Ignoring a dashboard warning light could cost your business £500 a day

It’s a scene that is familiar to most people who drive a company vehicle, whether it’s a van or a pool car.

At some point, usually miles from home, a mysterious light will start flashing on the dashboard and you wonder just how far you can get before having to act on it.

According to new research by RAC Business*, most of us are actually pretty good at doing the right thing at first sign of a warning.

In fact 45% of drivers in businesses surveyed said they would stop and report it as soon as possible, or when they finish their journey.

However, there are a few of us who take a more relaxed attitude with a quarter, 25%, who say they would wait to see if it comes on again before reporting it.

And a hard core of 9%, that’s almost one in ten of those surveyed, admit to ignoring it completely, just hoping it will just go away.

But while it may be the stuff of humorous motor shows to find out what happens if you ignore the engine warning light, for businesses and fleet managers it represents a real problem in causing unnecessary vehicle downtime.

Our business research suggests faults caused by dashboard warning lights being ignored is third in the top five most common causes of unexpected breakdowns in fleet vehicles, for small to medium-sized businesses.

The top five, in order is:

  1. Tyre/Puncture
  2. Flat battery
  3. Ignored warning lights
  4. Electrical failure
  5. Road traffic collision


Unexpected vehicle downtime can have a huge impact on a small business fleet, not only in terms of the cost of the repair, but also in lost revenue for the time it’s off the road.

According to RAC Business research, a third of SMEs say it costs around £300 a day, with 11% claiming it’s more than £500 day.

RAC Business spokesman Simon Peevers, said:

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“Often the hardest working machines in a small business are the fleet vehicles that are at the mercy of multiple drivers. It’s all too easy to ignore that warning light which has been blinking for a few days and hope somebody else deals with it.

“However every business relies on its vehicles running smoothly and being able to plan when they are off the road for essential service, maintenance or repair.

“Unexpected vehicle downtime is really the enemy of an efficient business, so it’s important that all staff drivers are aware that they need to report faults as and when they happen.

“But as an extra safeguard, fleet managers could consider installing systems such as telematics which not only provides location data and driver behaviour, but can also identify faults as they happen.

“The diagnostic capability of the device installed into the vehicle means it can send instant alerts to the business owner or fleet manager when it spots a fault code. It can then be booked into workshop to be checked out, and hopefully save the business hundreds of pounds.”

*Research carried out by 3Gem Media, on commission from RAC Business, surveying 1,000 UK businesses during Q4 2017.