NEW YORK— Six in 10 Gen Zers and millennials have a complicated relationship — with their cars. A recent survey of 1,000 Gen Z (adults typically born between 1997 and 2012) and 1,000 millennial (those born between 1981 and 1996) car owners or lessees reveals that 59 percent are not sure whether they want to continue driving or replace their current vehicle.
People stop driving their car and get a new one when the upkeep surpasses their budget (39%), there are too many strange sounds or smells (38%), too many parts have to be replaced (37%), or too much of it is being held together by tape (37%).
Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Kelley Blue Book Service Advisor, the survey also finds it takes an average of eight warning lights for people to schedule vehicle maintenance. Seventy-nine percent do their own research about what their vehicle needs before seeing the mechanic. Another 66 percent will look things up after their visit and return with a better sense of what their vehicle needs.
Drivers are feeling inflation
Although drivers seem proactive when it comes to their vehicle’s upkeep, they may not always be forward-thinking when buying a car. Six in 10 now regret buying a car before inflation began in 2021. The loss of purchasing power, along with rising gas prices, have led 42 percent to seek a better-paying job or side gig to help pay for vehicle upkeep. Another 40 percent turn to DIY solutions for some of their vehicle maintenance.
“In this unpredictable economic landscape, it’s important to maximize your vehicle’s value. Not only will you extend its life and save money by not delaying upkeep, but you’ll also be more likely to sell it for a better price,” says a spokesperson for Kelley Blue Book Service Advisor in a statement. “Additionally, researching what kinds of repairs your next car may need before buying it can help save time and money in the future.”
To this point, women were more likely than men to do research ahead of their maintenance visit (88% vs. 72%) as well as after (73% vs. 59%). That may be why women were more likely to feel they have accurate information about the fair market price for repairs and maintenance (76% vs. 64%).
Time to visit the car dealership
Overall, though, six in 10 (62%) feel they owned their first vehicle for too long. Fifty-seven percent say maintaining it seemed cheaper than getting a new one, and 43 percent couldn’t find a newer version of the same model.
Some saw their first car as a learning opportunity, noting they now know to get a vehicle that does not use too much gas (32%), properly test drive one before buying (31%), do more research ahead of acquiring or maintaining it (31%), and not get a car based solely on aesthetics or popularity (31%).
However, 27 percent tend to disregard and continue driving with broken speakers or a radio, with 26 percent ignoring dull wipers, excessive emissions, low tire pressure light, oil change, or scratches on their vehicle’s body or windshield.
Nearly two-thirds (64%) say they’re OK with their car not being up to par as long as it passes a state-licensed safety test. On average, it takes five breakdowns for Gen Zers and millennials to buy a new car. Sixty-nine percent are currently considering getting a new vehicle, but 23 percent of those respondents are not looking forward to it.
What would be the most difficult part of purchasing a new vehicle? Half the poll (50%) say they’re used to driving or maintaining their current car, 48 percent dread the amount of paperwork involved, and 46 percent can’t find one they like for their budget.
“Having a one-stop resource to make sure you’re getting a fair price for vehicle maintenance and being able to anticipate repairs based on what vehicles like yours have gotten done, along with a supportive online community, can help you make better choices for your current and future vehicles,” the spokesperson adds.