Yonkers, New York – Cash-strapped drivers are postponing car maintenance or repairs at the potential cost of their safety, according to a new poll by Consumer Reports, which found that 40 per cent of respondents are putting off work on their primary vehicles.
This delay in servicing such items as brakes, tires, light bulbs or internal mechanical parts has consumers running the risk of larger and more costly problems down the road.
Of those who deferred work in the past year, 44 per cent also admitted that they felt the value, safety or reliability of the vehicle would suffer, with some saying the car was becoming “an embarrassment.” Those in lower-income households were more likely to delay necessary work, while drivers aged 18 to 34 years were more likely to delay work on wear items such as brake pads or tires. Of this age group, 21 per cent admitted to not attending to a wear item in a timely fashion, compared to 14 per cent of those aged 55 and over.
Compounding the issue is the fact that drivers are holding onto their vehicles longer due to the poor economy. Many respondents bought their cars used, have owned them for five years, and intend to keep them for another five years. On average, owners have 78,000 miles (125,528 km) on their current vehicles, meaning that many are quickly approaching major maintenance milestones that shouldn’t be ignored.
The types of non-warranty work most commonly postponed were minor manufacturer-recommended scheduled service (22 per cent), wear items (17 per cent) and body or other exterior damage (15 per cent). Respondents said that a major repair bill of an average $2,000 would become a serious financial version.
Contrary to popular belief, car owners put a lot of faith in their chosen repair shops, with 83 per cent of those involved in repair decisions saying they were confident they would get the right maintenance and repair work done for the right price. More than half said they “completely” trusted their shop. Independent repair shops were the most likely choice, at 37 per cent, followed by dealers at 30 per cent, and repair chains at 11 per cent.
Motorists are primarily driven to replace an existing vehicle because of poor reliability (82 per cent), safety concerns (67 per cent) or repair costs (47 per cent). Other factors included a vehicle that no longer meets their needs (41 per cent), poor fuel economy (35 per cent), the vehicle is uncomfortable (27 per cent), it has outdated technology (10 per cent) and the driver is bored with the styling (6 per cent).