A failure to do regular safety checks could lead to a breakdown or extensive and expensive damage to your car.
A failure to do regular safety checks could lead to a breakdown or extensive and expensive damage to your car.

Three skills young NSW drivers don’t know

Millennials are putting their lives at risk on our roads in alarming numbers.

New research from Driver Safety Australia has found young drivers know very little about maintaining the cars they drive.

Many don't know how to check a car's oil and coolant, replace windscreen wipers or check tyre pressures.

In NSW more than half of drivers under the age of 25 had no idea what they would do if their car broke down and 92 per cent admitted they never carry out safety checks that could prevent a breakdown. One third admitted they didn't even know how to perform the checks.

 

AFLW player Orla O'Dwyer says the training is worthwhile.
AFLW player Orla O'Dwyer says the training is worthwhile.

 

More than half the drivers surveyed continued to use their vehicle with a known safety issue and even more said they would keep driving their car if it was making unusual noises.

The numbers are alarming, as young drivers are more likely to have cars older than 10 years, further increasing the risk of breakdowns.

Most young drivers don’t know how to perform simple safety checks.
Most young drivers don’t know how to perform simple safety checks.

The research showed young drivers were three times more likely to spend $50 on dinner with friends or twice as likely to buy clothes than replace a brake or headlight.

Russell White, head of Driver Safety Australia, said young drivers were ill-equipped to deal with situations where something went wrong with their car.

"The sheer startled factor of the car doing something it doesn't usually do is a worrying situation. People can panic and put themselves in a really bad situation," said Mr White.

He said that even though some of the regular safety checks seemed trivial they could have huge consequences if not routinely carried out.

"It can be anything from a minor inconvenience to something major where you end up paying the ultimate price. When we look at road safety when something goes wrong it can go wrong in a very big way," he said.

Many younger motorists drive cars that are older than 10 years.
Many younger motorists drive cars that are older than 10 years.

"The big thing is making sure the vehicle is roadworthy.

"Make sure the tyres are right, lubricant is full and all those under bonnet consumables such as oil are right. Anyone can check them. It can be done while you are washing the car."

Aside from the safety issues, neglecting basic maintenance can cost owners thousands of dollars.

Mark Short, a former service manager for a major Holden dealership, said skipping maintenance could hit your wallet big time.

Driving your car while it's low on oil can lead to excessive engine wear, while being low on coolant can cook the engine. Ultimately, both problems could lead to a blown engine.

If this happens you are looking at a massive repair bill that could be anywhere from $5000 to $10,000 depending on the severity of the damage.

For those with an inexpensive car, it can mean the end of the road, as the repairs aren't worth doing.

Many young drivers don’t know what to do if they break down.
Many young drivers don’t know what to do if they break down.

Some cars can use two to three litres of oil every 5000km, while some have been known to consume one litre per 1000km, which means you need to top up your oil in between regular services.

"When the warning light comes on it could already be too late and most people will keep driving after the light comes on. It is all about preventive maintenance," said Short.

Short also made the point that tyre pressure is one of the most important things to check on a car. He said because rubber is porous you'll naturally lose air over time and you should really be checking this monthly. Worn and flat tyres can lead to an accident which can cost you much more than money.

AFLW player Orla O'Dwyer says the free education has given her more confidence. Picture: AAP
AFLW player Orla O'Dwyer says the free education has given her more confidence. Picture: AAP

Driver Safety Australia has joined forces with Supercheap Auto to give free training on basic vehicle checks as part of a national "Check It" day campaign on March 28.

The aim of the free workshops is to better arm young drivers with the knowledge they need to properly maintain their vehicles and it will run at all Supercheap Auto stores nationwide.

Ireland born Orla O'Dwyer, who plays for the Brisbane Lions in the AFLW, said the training was worthwhile.

"I thought I knew how to do the checks but I didn't. But I can now check the tyres and what's under the bonnet," said O'Dwyer. "Everyone can do it, I think once you do it once you can kind of understand it. I'm a visual learner and the demonstration helped."

O'Dwyer said that the free education has given her the confidence to look for the clues as to when something might be about to go wrong with her car.

The "Check It" classes were particularly important for young people who didn't have a parent or knowledgeable friend to help them with their car.



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