Cash-strapped British motorists are plundering loose change from their cars to the tune of an estimated £27million, as fears over the economy take hold.
A new report by Halfords shows there has been a 16 per cent drop in the amount of petty cash kept in the country’s 34 million registered vehicles over the past 12 months.
Motorists feeling the pinch are raiding the stash of coins left in the ashtray and door side pockets, which they used to save to pay for parking and the occasional snack or drink.
The study, which Halfords has dubbed the “loose change economic index”, has revealed that today motorists knowingly keep on average £4.60 in their car, a significant drop from a year ago when £5.40 was the average amount stored in vehicles.
Across the UK, that translates from an estimated £183 million kept in cars 12 months ago, down to £156.4 million worth of small change in vehicles today.
The survey of over 2000 drivers asked them to keep a record of spare cash left in vehicles over a 12-month period. Over three quarters of those polled said they deliberately left spare change in the car or van to pay for parking in towns or at railway stations.
Just over a quarter (26 per cent) said they used the cash to buy the occasional drink or snack when filling up with petrol or at a motorway service station, although half of motorists said they were buying fewer treats than a year ago.
One in 12 (8 per cent) said they kept a £10 note hidden in the car in case they ran out of petrol, down from 10 per cent who kept the same emergency cash a year earlier and 82 per cent said they now regularly check their car for dropped and lost coins.
The downturn of 16 per cent in the amount of money left in cars over the past 12 months reflects a decline in disposable income and is three times the annual inflation rate, which latest figures showed running at 5.2 per cent. During that time petrol has gone up from an average 117.7p a litre to 134.5p a litre.
Halfords Motoring Expert, Mark Dolphin, said: “We know that times are tough for motorists and we’re trying to help ease the burden by offering affordable, value for money products and services. This includes our popular We Fit service, which fits bulbs, wiper blades and car batteries whilst you wait, and our garage network, Halfords Autocentres, which carries out dealership-quality work at value prices.
“Keeping your car well-maintained is the best way to ensure cost effective motoring.”