Despite regular warnings from the fleet industry, drivers are repeatedly failing to check oil levels in their cars, new research has revealed.
Spot checks carried out by Kwik-Fit Fleet and supported by Drive & Survive and Pirelli have revealed that 25% of cars checked needed at least a litre of oil, with one vehicle having no trace of oil on the dipstick.
Running out of oil can destroy a modern engine and replacing a power unit could cost a fleet £7,000, plus the cost of providing a replacement vehicle while the repair is being carried out.
The results are especially concerning as the checks were carried out on fleet managers' car at a duty of care seminar held at Drive & Survive's Training Centre.
Technicians from Kwik-Fit Hometune carried out checks on 45 vehicles, which had all clocked up less than 13,000 miles, including one with just 120 miles on the clock. If the snapshot were replicated across the entire three million company car parc, it would suggest 750,000 vehicles could be at risk of blowing an engine through lack of oil.
Mike Wise, Kwik-Fit sales director, said: 'Our safety inspections show fleet decision-makers are not checking their oil often enough. It is therefore likely they are not encouraging their fleet drivers to carry out regular maintenance checks on their company cars and vans.
'Vehicle maintenance is a crucial part of fleet safety. The very fact that these people were attending fleet safety seminars shows that they understand the importance of corporate fleet safety and risk management.'
Last year, the Inland Revenue appointed Kwik-Fit Fleet to undertake fortnightly safety inspections at its offices nationwide for its 900-vehicle pool car fleet. It also carries out interim safety inspections on the fleet in between normal manufacturer service intervals and it is making the service available to company car drivers on the revenue's 2,100-strong fleet.
Wise added: 'The Revenue's decision is reflective of a pro-active and caring employer and is to be applauded. I hope other fleets follow suit.'