Motorists are wasting thousands of pounds on expensive in-car technology that they don’t know how to use because they don’t understand what the dashboard symbols mean.

Popular models such as the Ford Focus are available with features including head-up displays and semi-autonomous driving modes, but many owners aren’t aware how to utilise them.

A survey conducted by asked more than 1,000 motorists to identify six common dashboard symbols and found that many struggled with even the most basic ones.

Based on the cost of these features, whether they are built-in as standard or optional extras, it is estimated that the average UK driver has wasted more than £1,300.

The symbol for a speed limiter, which is usually priced at around £250, was misidentified by 547 or 44 per cent of the people surveyed, while 147 thought it was a “speed limit warning” and 55 believed it was for resetting the trip computer.

Most motorists were able to identify the symbol for a head-up display, which would normally cost about £400, but almost a quarter thought it was a “digital owners manual”, while 137 thought it signified “icy conditions” and 55 read it as an instruction to “head to the nearest filling station”.

Although it’s a very common feature in modern cars, the majority of those surveyed couldn’t identify the symbol for a stop-start system, with 33 per cent thinking it was for “air recirculation” and 274 or 23 per cent attributed it to “automatic mode”.

Parking assistance, a circa £200 feature, was correctly identified by 92 per cent of those surveyed, while 90 per cent knew the symbol for a heated steering wheel.

Austin Collins, Managing Director of, said: “Although we can laugh at some of the mistakes drivers make in the struggle to keep pace with in-car technology, it’s unfortunate that so many people are clearly missing out on some of the features and benefits of their cars.

“One clue to why this might be comes from another part of our survey, which revealed that only half of us bother to look through the manual before starting to use our new cars. The most typical approach is to look up individual sections only when suspected problems arise.

“Our advice is to always read the manual. Cars are evolving all the time and not only is it important to understand a car to drive it safely, it makes no sense to miss out on some of the benefits for which you have paid.”