Second family car risk

Test results earlier this month support recent research demonstrating one-in-five two-car families are driving poorly maintained and potentially dangerous second cars.

Four second-car drivers recently volunteered to have their vehicle tested by Green Flag for an Auto Express 'inside story' report. Although the volunteers believed their cars to be roadworthy, all four cars were suffering from neglect, some with potentially dangerous faults.

Green Flag spokesperson Melanie Denny said, "The results of the tests confirm our recent research findings, which demonstrated a worrying lack of concern for basic maintenance of families' second cars, despite the fact that these are the cars being used regularly to carry loved ones on school runs and short journeys."

The research conducted by Green Flag in October showed one-in-five drivers with a second car gave no thought to second car maintenance. And while two-thirds said they spent some time looking after the second car, only one-in-six devoted significant time to caring for the family workhorse.

Motorists were reluctant to invest any money in their run-around, with seventy per cent spending between 100 and 500 per year on maintenance and over a third risking driving with no breakdown cover. Most second cars did however receive a regular annual service.

Melanie added: "Short journeys and in-town driving puts more strain on a vehicle, so regular maintenance checks are important to ensure reliability. A regular annual service alone really isn't enough to ensure the car stays safe."

To ensure the family's second car is in peak condition and address any potential problems that could cause a breakdown or accident, Green Flag also recommends a few simple checks that motorists can carry out themselves to ensure they stay on the move this winter.

Faulty batteries are the number one cause of breakdowns, so have it checked. Many garages offer checks free of charge
Check the car's wiper blades are in good condition with no tears or cracks
Make sure the screenwash, oil and water are at the recommended levels
Check the anti-freeze content in the washer reservoir and cooling system is appropriate for the colder weather ahead
Ensure tyres are in good condition, with no bumps or cracks in them. The minimum legal tyre tread is 1.6mm. Make sure the tyre pressure is correct too. Your car's manual will tell you what it should be. Many cars also have the tyre pressure details printed inside the driver's side door frame.
Ensure the second car's breakdown cover is up to date and provides adequate cover for your requirements
Ensure all the lights are all working and keep them clean for good visibility
Keep a fully charged mobile phone with you in the car with the number of your breakdown organisation saved in it. And make sure you use it occasionally to maintain the service supplier's connection liability.