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Americans Admit to Ignoring “Check Engine” Light for Months, New Survey Reveals

A new survey has uncovered some rather concerning car care habits among American drivers.

According to the research, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Pep Boys, the average car owner waits a whopping four months before addressing their “check engine” light.

Even more shockingly, one in five (20%) admit to putting off addressing the issue for a staggering 6-18 months.

The top reasons?

Nearly a third (32%) say they’ll wait “as long as possible” before bringing their car in, while 39% wait for something to actually break before considering service.

“It’s understandable that car maintenance can be a hassle and an expense many would prefer to avoid,” said Pep Boys spokesperson Samantha Saunders. “

But ignoring that ‘check engine’ light for months on end is a surefire way to end up with much bigger – and more costly – problems down the road.

“The survey also revealed that while 93% of Americans feel preventative car care is important, nearly half (48%) put it off due to financial constraints.

Instead, they’re prioritizing the aesthetics, with exterior light issues (11%), window/windshield cracks (9%) and sound system problems (3%) ranking at the bottom of their to-do lists.

And it’s not just the check engine light that’s being ignored. The average respondent estimates they’ve spent a whopping $6,272 servicing their current car over the years, with $438 going towards annual maintenance alone.

Yet, 21% still feel like their car is going to break down at any moment.

“These findings really drive home the importance of staying on top of routine car care, no matter how much of a pain it may be,” added Saunders. ” Addressing issues early can save you a lot of money and stress in the long run – not to mention potentially dangerous roadside breakdowns.”

Below are the car repairs that survey respondents said stress them out the most.

  • Engine – 66%
  • Brakes – 33%
  • Fuel system – 31%
  • Exhaust system – 16%
  • Tires – 15%
  • AC or Heating – 15%

A surprising 26% of those surveyed even added that their car brings them more stress than finances or their relationships.

Despite these worries, 65% stated that they don’t believe life would be easier without a car. This proves that we are car junkies who cannot imagine life without one. Well except for 32% who did note they wished they could live somewhere where a car wasn’t needed at all.

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 American car owners aged 25+ was commissioned by Pep Boys between March 29 and April 8, 2024. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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