Modern cars are becoming too big to park in garages, the RAC Foundation said as a new study showed that the average driver has just 30cm to spare when manoeuvring out.

The UK’s best-selling cars have become wider by about a third over the last 55 years, with manufacturers adding more tech and comfort features.

The RAC Foundation warned that the expanding size of cars needed to be reflected in planning rules or garages would be at risk of becoming "unfit for purpose" and being used solely for storage.

It found the most popular models have grown consistently wider and longer over the decades due to manufacturers making cars bigger to accommodate safety features such as airbags and also fit features such as electrically-warmed seats.

A comparison of the most popular models sold in 1965 and 2020 found they had expanded by 32 percent on average. Their width went from 59 inches (1.5 metres) to 71 inches, and length went from 153.5 inches to 169 inches.

The Ford Fiesta, the most popular model in 2020, had a width of 66 inches – eight inches wider than the most popular car sold in 1965, the Austin Morris 1100/1300.

Meanwhile, the average garage door width is just 82 inches, leaving drivers only six inches each side of the vehicle when driving out.

Growing car sizes causing havoc with garages

Steve Gooding, the director of the RAC Foundation, said: "Not only are cars getting bigger, there are also more of them. This is putting huge pressure on roadside space and explains why many of us feel the parking bays in car parks don’t seem quite big enough. 

"Crucially, domestic garages are also often unfit for their intended purpose – the planning system needs to recognise that garage design needs to catch up with vehicle design or throw in the towel and recognise that they are, in practice, garden sheds waiting to be converted to provide extra accommodation, which means thinking again about where the family car is going to be parked." 

The RAC also found that the amount of time cars spent parked had remained constant since 1995, with vehicles only spending between four and five percent of their life on the move.

Cars and vans spent most of the time parked at home, with private vehicles on average spending 73 percent of time at a residence, according to data from the National Travel Survey.

Analysis also found that 18 million – 65 percent – of Britain’s 27.6 million households have space to accommodate off-street parking. The RAC said this suggested the best way to get more drivers to switch to electric vehicles ahead of the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles was to install more chargers at people’s homes.

Ministers are currently focusing on increasing the numbers of public chargers, with Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, saying earlier this year that he aims to make charging an electric vehicle in public easier than filling up at a petrol station.

Mr Gooding added: "The average car is driven just one hour out of every 24, a proportion that is almost the same as it was back in 1995.

"However, this lack of use does have one silver lining. It means that there is ample opportunity for recharging the next generation of electric vehicles, particularly at home or at work, so making best use of our cars’ down time rather than us having to make a specific trip just to get refuelled.

"There is clearly a lot of attention focused on providing a rapid public charging network to help address drivers’ range anxiety, but this data shows there is plenty of scope for slower, potentially cheaper recharging facilities to be installed at people’s homes, where the average car spends so much of its time."