61% of drivers admit someone else notices they’re having car trouble before them

NEW YORK — Do your car repair skills need a tune-up? Eight in 10 Americans feel confident in their ability to assess when their vehicle needs maintenance — but the majority (61%) admit that others notice their car issues before they do.

In a recent survey of 2,000 car owners, three in five feel someone else will be the first to point out their vehicle needs upkeep. So, who is the first one to notice your car needs a little TLC? A partner tops the list (55%), followed by a parent (47%), and then a mechanic or vehicle inspector (29%).

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of SimpleTire ahead of National Car Care Month in April, researchers wanted to understand the ways in which driving challenges and vehicle maintenance needs vary by region.

Regardless of location, 55 percent agreed that snowstorms are the worst weather to drive in. Meanwhile, potholes were the most common road obstacle for all drivers (53%). When driving in challenging road conditions, people tend to worry about their tires (45%), brakes (41%), and battery (38%) more than anything else.

The survey also identified key differences in the car maintenance habits and driving preferences across America. In the Midwest, drivers are most likely to forget to replace their windshield wipers (35%). Drivers in the Northeast don’t always change their brakes (38%), and South Easterners were most likely to overlook a battery performance warning (36%).

Car repair by the season

Twenty-seven percent say spring is the best season for driving, with summer as the runner-up (23%). Midwestern drivers also favored the summer much more than those in the Southwest (29% vs. 14%). On average, seasonal car repairs rack up $1,772 per year for American car owners.

Forgetting to fix post-winter issues (28%) and preparing cars for the fall season (34%) may contribute to this cost. Worn-out tires also contribute to these expenses, as 31 percent of drivers admit to overlooking their timely replacement.

As for the spring and summer, other common problems include worn windshield wipers (33%), a broken A/C unit (32%), and a broken drive belt (32%).

“Both routine and seasonal maintenance are important in keeping your vehicle functioning safely,” says Josh Chalofsky, Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer at SimpleTire, in a statement. “Ahead of the spring months, test your battery to make sure it hasn’t lost any power, and inspect your entire vehicle, including windshield wipers, brakes and tires, for any post-winter damage.”

Safety first

Forty-five percent have their routine vehicle maintenance completed by a local provider, while 40 percent rely on their own skills.

Most drivers (74%) highly prioritize car maintenance, with 71 percent doing so to extend the lifespan of their vehicle and 70 percent to ensure their family’s road safety. Those who don’t place car maintenance at the top of their to-do list (more than 500 car owners) claim it’s too expensive, and that they’d rather spend their money on other things (35%).

“Saving money on vehicle repairs can be as simple as making sure your tires are properly inflated, which can extend their average life by 4,700 miles,” Chalofsky adds. “Making sure your tires are rotated, balanced and aligned can also help prevent potential accidents.”

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