Column: Bonnet? Which bonnet? My sun bonnet?

Research has found that less than two-fifths of British holidaymakers (39 per cent) regularly conduct maintenance on their car.
Research has found that less than two-fifths of British holidaymakers (39 per cent) regularly conduct maintenance on their car.

Many millions of Britons will be pushing ahead with a Brexit of their very own this summer, albeit in a way that somewhat reverses the meaning of the now familiar term.

We’re talking of course about all the Brits who it’s estimated will exit the UK in July and August for holidays abroad.

And a sizeable proportion of those engaged in the annual return-ticket migration to foreign parts- reckoned to be in the region of two million – will be taking their own cars with them on vacation, or will collect hire vehicles on arrival at their destination.

However, according to a recent survey, the only bonnets many of these drivers will be concerned about checking under as they head off on journeys that could involve many hundred of miles of travel, are their sun bonnets, which, perched on the rear window ledge, may of course be crucially hiding their sunglasses or a bottle of Ambre Solaire.

In short, it seems that many motorists are just not carrying out the vital yet simple checks to their cars which if done, might prevent them from, once they are en route to the sun, taking an unexpected detour along the highway to automotive Hell.

For instance, the research by Enterprise Rent-A-Car (1000 motorists were interviewed), found a quarter of drivers, before departure, will not check tyre tread depth (26 per cent); a fifth will not check tyre pressure (19 per cent); more than half will not check brake pads (54 per cent); nearly a third (30 per cent) will not check headlights; and a quarter (24 per cent) will not check screen wash levels.

It was also revealed that basic safety equipment was also lacking in a staggering number of private cars - nearly half (47 per cent) do not have a torch, 32 per cent do not have a jack, 38 per cent do not have a wrench to remove a flat tyre, and 36 per cent do not have a roadworthy spare tyre in the boot. Many also do not have a hi-visibility jacket (57 per cent) or a warning triangle (47 per cent), which are legal requirements in several European countries.

In fact, the research found that less than two-fifths of British holidaymakers (39 per cent) regularly conduct maintenance on their car. Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) admit they have never even opened a car bonnet, while 49 per cent have never changed a tyre.

Not unreasonably, among those who said they do not conduct any regular vehicle maintenance, the main reasons are that modern vehicles are increasingly reliable and have sophisticated on-board technology. Increasingly, motorists rely on their vehicle to tell them if something needs checking (36 per cent and on the annual MOT (36 per cent). Almost one in five (19 per cent) ‘expect modern cars to work all the time’.

One especially alarming revelation thrown up by the survey was that half of those picking up hire cars would set off without knowing where all the controls were.

The research found that a third (34 per cent) do not check how to operate hire car lights; 36 per cent say they never check where the indicators are; while nearly half do not check they know how to operate the windscreen wipers or the gears (45 per cent for both).

Meanwhile for a sizeable number of Brits at the helm of hire vehicles, every road abroad would seem to be, infuriatingly, one-way only - 19 per cent say they have previously been unable to get a car int less serious note, for many, the renting of a car abroad has ended up being an absolute audio nightmare - 16 per cent have listened to music they didn’t like at all because they couldn’t work the radio.

And on that note ...