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Research reveals shock rise in dangerous fleet vehicles

Date: 14 June 2011   |   Author:

The number of company car and grey fleet vehicles exhibiting dangerous and serious faults has rocketed, according to new research from the RAC.

Defective tyres and lights are the biggest problem, with 36% of the 687 vehicles checked by RAC in the first quarter of 2011 failing for rubber-related problems, and 20% having faulty lights. That's up dramatically from 15% and 5% respectively last year, and leaves fleets in severe danger of prosecution if the defects lead to an accident while employees are driving on work business.

"Tyres would fail our checks on under-inflation, but the general rule of thumb is that tyre depths is the big problem," RAC corporate partnership manager Alan Kennedy told BusinessCar. He also said RAC fails cars with a tread depth of 2mm rather than the absolute legal limit of 1.6mm to give drivers time to rectify problems before the issue of illegality arises. Tail and rear brake lights are the two major areas that caused one in five cars to fail the checks for faulty lights, compared with just one in 20 in 2010.

There are a range of factors behind the hike in cars failing checks. Anecdotally, Kennedy put much of the problem down to the average age of cars rising as fleets extend contracts to four years, while RAC senior partnership manager Ron Richards said the current economic climate and a lack of communication in firms could also be to blame.

"It amazes me that of the thousands of fleet vehicles under the responsibility of particular individuals, those people are not checking their own vehicle regularly and are rendering them illegal on the road," said Richards. "It's true that vehicles are more reliable than they have ever been, but this has had the unfortunate side-effect of people being less attentive to maintenance duties."

Other frequent though less serious problems discovered by RAC included almost half of vehicles not having a complete service history and more than a third having low fluid levels, which though not illegal is a sign of poor maintenance and can lead to mechanical failures in the future.

RAC inspection failure rates
Vehicle service history48%
Fluid levels37%
Tyre maintenance36%
Faulty lights20%
External damage10%
Abnormal noises3%

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