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Mike Waters' blog: 16 August 2011 - Get to know your vehicle

Date: 16 August 2011

Mike Waters is head of market analysis at Arval

Modern cars are packed full of technology designed to make driving more comfortable, more efficient and safer but what this also means is that modern cars are far more complex than the vehicles of years ago.

So while these gadgets, gizmos and driver aids are all very useful, they can also be a bit mind boggling, and one part of the car that seems to provide drivers with a problem is the dashboard.

Full of warning signs, lights, symbols and useful information the modern dashboard has been designed to provide the driver with all of the information that they could need at a glance. However, research from insurance company Quinn-direct found that many drivers just don't understand what their car is telling them or how to deal with it.

50% of men and 76% of women don't know what a single light on the dashboard indicates which includes vital information on vehicle issues, maintenance requirements and action required by the driver. For example 20% of motorists do not recognise the brake system alert light or the engine warning light while 10% say that they do not know which light shows that the car is overheating.

Plus it's not just the warning mechanisms on the dashboard that stump many drivers. When it comes to car maintenance, 13 million admit they would not be able to carry out basic vehicle checks with one in five motorists not knowing how to check tyre pressures or oil.

Ensuring that your car is properly maintained is really important because it affects running costs, vehicle efficiency, driver safety and stops small maintenance issues from becoming big ones. With this in mind, drivers can't afford not to have a basic understand of their vehicle.

For any driver, irrespective of their mileage, it is worth taking some time to understand what the various settings, lights and maintenance procedures mean. Don't be one of the 22% of motorists who don't keep their vehicle handbook in the car and refer to it to ensure that you have an understanding of what the car is telling you and what you need to do with that information.

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