Repair and go saves motorists dough

Article date: 29 October 2009

Motorists cutting back on breakdown cover and relying on DIY car maintenance run the risk of a hefty £195 bill in the event of a breakdown, according to latest estimates from RAC*. At a time when RAC Patrols are achieving record numbers of permanent roadside repairs - 7,500 more per month than 2008 - and helping motorists avoid further costly repair bills, it is still a financially pressured time for motorists. A recent survey** revealed:

  • 15% of motorists were looking to reduce their level of breakdown cover over the next twelve months
  • 12% were considering cancelling their cover altogether
  • A further 23% of motorists claimed they would begin attempting their own DIY repairs regardless of their level of mechanical expertise.

Many financially hard-hit motorists have taken vehicle maintenance and repairs into their own hands. RAC Patrols have encountered motorists attempting everything from patching up their fuel tank to dangerous makeshift wiring in recent months as they look to cut costs on their car bills. Given the rise of these unsafe, unreliable repairs, cancelling breakdown cover could prove an expensive decision.

The average cost of towing a broken-down vehicle off the motorway is now at least £150 and the pain behind the wheel doesn’t end once the tow to the garage is complete. The average price of skilled labour is currently £90.61 per hour,* which is pushing up the cost of common repairs for motorists. With RAC’s improved roadside repair figures, motorists can look to avoid these costs with fully comprehensive breakdown cover from only £71.25 a year.

RAC patrol, Prakesh "Crackers" Patel says: “It’s a tough time for motorists but our commitment to carrying out permanent roadside repairs wherever possible means we can help our members avoid hefty garage bills. We’re driving down the need for repeat callouts, they’re down by 3,000 a month, and working more closely with local garages and parts suppliers. So far this year, we’ve attended and permanently repaired over 1.3 million RAC members saving them at least £120 each*** through repairing their vehicles at the side of the road.”  

RAC is committed to easing the pain of a roadside breakdown. Recent improvements include:

  • A new multi-fit spare wheel, which enables patrols to tow a vehicle, with a punctured or damaged wheel and no spare available, to a tyre repair centre rather than waiting for a recovery truck
  • Using more local garages to repair serious faults, helping to avoid the misery of long distance recoveries associated with breaking down
  • Updated equipment to ensure faults are found faster and on a greater range of vehicles
  • An improved system for sourcing parts so patrols can obtain and fit spare parts whenever and wherever they need them.

The DIY fixes that didn’t work
RAC patrols have encountered a range of attempted DIY repairs in recent months. In most cases, these efforts have ended up increasing motorists’ likelihood of breaking down and inflating their repair costs, as well as putting their safety at risk. Examples have included:

  • An RAC member who, having misfuelled, drilled a hole to drain their fuel tank and used an ordinary screw and washer to attempt to seal it.
  • A motorist, and builder by trade, whose front grill was held on by plastering tape.
  • Several motorists found running electric wiring without fuses off their car battery, to run their favourite in-car gadgets.
  • Motorists incorrectly (and illegally) mixing their wheel and tyre sizes.

For more details on breakdown cover and costs visit or call 0800 722822.


For more information please contact:
Dave Chambers, Hill & Knowlton
Telephone: 0207 413 3155

Lucy Haughey, RAC Press Office
Telephone: 01603 688 891
Mobile: 07800 690149

Vicki Burn, RAC Press Office
Telephone: 01603 684224
Mobile: 07800 692909

Notes to editors:

* Based on a standard £150 Highway Agency recovery fee off a motorway and average £45.08 for 30 minutes (£90.61 per hour) labour at a franchised dealership, according to Warranty Direct (23 September 2009).

** The 2009 RAC Report on Motoring surveyed 1,109 motorists on a range of topics in April 2009. The questionnaire took approximately twenty minutes to complete and was conducted by Quadrangle.

*** £120 saving calculated using an average breakdown cost of £195 (without cover) minus annual RAC membership, including recovery, of £71.25. This membership covers you as a driver or passenger in any vehicle.

A "roadside repair" is defined by RAC as an occasion when a member is able to drive away unaided from a breakdown. 

About RAC
With around seven million members, RAC is one of the UK's most progressive motoring organisations, providing services for both private and business motorists.  Whether it's roadside assistance, insurance, vehicle inspections and checks, legal services or up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information - RAC is able to meet motorists' needs.

RAC is committed to providing the very highest levels of service to its members and has been ranked first for customer service by J D Power and Associates' UK Roadside Assistance Study for the last three years and the top named service organisation in the July 2009 UK Customer Satisfaction Index from the Institute of Customer Service.

Aviva bought RAC in May 2005. The acquisition brings together RAC's powerful brand and customer base with the expertise and leading position in motor insurance of Aviva UK Insurance (formerly Norwich Union Insurance). Aviva is the UK's largest insurer with a market share of around 15%.

RAC is part of Aviva, the world's fifth largest insurance group which operates in 28 countries.

RAC's news releases and a selection of images are available from the internet press centre at

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