Lex Vehicle Leasing has uncovered an epidemic of engine damage among fleet operators because drivers do not understand how to look after their cars.
Modern fleet cars can go up to 30,000 miles without a visit to the garage, but simple checks, particularly for oil levels, must be carried out regularly.
This year alone, Lex Vehicle Leasing has received calls from about 60 customers affected by oil-induced engine failures, which the firm says can cost up to £7,000 a time to fix – a cost that has to be passed on to the fleet customers involved.
Vehicles as young as four months old are affected by the problem and Lex is warning fleet decision-makers that unless they start educating their drivers on basic vehicle checks, they could face regular bills.
Jamie Wiseman, manager of technical services, an integral part of Lex One Call, the company's one stop servicing and maintenance programme, said: 'Some manufacturer handbooks now recommend checking engine oil every time a driver fills up with fuel. But most drivers leave the book in the glovebox.
'When an engine fails due to its low oil level, providing there are no defects, we have to pass the hefty bill onto our customer, who is far from happy.
'Talking to other contract hire companies they are also experiencing these types of problems.'
Wiseman recently signed a cheque for £7,000 to replace an engine on a car that was just four months old and had only a few thousand miles on the clock, because of a failure to check the oil level.
Lex is calling for more car makers to fit engine oil level indicators to their cars. Many cars have oil pressure lights, which come on when the pressure is low, but that is often too late to avoid engine damage.
Wiseman said: 'A component must only cost a few pence for car makers to fit to a car, but could end up saving an average fleet customer money and prevent the bad feeling caused when we pass on a bill to them for a few thousand pounds.'