of car ownership, as well as the areas where people could make savings and tighten the purse strings.

Take a look at the full results of our study, and how we did it, below.


What Are the Most Under and Overestimated Costs of Car Maintenance?

If your car is due a service or repair, would you know how much cash to set aside? For everyday motorists, understanding maintenance and upkeep costs can be tricky. And that means that many people risk paying over the odds, oblivious as they are to the average price of things like new tyres, brakes, and interim servicing.

As part of our survey, we were keen to find out which maintenance tasks motorists struggle with the most when it comes to pricing. We wanted to know which maintenance costs drivers were most likely to over or underestimate, giving us a picture of the running costs that confuse drivers the most.

Take a look at the chart below to see the share of drivers that under and overestimated typical maintenance costs.

under-over estimated costs

If our survey is anything to go by, many motorists could be in for a nasty surprise when they take their car to a garage for routine maintenance and repairs. Aside from MOTs, drivers underestimated most common maintenance tasks, and some by a considerable margin.

For example, Brits will likely get a shock when they buy a new tyre, with 69% thinking a replacement costs less than £100. In reality, the average cost per new tyre is £101-£125, so drivers could face a significantly higher bill than they were expecting if they need to buy a full new set of rubber.

The same is true of new brake pads and discs, which over 60% of drivers underestimated the true cost of. A full set of brake pads and discs typically cost £250*, which is significantly higher than many people in our survey believed.

It wasn’t all bad news, however, with a huge majority of drivers overestimating the cost of MOTs. In fact, around 10% thought that the annual safety and roadworthiness test cost over £76 – more than double the average cost, which comes in at £35. Overall, Britons typically overestimate the cost of an MOT by 10%.

Elsewhere, motorists also dramatically overestimated the cost of an oil and filter change, with around a half (48%) of drivers believing this work costs more than £75. And it’s here where car owners need to be most careful, as they don’t want to let their lack of knowledge put them in a position where they’re happy to overpay for basic maintenance tasks.

For further insights into how the perception of prices differs from actual costs, take a look at our handy chart below.

Price vs Perception_ The Cost of Car Maintenance in the UK_

Which Age Groups Are Least Aware of Car Maintenance Costs?

As part of our survey, we were keen to find out how driver age can affect the perception of day-to-day car maintenance costs. So, we broke our results down by age range to see which group has the best knowledge of maintenance and upkeep prices.

When it comes to maintenance costs awareness, it seems like experience trumps youth, with the 45-54 and 65+ age bracket having a better understanding of average running costs. Interestingly, though, drivers aged 55-64 lacked the knowledge of the groups either side.

It’s perhaps no surprise that older motorists are more knowledgeable about how much it costs to run a car. After all, with years of vehicle ownership under their belts, they’ve probably experienced just about every type of repair and maintenance job there is – whether that’s fitting new tyres or having brake discs serviced or replaced.

That said, the fact that new drivers in the 18-24 age range were most likely to be ripped off on a visit to the garage – with 31% willing to pay more than they’d need to – is concerning. 18-year-old drivers buying their first car may be oblivious to the ongoing costs, and with fuel prices likely to continue rising, it’s important that they know how much their regular bills are likely to be down the road.

Which Type of Car Maintenance Would Your Region Overpay For?

Believe it or not, car maintenance costs differ by region, with drivers in London potentially paying way more than those in Scotland for some work, and vice versa. And that raises questions about the regional differences in vehicle maintenance costs, and in which areas of the country motorists are most likely to be ripped off.

Want to know what your region is most likely to overpay for? Take a look at our map below.

region graphic

When it comes to the possibility of overpaying for car maintenance work, the interim service proved the most confusing, with six regions likely to overpay for this annual expense. Motorists in the East, North West, South East, South West, Yorkshire and Scotland are all likely to pay over the odds for an interim service, suggesting that garages need to do more to improve the transparency of servicing costs.

London is the region most at risk of being ripped off, with the highest percentage of motorists (26%) willing to pay over the UK average for car maintenance. The North West, however, are the most clued-in on garage costs – with only 19% of drivers paying more than they have to in order to keep their cars in top condition.

Do British Motorists Know How Much They Spend in Car Tax and Insurance?

To get a complete picture of how knowledgeable British drivers are about running costs, we asked our survey respondents to say whether or not they are aware of how much they typically spend on tax and insurance. Thankfully, the results were reassuring.

Over half of drivers know exactly what they pay in car tax each year, while two-thirds could tell you their insurance premium. Still, 58% does seem low for car tax awareness; it could be that motorists have owned their car for a long time, and therefore aren’t aware of the exact amount they spend on tax each month.

Meanwhile, over a third (38%) don’t remember how much they pay for their car insurance.

Perhaps surprisingly, in our survey the 65+ age bracket felt they were the most clued in when it came to these costs – with 78% stating they were abreast of insurance costs and 69% saying they knew the cost of their tax.

New drivers in the 18-24 group were the least clued in on insurance – with 56% knowing how much they pay.

Car mechanic checking car wheel in the auto repair shop, holding clipboard and talking with customer.

How We Did It

Holts carried out a survey to determine how much the British public knows about the cost of car maintenance, including MOTs and services, oil, and filter changes, as well as car tax and insurance. The survey has helped to discover some key trends and insights into the UK’s knowledge of car maintenance expenses.

*These prices are based on an average petrol hatchback, as if the work was being carried out at a main dealership with genuine parts.

How Holts Can Help

Of course, not all car maintenance tasks always need professional help. At Holts, we offer a wide selection of high-quality DIY repair products for your car. From fixing radiator leaks to patching holes in the exhaust, Holts can help keep your car in perfect condition without pricey auto repair costs.

Holts is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of car maintenance products, with specialist DIY tools for fixing punctures and repairing broken exhausts. To learn more about our problem-solving maintenance tools and accessories, visit the homepage.