Recession hit drivers opt to holiday in the UK - if their cars make it

21 March 2009

More than half of UK drivers are less likely to go abroad for their holidays this year due to the impact of the recession, according to an AA / Populus survey of 11,147 AA members. However, with more than one in ten drivers thinking about not getting their cars serviced this year, some of those choosing UK holidays could come to grief along the way, warns the AA.

Of the 56% of AA/Populus panellists who said they were likely to give foreign holidays a miss this year, middle aged motorists (aged between 35 and 54) were the most likely to say that they were unlikely to take a holiday abroad (58%). However, if they choose to holiday in the UK, they could well find themselves rubbing shoulders with the locals as three in five panellists from the South West, Wales and the West Midlands said they are less likely to go abroad.

The big question is whether their cars will survive long trips as the bad habit of cutting back on maintenance in hard times is once again emerging. Some 12% of drivers said they are likely to cut back on servicing this year, women more than men (14% v 11%).

Among lower-income drivers (socio-economic groups D and E), cutting back on servicing almost doubles to 20%. Wales, the North West and Northern Ireland (15-16%) are the areas most likely to have un-serviced cars, and the South at 14% is above the national average.

The AA expects to see more call-outs for

  • Worn brake pads
  • Drive belts for the alternator and power steering are likely to break if not changed at recommended point
  • Damaged engines due to cambelts breaking
  • Warning lights e.g. low fluid levels, overdue service indictors
  • Long term damage to engine caused by deterioration in oil quality

The AA is hearing from breakdown cover patrols that people are extending service intervals from say 10/12,000 to 14/16,000 miles. AA advice is that people shouldn't cut back on major services, especially oil changes and timing belts. A timing belt may cost £150 to repair but a new engine as a result of neglect could cost £3000. AA Insurance warns that cars that are not road worthy may not be fully covered by their insurance policies in the event of an accident.

Perhaps the most worrying sign of recession-hit motoring is that fact that more than half of motorists (54%) say they are less likely to buy a new car. The AA is concerned that older cars, less well serviced will lead to more breakdown cover call outs and more expensive repairs.


Edmund King, the AA's president said: "The recession is hitting motorists hard. If taxes rise, fuel prices soar and the country goes into recession, drivers have to cut back. We are already finding that motorists are cutting back on servicing which often becomes a false economy when things go wrong. We are pushing Government to introduce car scrappage incentives as more than half of motorists are less likely to buy new cars this year.

"The only good news is the boost to UK tourism with more drivers intending to holiday in the UK."

Margaret Frost, AA Landlady of the Year1, said, "It is great that more people will be holidaying in Great Britain this year. There are so many wonderful places to explore and some great places to stay all over the country."


1Margaret Frost is Landlady of Diggins Farm, Chipping Ongar , Essex. Details of Diggins Farm can be found in the AA Bed and Breakfast Guide along with a wide selection of other Bed and Breakfast venues.

AA Populus survey of 11,147 drivers conducted in Jan/Feb 2009

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21 March 2009