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Survey Says 35% of Spouses Irked by Adjustments After Sharing the Wheel

You’ve merged your lives, your finances, and even your Netflix favorites. But when it comes to driving, are you and your spouse truly traveling in harmony?

Or are you headed for a multi-car pileup of pet peeves about lead feet, back seat driving, and who gets control of the audio auxiliary cord? Mazda surveyed hundreds of married couples to find out just how compatible they really are when it comes to the family car.

The results? Let’s just say you may want to buckle up for some surprising revelations about the differences between how husbands and wives approach the open road. From strong opinions on the proper following distance to very different music tastes, it turns out the drivers’ seats in your household aren’t as in sync as you thought!

Car Compatible Survey Results

One in four Americans consider themselves “car-incompatible” with their spouses or partners, and a new study has found that 10% of men would consider it a dealbreaker if they weren’t “car-compatible.”

The poll of 2,000 married or cohabitating car drivers found that 25% are incompatible with how they treat vehicles — meaning they have different ideas on how to use and treat what they drive.

car compatible statistics

With many homes sharing a car these days due to high car costs, there is no surprise that 45% of couples admitted to arguing over use of the car. If this is an issue in your home, maybe grabbing one of these cars under $30,000 may stop the arguing.

Twenty eight percent of couples admit they argue over a shared vehicle have gotten into disagreements and arguments specifically over how the car’s settings are adjusted.

Commissioned by Mazda for its Driver Personalization System and conducted by Talker Research, the study found the average couple shares a vehicle eight times per month.

And when getting into the vehicle after their spouse has been driving, respondents said they frequently have to readjust several settings in their vehicle before driving if their spouse was in it before them.

This includes:

  • Seat positions (62%)
  • Mirrors (55%)
  • Seatbacks (51%)
  • Stereo (50%)

car compatible stats

These disagreements can be particularly stressful with 25% of married or cohabitating people defining them as serious. However, 59% said they probably wouldn’t argue if their spouse would just give them a heads-up about the state of the vehicle.

Many said they’d reward their spouse for properly readjusting vehicle settings after driving it. These rewards included:

  • Cleaning the vehicle once a week (25%)
  • Taking them out on a romantic dinner date (21%)
  • Watching a movie their spouse loves that they themselves hate (18%)
  • Handle chores for their spouse (16%).
  • Eight percent said they’d even renew their wedding vows.

Maybe they will even let you hang a weird car accessory if take the car for a wash too!

“Our vehicles are a part of our daily lives, and it can be frustrating for drivers when getting into your vehicle and important features aren’t set to your liking,” said Matthew Valbuena, Mazda’s In-Vehicle Technologies expert at Mazda. “Driving should be an enjoyable experience and no couple should have unwanted friction because of their vehicle. Instead, they should consider what makes their driving experience comfortable and strive to make that a reality.”

The study also identified who in relationships is most likely to be responsible for different driving situations.

Respondents said they’re more likely to be the better driver of the two of them (57%), fill the gas tank (52%) and are more likely to sing while driving than their spouse (42%).

Meanwhile, they claimed their spouses are likely to not reset the seat position (50%), not reset the mirror positions (45%), backseat drive (45%), dictate what route to take (43%), drive too aggressively (39%) and not fill the gas tank (37%).

On average, drivers said it takes them two minutes to readjust everything when they get in the car after their spouse. Thirteen percent said having to readjust everything has even caused them to run late to wherever they were heading.

Elizabeth Earnshaw, a licensed marriage and family therapist, shared tips on how to handle these arguments. “When couples have a perpetual problem, which is an issue where couples have different philosophies, they can be a real strain on relationships without clear communication. When there is a perpetual problem, both partners should come together, calmly discuss and create solutions oriented plan that benefits both partners.”

  1. Having to readjust the seat settings – 35%
  2. Having to readjust the mirrors – 22%
  3. Feeling too far away from the steering wheel – 15%
  4. Being greeted with an empty gas tank – 13%
  5. Turning on the stereo to the volume being too loud – 11%
  6. Having to readjust the steering wheel position – 10%
  7. Turning on the radio to find it set to a station you hate – 8%
  8. Feeling too cramped – 8%
  9. Facing a mess of some kind in the passenger’s area – 7%
  10. Having to readjust the climate control settings – 6%

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 married or cohabitating Americans who have been in a relationship for at least five years and share a vehicle was commissioned by Mazda between Apr. 9 and Apr. 152024. It was conducted by market research company Talker Research, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society (MRS) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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