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The UK’s Phone-a-Friend Mechanics

Even though there are tens of millions of car owners across the UK, the number of drivers who are able to maintain their vehicles independently is substantially low. In fact, almost three in four UK drivers (72%) admitted to having car maintenance issues they were not able to fix themselves. But who is the most popular ‘phone-a-friend’ mechanic when we need assistance with our vehicles?  

Via a poll of drivers, our research highlights the person motorists are the most likely to call upon when facing car maintenance trouble, how we go about repaying them (if at all) and our willingness to teach ourselves how to fix these issues to be prepared for when we face them again.  

Who is the UK’s most popular ‘phone-a-friend’ mechanic? 

According to our study, Brits have revealed they were more likely to call on their husbands and boyfriends (23%) when faced with car maintenance issues compared to their mechanic (20%).  
Dads also ranked high up on the list as one of the most commonly contacted individuals when it comes to car maintenance (7%). In fact, new drivers rely on their dad most, as they were found to be the number one choice amongst those in their first few years of driving. Almost one in four (24%) drivers aged between 17-24 relied on their dads for a helping hand.'. Almost one in four (24%) drivers aged between 17-24 relied on their dads for a helping hand.

Rank  Individual Percentage of Brits who sought their assistance  
1 Husband / Boyfriend  23%
2 ​Professional mechanic 20%
3 Father 7%
4 Friend 4%
5 Another male family member (uncle, father-in-law, male cousin etc.) 3%

When thanking individuals for helping with their car troubles, almost half of drivers (49%) believed a simple ‘thanks’ was a sufficient repayment. A further one in five Brits treated their phone-a-friend mechanic to a meal (21%) or brought them an alcoholic gift (21%), as well as one in six (16%) who said thanks by buying a round in the pub.

The UK’s car maintenance teachers

Rank Individual Percentage of brits who have been taught about car maintenance by this individual  
1 Dad 17%
2 Husband/Boyfriend 12%
3 Professional mechanic 4%
Joint 4 Brother 3%
Joint 4 Friend 3%
4 Driving instructor 2%

When it comes to teaching Brits how to perform basic car maintenance tasks, such as changing a tyre, or swapping out your windscreen wipers, dads took centre stage as the car experts of the UK.  

It was found that Brits were more likely to have learned how to conduct essential car maintenance tasks from their dad (17%) when compared to their husbands and boyfriends (12%). Checking the engine oil level (22%), tyre pressure (21%) and filling a vehicle with petrol (20%) were the top car maintenance tasks dads shared their expertise on most.  

Surprisingly, a staggering 42% of Brits said they have not been taught about car maintenance from anyone, making it no surprise that three in four drivers (76%) say they are unable to perform basic car maintenance tasks. As for the tasks drivers are least comfortable with, changing vehicle's headlights and brake lights ranked first, as nearly half of drivers in the UK admitted to not knowing how to do it.

63% of Brits say they are not looking to learn more about car maintenance

Despite almost three in four (72%) Brits having faced a car maintenance tasks they were unable to do on their own a staggering 63% of Brits said they aren’t looking to learn how to perform the task and fix the issue.  

Though many Brits chose to phone a family member (44%) to assist with their basic car maintenance issues, almost one in three (32%) drivers were happy to rely solely on their mechanic, while one in four (25%) hands-on drivers said they have learnt to fix a previous car maintenance issue they were faced with. A further 16% of drivers mentioned although they had not previously educated themselves about car maintenance, they would be willing to learn more in the future.'

To learn more about essential car maintenance tasks see this step-by-step guide on how to change a tyre.

Sources and methodology

The survey data collected in this study was based on a survey of 2,026 UK drivers, which took place in May 2022.