Student driver

Student driver

As over 550,000 students prepare to take up their places at university in October, nationwide independent garage scheme Trust My Garage is advising them to take extra care of their vehicles, especially as this could become an invaluable resource as they enter academic life far from their home towns.

Thousands of university students will rely on their cars every day to travel to and from their university campuses, to drive back to their hometowns to visit family, and for driving socially when exploring the region. But how many students know how to keep their vehicles safe for the road and how to budget for important servicing and maintenance costs?

Recent AA figures show that 26% per cent of road accidents include at least one young car driver aged 17 to 24, and recent research released by Trust My Garage shows that 84% of motorists do not carry out basic car maintenance checks when they should, which increases the risk of having an accident. It is also widely known that car insurance is much more expensive for drivers aged under 25 years, with Money Supermarket quoting £1,211 as the national average for young drivers.

The key to keeping your vehicle in check for a year of university, according to Trust My Garage, is through regular servicing and good budgeting. The countrywide independent garage scheme shares its top five tips for students below:

1.      Go independent to benefit from value for money – Official research from the Independent Garage Association found that independent garages are on average £40 per cheaper an hour than main dealers. Find a Trust My Garage member you can get to know and stick with it throughout your university life. Ask second and third year students for their recommendations on independent garages.


2.      Remember the acronym POWER; petrol, oil, water, electrics and rubber. These are parts of your car you can check yourself. By checking these components regularly and making sure there are no issues with your vehicle, you can minimise the risk of a breakdown and prolong the road-life of your vehicle.


3.      Pay attention when driving – the best way to stay safe on the road, and avoid potential damage to your car, is to keep distractions to a minimum when driving. Always keep within the speed limit and make sure you don’t overload your car – with passengers or your personal belongings.  You may be tempted to cram everything into your car and on the back seat when moving between your home town and university, but make sure you don’t compromise your own personal safety, and always make sure you don’t obstruct your vision for driving with bulky items.


4.      Join a reputable breakdown company.  Many breakdown companies offer very competitive rates and can be an invaluable lifeline if you do experience an unexpected breakdown. Make sure you ask them to tow your vehicle to a trusted independent garage.


5.      Budget for car maintenance. Save money regularly for servicing and maintenance, and don’t put off a service to try and save money. It might seem like a money saving idea at the time, but putting off a service can exacerbate small problems on your vehicle that can suddenly turn into bigger ones and lead to more costly repairs.


Terry Gibson from Trust My Garage explains: “These days, universities are very expensive. You’ve already had to pay out large tuition fees, accommodation fees and money for essential start-of-term items.  The last thing you want is to be paying out large sums of money to get your car back on the road following a breakdown. By following our top tips you can make sure that your car remains a reliable lifeline for university life and not another drain on your finances.”


Videos showing what to do in the event of a breakdown and how to carry out maintenance checks using the acronym POWER are available to use from


Tim Barnes-Clay

Freelance Motoring Journalist


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