Car Care Counts With Consumers Who Want to Increase Their Vehicles’ Value and Lifespan

Automotive and mobility analyst Lisa Whalen delves into consumer perceptions around vehicle care and maintenance

graphic with image of a car being serviced
Getty Images / Morning Consult artwork by Tadi Martinez

At a time when global economic factors are impacting driving behaviors and potentially idling and weakening cars, it’s even more important for service providers to remind customers to keep their vehicles in top shape. Most consumers agree that regular maintenance can extend a vehicle’s life and increase its value, but brands should note the generational differences in attitude, as well as emerging trends on where certain demographics prefer to source their service and maintenance.

April heralds National Car Care Month, when consumers are urged to get their vehicles in for service and maintenance in preparation for the spring and summer travel season. Despite many consumers driving less as a result of higher gas prices, they recognize the need for car care: A near universal 96% of vehicle owners agree that regularly scheduled maintenance extends a vehicle’s life, with more than three-fourths saying it “definitely” does. Car care has become especially critical now that people are hanging onto their vehicles longer due to low supply.

Consumers know that maintenance is important, but Gen Z lags behind

There’s a 25-percentage-point difference between Gen Z adults who think that maintenance definitely increases vehicle lifespan and baby boomers who said the same (59% versus 84%, respectively). Across all the generations, Gen Z adults had the largest share who believe that maintenance does not contribute to vehicle life extension, which suggests a major gap in knowledge that service providers and automakers should fill, particularly as Gen Z adults are just entering their vehicle-buying years.

Respondents were asked if they think performing regularly scheduled maintenance on their vehicle extends its life

Survey conducted April 6-9, 2022, among a representative sample of 1,681 U.S. vehicle owners, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points. “Don’t know/No opinion” responses are not shown.

When asked about whether specific types of maintenance would raise the resale value of their wheels, 61% of owners said they thought performing both regularly scheduled maintenance and specific repairs would definitely raise the market price of their vehicles. Car owners were less likely to consider interior detailing and exterior car washing important for increasing resale value, though the former edged out the latter slightly (40% versus 35%, respectively).

Respondents were asked whether they think the following service acts would increase their vehicle’s resale value:

Survey conducted April 6-9, 2022, among a representative sample of 1,681 U.S. vehicle owners, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points. Figures may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

Once again, younger vehicle owners lagged older ones in recognizing the value of maintenance: 51% and 55% of Gen Z adults and millennials, respectively, feel that regular maintenance definitely leads to boosted resale prices, compared with 66% of baby boomers who said the same. Interestingly, Gen Z adults (26%) and millennials (21%) were more likely than older generations to think paint jobs enhance their vehicle’s value, which is not surprising given their enthusiasm for customizing their cars. Shops that focus on paint jobs can see bigger returns on their marketing initiatives if they double down on outreach to younger vehicle owners.

Consumers are mixed on where to source service and maintenance

While consumers have a near-equal preference for independent repair/care shops and dealerships, 10% said they preferred to service their vehicle themselves at home.

Vehicle owners were asked where they prefer to have their vehicles serviced

Survey conducted April 6-9, 2022, among a representative sample of 1,681 U.S. vehicle owners, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.

Brands should definitely pay attention to the 7% of vehicle owners who said they want maintenance or repair services to come to them. While only 3% of men prefer this option, 12% of women find it appealing, likely because they value the convenience and the chance to avoid a perceived unpleasant experience in the shop. General preference for remote vehicle maintenance is likely to increase in the future as more and more consumers find this a convenient alternative to bringing their cars to brick-and-mortar locations.