Average young adult finally takes car into shop — after 8th warning light

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%).

car ownership

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.

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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  1. When you raise a child with a feeling of entitlement, that creature becomes an adult totally clueless about real life. And real life is not about entitlement, and life does not care about our platitudes or feelings.
    Cars are not about privilege and require preventive maintenance. These dunces will just need reality to bite them in the ass to learn how things really are. It’s fun to watch!

  2. This is one of the main reasons why I started teaching my daughter about the different parts of a car and what to look for when it needs service. I personally have two cars and a 2002 Ford Pickup. All three are paid for. The pickup has over 360,000 miles on it and the original motor. Our cars and trucks will last us a long time if we pay attention when we get an indication of a problem. DO NOT just ignore it. It will not get better or go away. The last four cars that I had all had over 180,000 miles on all of them because I took care of them.

  3. Most new cars are so very ugly now with their huge front grills and edgy bodies. Placing side air bags in the rear doors has destroyed the nice looks of cars. SUV’s are so boring and boxy. Trucks are for those that have no class. So I understand the youth have no interest in cars these days.

  4. This, unfortunately, has become a recurring problem with the younger generations. They just don’t seem to grasp the seriousness of what the warning lights may mean. We, as the adults and more experienced drivers, need to take the time to teach these things to young people. First and foremost, teach them about the check engine light and how it functions. They may just need to adjust the gas cap! http://www.ShiffletAutoCare.com

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