Survey: 40% Of U.S. Drivers Putting Off Vehicle Repair & Maintenance

When you’re driving around in a vehicle that needs repairs, there’s a possibility that you’re putting yourself and others at risk. But with many people still strapped for cash, car troubles often take a back seat to pinching pennies, according to the results of a new survey by our polling pals at Consumer Reports.

According to the CR survey of U.S. drivers who have responsibility for vehicle repair decisions, 40% of respondents are currently postponing car maintenance or repairs on their primary vehicle.

And of those people who are delaying taking their car to get fixed, 44% also admitted that they felt the value, safety, or reliability of the vehicle would suffer, with some saying the car was becoming an embarrassment.

Lower-income households were more likely to delay necessary work. And when it comes to delaying work on car parts that regularly need maintenance because of wear and tear — like brake pads or tires — drivers aged 18 to 34 years, were significantly more likely to procrastinate, with 21% of that group admitting to putting off such repairs, compared to only 14% of those aged 55 or over.

“They family car is the second largest purchase a consumer can make. It’s also often one of the most abused,” said Jeff Bartlett, deputy online automotive editor, Consumer Reports. “We expect our car to work even in the harshest conditions. So protecting that investment should be a priority, especially when it becomes a safety issue.”

The survey also found that many drivers are choosing to hold onto their cars for longer in order to put off the cost of buying a new (or at least new for them) vehicle. On average, owners have 78,000 miles on their current vehicle, meaning many are quickly approaching major maintenance milestones that shouldn’t be ignored.

Also of interest in the CR survey, 83% of respondents said they were confident their local repair shop would provide the right maintenance and repair work done for the right price. In addition, more than half said they completely trust their shop. According to the survey, independent repair shops were used more often (37%) than dealers (30%) or repair chains (11%).

Consumer Reports has launched the Car Repair Estimator, a repair information service powered by RepairPal, that can help drivers understand common problems, learn how components work, and receive a service estimate that reflect local prices. http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/repair/index.htm