More than two in five cars have damage owners won't bother to fix

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More than 14million cars on British roads are being driven with some form of damage, a study by AA Insurance claims.

A poll of more than 14,500 vehicle owners discovered that 44 per cent have cars with some form of damage on them, ranging from minor scuffs, through to more serious damage to tyres and brakes.

The age profile of motorists showed the different approaches to fixing motor damage, with just two in five over 65s admitting to knowing their cars have blemishes while two thirds of hard-up 18-to-24-year-old motorists saying their vehicles are scarred.

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While the damage may not have been caused during their ownership, in their plight to secure an affordable motor, many youngsters buy older and dented cars, says AA’s motor insurance team.

Across the UK, Londoners the most likely to have damaged cars, with half (52 per cent) of those polled who live in the capital saying this is the case for them.  

Of the car owners that had damaged vehicles, eight out of 10 (83 per cent) said their car had minor scuffs and scrapes, while one in 10 had cracked or chipped windscreens or glass.

One in 20 said their car had more obvious bodywork damage, but shockingly 3 per cent admitted they continue to use their motors despite knowing they have worn or damaged tyres. 

Most common types of vehicle damage in the UK

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1. Minor damage (i.e. light scuffs and scratches) – 83%

2. Glass (inc. windscreens and side windows) – 11%

3. Dashboard warning light on – 7%

4. Obvious bodywork damage (i.e. dents, broken panels) – 5%

=5. Wipers – 3%

=5. Tyres (worn, bulges etc) – 3% 

=5. Wing mirrors (missing and damaged) – 3%

=8. Exterior light not working (i.e. headlights, brake, reversing) – 2%

=8. Brakes screeching – 2%

=10. Suspension (i.e. knocking noises when driving) – 1%

=10. Steering (i.e. vehicle pulls to one side) – 1%

12. Other – 3%

Source: AA Insurance poll of 14,759 UK drivers. Figures based on feedback only from those that said their car had at least one damaged item 

Other blemishes included; broken wipers, lights on the dashboard and missing wing mirrors. 

The AA warned that even the most minor damage may be hiding more than meets the eye.

For example, what may look like a small crack or dent in the bumper could be hiding significant damage to the bumper’s brackets, impact bar and absorber.

And for those with an easy-to-repair chipped windscreen, one significant thud from a pothole can turn the tiny blemish into an enormous crack requiring the entire glass panel to be replaced. 

PERCENTAGE OF CARS WITH DAMAGE BY REGION

1. London – 52%

2. South West – 48%

3. South East – 46%

4. Wales – 44%

5. Eastern – 43%

=6. Scotland – 42%

=6. North West – 42%

=8. Yorkshire & Humberside – 41%

=8. West Midlands – 41%

=8. East Midlands – 41%

11. North East – 39%

12. Northern Ireland – 36%

Source: AA Insurance poll of 14,759 UK driver

David Coughlan, managing director of AA Insurance Services, said: ‘Drivers with damaged cars are living on a “wing (mirror) and a prayer”, in the hope that the visible damage is not camouflaging something more costly and compromising.

‘Damage on cars can be like an iceberg – while on the surface things look manageable, it’s what’s lurking underneath that can really cause problems. 

‘Any detriment to the structural integrity of the car could harm its performance if it were involved in a major collision.

‘Keeping vehicles in a good condition is important both for the owners’ protection as well as others. 

‘We are very worried that drivers are using vehicles with poor tyres, brakes and steering.

‘We’d strongly recommend drivers get damage to their cars checked, to provide peace of mind and retain the safety of their vehicle.’

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