More than 14 million motorists drive damaged cars

  • On average, motorists wait almost a month and a half before fixing their car
  • 29 per cent delay getting their car fixed because they cannot live without it
  • Most common type of damage is damage to bodywork

Over 14 million motorists have driven damaged or un-roadworthy cars on UK roads in the past two years, according to new research by Direct Line Car Insurance.1 On average drivers wait almost a month and a half (43 days) before getting their car fixed and as a result risk long term damage.

The research also highlighted the extent to which cars play an integral role in motorists’ lives.  More than a quarter (29 per cent) of those who have driven a damaged car, delayed getting it fixed because they rely on it to take their children to school or get to work.

Damage to body work is the most common type of problem (44 per cent), followed by cracked or chipped windscreens (27 per cent). A further 18 per cent admit to driving with faulty lights and one in 10 (11 per cent) admit to driving with bald tires, despite the fact that these defects can result in motorists being issued with fixed penalty notices, not to mention the safety implications.

Even if the damage appears minor, drivers should be aware that they can be penalised by police for vehicle defects. If caught driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition, motorists can receive a penalty of up to £2,500 and up to three points in each case. If the motorist is caught within three years of a conviction for a similar offence, they will be banned from driving.2

Table one: Vehicle damage and defects:

Type of Damage
How common the damage is
Damage to body work 44%
Cracked or chipped windscreen 27%
Broken wing mirrors 19%
Faulty lights 18%
Faulty windscreen wipers 15%
Dashboard warning lights on 13%
Bald tyres 11%
Battery in poor condition 9%
Faulty steering or suspension 9%
Damaged brakes / grinding brakes 6%

Source: Direct Line Car Insurance, 2016

Gus Park, director of motor at Direct Line said: “Drivers are so reliant on their cars that they are even driving them when damaged, risking a hefty fine and potentially putting their lives in danger.”

“Driving damaged vehicles not only puts the driver at risk but also other road users, so we urge motorists to get their cars fixed as soon as possible. Leaving bald tyres can dramatically increase the risk of a crash and as we become firmly in the grips of winter the risk level increases as the weather worsens.”

Whether it be getting to work or taking children to school, a car is such an integral part of our daily life that cutting corners on maintenance or repairs just doesn’t make sense from either a safety or a financial perspective.

Notes to editors

1 Research carried out by Opinium Research online amongst a nationally representative sample of 2005 UK adults between 15th and 18th September 2015. The results have been extrapolated based on the total number of UK adults. Calculations were derived via dividing the count size by the base, which was then multiplied by the total number of UK adults. For example, those that drove with a damaged car: (573/2005)*50909000 = 14,549,056.2

2 Penalties listed on the government website

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and U K Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0345 246 3761 or visiting

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