How much does a breakdown cost you? A couple of hundred pounds in repairs? Is that it? What about all the hidden costs you don’t think about: the missed appointments, the time wasted, the extra cost of getting around. And if you didn’t spend that money on a breakdown, what else could you spend it on?

There’s no denying that car breakdowns are a huge inconvenience, leaving you stranded at the roadside when you should be elsewhere. They can also be extremely dangerous, with you and your family exposed to the hazards of a busy road.

But something that many drivers forget to consider when it comes to breakdowns is the extra costs involved. When your car breaks, it isn’t just the recovery and repairs you need to think about; it’s all the other costs and complications that come with it.

At Holts, we’ve always been firm believers in good car maintenance, and fixing problems quickly before they become bigger issues. That’s why we were keen to find out just how much British drivers spend every year on fixing problems with their cars, and what a roadside breakdown really costs.

Surveying 2,000 UK drivers, we made some startling discoveries about the true cost of car problems. Take a look at some of the headline statistics below.

Big Annual Costs for UK Car Repairs

Did you know that the average British driver spends over £500 a year fixing problems with their car? Our survey of 2,000 drivers found that people fork out an average of £559 a year in repair bills, spending money on problems they could fix themselves, or avoid altogether with the right maintenance and upkeep.

The biggest spenders when it comes to repair bills are Londoners, who spend an average of £721 on unnecessary repair costs. Elsewhere, drivers in Leeds spent the least on average, with £476 going towards keeping their cars on the road.

mechanic talking to car owner

Altogether, British drivers spend an average of £21 billion a year on car repair costs, which is a staggering amount of money by any standard. Great news for garages and professional car repair services, but bad news for everyday motorists who would probably rather spend their hard-earned money on something else.

What Does a Roadside Breakdown Really Cost?

Aside from being inconvenient and dangerous, roadside breakdowns are also expensive – and we’re not just talking about the cost of recovery and repairs. Our research found that breakdowns could end up costing a lot more than the price of breakdown cover, with all sorts of hidden costs to contend with – including loss of wages, which stands at an average of £128 per day for full-time workers.

Each year, we Brits spend an average of £330 million on emergency breakdown cover. And while we’d always encourage you to take out a roadside recovery policy, this doesn’t mean you should neglect to service and maintain your car at the same time.

What’s more, there are other costs to breaking down by the side of the road, beyond how much money it could set you back. Our research shows that drivers regularly miss important appointments, meetings and life events as a result of being stranded at the roadside, with one in 10 drivers saying they’ve waited over 10 hours for help following a breakdown.

The top 10 events that drivers have missed due to a breakdown include:

  • An important baby event
  • A job interview
  • A birthday party
  • A date
  • Parents evening
  • A child’s sports game
  • A child’s school concert
  • A funeral
  • A holiday abroad
  • Somebody else’s wedding

The Hidden Cost Of A Breakdown Asset

What Are the Main Causes of UK Breakdowns?

Breaking down at the roadside is a nightmare for any driver, but why exactly do these incidents happen? And what are the main faults and causes of a car being stranded at the side of the road?

Our survey revealed that, of all the problems to encounter out on the road, five problems came out on top:

While some faults happen through no fault of the driver and require a professional to put right, others are down to a lack of proper maintenance and an unwillingness to fix small problems. So why then are UK motorists so reluctant to pop the bonnet and maintain their own car?

It could be said that Brits appear to be shying away from dealing with car issues. Our survey found that people from the north are less likely to fix their own car than people from the south, with Manchester residents showing the least will to get their hands dirty. Why? Most admit to lack of confidence, suggesting that as cars become more complex, drivers feel less comfortable repairing things themselves.

A Final Word from the Experts at Holts

Commenting on the findings of our survey, Holts’ brand manager Tavia Spencer said: “Our research highlights that drivers are spending excessively when it comes to repairs on the car, especially when many of these can be fixed at home or by the roadside. You often don’t need to be a fully-trained mechanic or savvy under the bonnet, there are simple solutions available which will reduce call outs and lost time.

Father and Son fixing a car

“If drivers were more confident doing basic repairs on their cars, the money saved could be spent on more fun activities. For example, two people could go to the cinema 28 times in a year if they didn’t spend money on breaking down, or experience a weekend away in Berlin, Germany. Coffee lovers could even enjoy 240 cups in a year. We’re trying to encourage drivers to look at alternative options and spend their money on life’s little luxuries instead.

“While breaking down can be a real inconvenience and cause a number of disruptions, there are processes and emergency products available to help drivers get back on the road in a simple way with minimal fuss.”

So, there you have it, an in-depth look at the hidden costs of UK breakdowns, and why maintaining your own car could help you save a whole lot of time and money. If you’re ready to take a hands-on approach to maintaining your car, Holts has everything you need to get started. For more information and our full product range, visit the homepage.