Hidden Risks of Dirty Cars

Kid’s car seats have twice as many germs than the average toilet, a study has revealed by Continental Tyres. Researchers found that while on average 50 germs lurk on each square centimetre of a toilet seat, more than 100 potentially dangerous bacteria and fungi are present on the same size area of the average child safety seat. These bugs include bacteria that can lead to health risks, such as E. coli, Salmonella and Bacillus Licheniformis   – a microbe invisible to the naked eye that can cause food poisoning.

The survey of 2,000 motorists for Continental Tyres was supported by scientists at the University of Birmingham who took swabs from a number of cars and homes to compare. The researchers found that our cars contain more potentially hazardous bacterial and fungal species than anywhere in our homes. The study also revealed that almost half of us regularly drive in vehicles full of clutter with one in ten people having had an accident or near miss due to the mess in their car.


Mark Griffiths, safety expert at Continental Tyres said: “Many people are driving around in vehicles which resemble a rubbish tip without realising the hazards.

To stay safe whilst driving and avoid health risks drivers should regularly clean their cars inside and out. Clutter as well as germs can present a problem – for example a can or bottle rolling under a brake pedal would be very serious.”

The research found that 60 per cent of motorists are totally unaware of the health risks a dirty car poses to them and their passengers. Around 1 in 5 motorists tidy the inside of their car just once a year, typically prompted by an imminent visit to the garage. Our car footwell was the filthiest area, with several thousand bacteria for every square centimetre. Old take-away boxes, CD cases, used tissues, maps and broken torches make up the bulk of the junk strewn around our vehicles.

Dr Anne-Marie Krachler, from the Institute of Microbiology and Infection at the University of Birmingham said: “Cars can play host to a number of potentially harmful bacterial species. These germs can easily spread in cars that are not cleaned often, especially if you eat in the vehicle or leave litter and food.”

Mark Griffiths of Continental said: “Most people wouldn’t dream of using their home as a dumping ground for rubbish as they do with their car – clearly few people realise that germs are more likely to fester there than on a toilet seat.”

However, many people do take a dim view of people with dirty cluttered cars, with 40 per cent of referring to them as ‘slobs’ or ‘lazy’.

It’s also bad news for singletons with a messy car as 37 per cent say they would be put off someone they had just started dating if their vehicle was full of clutter.

Top ten items of clutter we keep in our car:

  • Ice-scraper
  • Box of tissues
  • Torch (including broken)
  • A to Z map
  • Old blanket
  • Toolkit
  • Chamois leather
  • Chocolate bar wrappers
  • Out of date map
  • Old phone charger

So, for many reasons it’s very important to keep your car clean and the most important of those is your safety on the road. Always remember to stay safe on the road and to pay attention while driving, even if your car is a little messy. It’s also important to remember to keep your car in a safe condition by getting your car serviced and your tyres checked regularly. You can find more information about car tyres and servicing online at Advance Pitstop.

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