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Drivers spend 20% of income on car-related expenses, can’t afford repairs

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Insurance | Market Trends
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On average, drivers spend 20% of their monthly income on car-related expenses, such as repairs, maintenance, insurance premiums and auto-loan payments, according to a MarketWatch Guides survey

The survey also says nearly 2 in 5 drivers can’t afford necessary repairs and upgrades for their cars. 

Drivers who said they couldn’t afford necessary car repairs and upgrades are most likely to drive Volvo (55%), Mercedes-Benz (50%), Ford (50%), Jeep (46%), and Chevrolet (43%).

Of drivers surveyed, the No. 1 solution they found to affording their vehicle was doing their own car maintenance.

“I try to do repairs myself, and I use cars until they start to give me problems. I also refinanced my car when there was about $2,000 left on the loan, which helped me in those last few months of payments,” one of the respondents said. 

Eighteen percent of respondents said they reduced their car insurance coverage to afford car expenses.

According to Jerry’s State of the American Driver Report, also reported that nearly a quarter (22%) of drivers they surveyed were reducing coverage with 39% of Gen Z the most likely.

In reporting on the survey results, Motely Fool raised concerns about driver’s cutting costs by lowering coverage. 

“It’s true that raising your deductible or opting out of certain optional coverages can reduce your auto insurance premiums,” the article said. “But sometimes this can leave you exposed to extra costs if you get in a crash — like rental car cost and towing.

“Even if you can’t afford comprehensive coverage and you’re comfortable taking the bus or paying for your own rental car in case your vehicle ends up at the body shop for a few weeks, think long and hard before you cancel your collision coverage. Choosing a liability-only insurance policy can leave you vulnerable to disastrous out-of-pocket costs. Unless your car is extremely old and worth very little money, it could still be worth insuring in case of a total loss.”

One in 10 of the respondents spend more than 30% of their monthly income paying auto loans, the report said. Yet, it wasn’t the top car-related expense. 

Car-related expenses respondents said are burdensome include fuel (58%), unexpected repairs (47%), routine maintenance (44%), insurance premiums (41%), registration and licensing (26%), parts (16%) and auto loan payments (16%). 

Forty percent of the respondents in MarketWatch’s survey said they haven’t been able to afford other life essentials due to their car expenses, the report said. 

“Over 1 in 8 have found themselves living paycheck to paycheck due to the financial strain of their cars, making it their largest financial burden,” the report said. 

Forty-six percent of drivers surveyed said their vehicle cost impacts made it difficult to save or invest. 

Drivers were sacrificing other expenses to pay for the vehicles, the report said. This includes dining out (25%), vacations (17%), food delivery (13%), social activities (12%) and new clothing (12%). 

Most drivers, or 52%, said their expenses have increased over time. 

MarketWatch surveyed 1,000 drivers about the cost of car ownership for the report. Ninety-one percent of the respondents own a vehicle and 9% lease one. 

In the years since the start of the pandemic, used car prices soaredparts prices increased, and insurers hiked premiums

Some experts speculate that used car prices and inflation in general will even out in 2024. However, drivers are unlikely to find relief from the cost of insurance. 


Photo courtesy of gopixa/iStock

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