Americans Are Delaying Car Maintenance to the Tune of Nearly $25 Billion

August 1, 2019
By Camille Sheehan

BETHESDA, Md. – August 1, 2019 – Summer driving season is upon us, which means at one moment you’re driving down the highway, the next you’re slamming on your brakes when you hit traffic. You trust yourself to stop, but do you trust the person behind you?

Americans are delaying maintenance at an alarming rate. According to the Auto Care Factbook 2020 and IMR Inc., there’s $24.9 billion in delayed auto maintenance. What does that mean? A survey of over 100,000 American households (driving more than 170,000 vehicles) revealed they know that repairs or maintenance need to be performed on their car but have chosen to delay the work.

What are consumers delaying the most? Brake pads, tire changes and oil changes rank at the top of the list. Those maintenance jobs really add up: with 278 million cars on America’s highways and byways, there’s over 5 million delayed brake jobs, nearly 7 million unchanged tires and 11 million cars in need of an oil change.

  • “We surveyed 100,000 households about how they’ve maintained their vehicles and whether they’ve knowingly delayed any maintenance on those vehicles,” said Bill Thompson, CEO, IMR, Inc. “We found that a surprising amount of households are knowingly delaying vehicle maintenance and that the primary reasons are economic, convenience and a perception that delaying the maintenance isn’t quite effecting vehicle performance. Ultimately, servicing your vehicle at the recommended service intervals can keep money in your pocket by avoiding more unintentional wear, a catastrophic failure or worse case, an accident.”

  • “We’re all guilty of not repairing our vehicles on a routine schedule, or even when the check engine light comes on,” said Behzad Rassuli, senior vice president, strategic development, Auto Care Association. “But, not all repairs are made equal, and not all of them set off a check engine light. That’s why even if you’re not checking your owner’s manual, it’s important to get your car serviced on a regular basis. There are free resources including the Car Care Guide and service schedule at The Auto Care Association and Car Care Council hope to raise the awareness of maintenance amongst all drivers to make sure we’re all traveling safely this summer.”

More details on this research such as the maintenance items most delayed, reasons given for the delays or demographics related to the delays can be found in the Auto Care Factbook 2020