Americans have been dependent on cars to get their daily chores and other endeavors done within no time. Ever since Henry Ford publicized the production of cars, the land of America has been the hot trove for every new car to showcase its mettle in. Since the onset of the 20th century, the number of railway networks, public transportation networks, and airports has increased nationwide. But none of them have been able to displace the humble car from the top of its podium.
Fast forward to 2020, and the world goes to a standstill because of the dreadful coronavirus pandemic. In this time of crisis, Americans are adapting to a changing lifestyle that involves staying at home and going to fewer places than they usually do. Ironically despite the lack of options in traveling, vehicle dependency in the United States is at a much higher rate compared to the period before the pandemic. People are feeling the urge to take out their used cars. Due to the price inflation in the used car market and lack of new car production, even a used Kia Seltos costs almost similar to a new one.
In a nutshell, the value of cars has shot up in the American mindset ever since the pandemic set in, as cars provide that escape from life and safety that they had been missing out on in recent times. However, as people use cars more and more, the financial costs also pile up which end up being a headache to the driver. In this article, we discuss how car enthusiasts could find their ‘Fortress of Solitude’ within their humble cars, without compromising too much on their budget.
Why Americans value their car on a pedestal
Many factors can dampen the daily driving experience in the lockdown era, that includes traffic jams, stressful commutes, and various legislations. Still, people are resorting to their cars as the no.1 source of transportation even in the pandemic. As a matter of fact, cars and personal transportation are even more indispensable to people currently than before the pandemic.
OnePoll conducted a survey recently on behalf of Ally Financial. The survey found out that almost half of the Americans are spending less time on any work-related driving. Instead, they resort to the time that they spend behind the steering wheel as a sort of a Zen moment. The results were surprising- almost 72% of car owners said that driving helped them to declutter their minds and find inner peace within themselves.
In this current era with various social restrictions, more than half of the survey participants considered their car as their ‘personal fortress of solitude,’ which included nearly three-quarters (73%) of men and more than half (53%) of women. They said that they drove their car around to unwind themselves and get in sync with their personal feelings, thus helping them to feel an invisible barrier of protection around them.
In the safety frontier too, cars are giving people a sigh of relief. Nowadays, even though public transportation has reopened and is progressing at a steady pace, most Americans are still hesitant to hop on a bus or train. Almost 3 out of 4 Americans are reluctant to use public transportation amidst safety concerns due to COVID-19.
With this feeling of unrest prevalent among many Americans, this may affect future vehicle usage. For example, 69% of car owners said that they will stick to their cars as the main mode of transportation even after the pandemic ends, skipping public transportation altogether. Cars have also become an extremely valuable commodity to some members of the gig economy. For example, around a quarter of drivers for businesses, like DoorDash or Instacart have increased their usage of a car in the past year.
Rising financial concerns associated with the rising importance of cars
Although cars are an integral part of our daily routine, keeping them in decent working condition is a hassle in itself. The pandemic has tightened the budgets of many working-class Americans. For others, new financial worries have popped up that are more long-term in nature. You can’t predict when your car may encounter a blown transmission or a leaking radiator, leaving you with a bill that may cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Still, remember that you aren’t the only one who is worried about the financial uncertainty of your car. Almost half of the American car owners overthink unexpected car repairs. About 58% of the car owners wished to keep their car longer than they had initially thought. Also, car owners are feeling the burden of tough choices that they have to make during the pandemic.
For example, about 1/3rd of drivers had to choose between a car payment and a car repair. Surprisingly, around the same amount of owners said that they could afford a surprise auto repair of more than $500 only by taking out debt.
How to keep your mind at peace relating the expenses of your car
There is no denying that cars are an important asset to have to get around places during a lockdown. To keep your car in prime condition, regular maintenance could go a long way. According to Ally Financial, things like a car care calendar can help owners keep a track of all the factors while they head towards their regular service check-in.
A vehicle service contract (VSC) can also help out a lot. This contract safeguards the electrical, mechanical, and safety components of your vehicle. This contract can also offer you extra coverage once your manufacturer warranty period runs out. All the costs related to vehicle repairs, replacement parts, and other expenses are covered through the VSC.
Thus, in a nutshell, even if you have fewer places to head to at the moment, your car offers you the privilege to quickly get your daily errands done, even if it is just a few miles away down to your local supermarket. In such a crucial period, you surely wouldn’t want your car breaking down during one of your errands. So it is best to play safe and be prepared with proper maintenance and repairs.