A new study for Kwik Fit has found that 13 million motorists (36%) have been alerted by at least one dashboard light in the last year.
However, a third of those (31% or four million) didn’t investigate the cause of the light for at least five days. The research showed that of those, 1.2 million continue to be afflicted by ‘dashboard denial’ – drivers who still haven’t been to a garage to get the fault looked into and are risking a breakdown, blowout or worse.
Of the 13 million drivers seeing a warning light in the last year, just 29% (3.7 million) got it checked out immediately. The remaining 5.1 million motorists (39% of those who have had a light come on) took between one and four days to look into the underlying problem with their car.
The warning light that affects more motorists than any other is the ‘engine system warning light’ as 3.6 million (10%) have seen it come on, whilst the ‘oil pressure warning light’ is the second most frequent offender, affecting 2.5 million (7%) of motorists.
The Kwik Fit survey reveals that 400,000 have had a warning light illuminate their dashboard that they couldn’t identify, which could mean that for many ‘dashboard denial’ is a result of ignorance.
An illuminated ‘tyre pressure warning light’ has been seen by one million (3%) motorists, but in reality this figure could be a lot higher because a 2011 Kwik Fit study found that the tyre pressure warning symbol was the most unrecognised light – less than half (49%) knew what it meant.
A Kwik Fit spokesman said: ‘If a warning light flashes up on your dashboard it’s important not to panic. As long as there are no visible or audible signs of a problem – and the car feels ok to drive – then it’s often ok to carry on driving calmly until the next available service centre.
‘It’s shocking, though, that millions of us are driving around for days – and sometimes months – with a warning light illuminated. These motorists could be risking serious engine damage at the very least, but if the issue is left to develop, and the car fails mid-drive, it could even end up causing an accident.
‘Although the engine warning light is the most commonly occurring, it’s potentially the most serious. We would urge any motorist who sees it flash up when they’re driving to have a diagnostics check run on their car at the very earliest opportunity.’