A third of American drivers surveyed ignore maintenance lights

A survey by Hyundai and OnePoll found that 33% of Americans drive with the check engine light/maintenance light on. (Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash)

The average American will drive around for nine days with a warning light on before taking their vehicle in for servicing, according to new research.

The survey of 2,000 American drivers found that’s not the only questionable thing they’re doing when it comes to their vehicles — the average respondent drives 7,460 miles before changing their oil.

That’s more than 2,000 miles above the typically recommended distance of 5,000 miles.

The survey, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Hyundai, revealed 47% of Americans surveyed have been late or missed an event due to a vehicle malfunction.

Of those mishap victims, half couldn’t make it to work on time, while a third have missed a birthday celebration (35%) or a get-together with friends (32%).

In spite of so many breakdowns, four in five think they take good care of their vehicles. Results also found a third confessed to driving with a check engine or maintenance light on.

Among the most common bad car habits were driving with bad tire pressure (26%), not using the parking brake (22%) and shifting into reverse while the car is in motion (21%).

Beyond the daily wear and tear on the road, one in four have not had their vehicles serviced in the past 12 months.

So why aren’t people taking better care of their cars? Over half of respondents revealed they find maintaining their set of wheels intimidating.

Forty-five percent said it’s the expense that has kept them getting their car serviced.

A quarter just didn’t have the time to wait around for their car to be serviced. A third blamed their lack of knowledge and three in 10 revealed technicians’ attitudes kept them out of the repair shop.

“In order to keep up with the demands of daily life, routine vehicle maintenance is important to ensure you can get to your destination safely and reliably,” said Hyundai Chief Customer Officer Barry Ratzlaff.

“Especially with the ongoing pandemic, it’s also important to be safe while getting routine vehicle maintenance, which is why we are offering service pick-up and drop-off, and we are providing guidelines for dealerships to help safeguard the health of customers and employees.”

Sixty-nine percent would take advantage of a pick-up/drop-off service if their vehicle needed to be serviced.

Nearly four in five (78%) think it’s vital to know the precautions a business is taking before visiting a location.

The top three things respondents are looking for in their future vehicle services are social distancing between employees and consumers (62%), requiring PPE face coverings for employees and consumers (51%) and touchless/hands-free transactions (43%).

While many have been sheltering in place, Americans have still been using their wheels to get around, with the average person hitting the road four times a week.

That still leaves room for car troubles, but respondents’ lack of knowledge when it comes to vehicle upkeep was evident within the survey.

Seventeen percent admitted they couldn’t change their oil by themselves. Thirty-seven percent said they could, but not without some instructions.

One in 10 confessed they couldn’t change a tire alone and 36% said they could, but they would need to look up a how-to guide.

“While it’s valuable to know basic skills like changing a tire, your local dealership is the best place for regular maintenance and other services when it’s needed,” Ratzlaff added. “Taking your vehicle in for routine maintenance at its normal intervals helps improve the performance and extend the life of your car.”


Drive with the check engine light/maintenance light on. 33%
Drive with low tire pressure 26%
Drive over speed bumps/potholes without slowing down 24%
Not using the parking brake when parking the car 22%
Shifting into reverse while car is moving 21%
Defrosting windshield with hot water 19%
Rapid acceleration 18%
Run out of gas 18%
Ignoring weird sounds the car makes 15%
Hard braking and cornering 14%


Work 53%
Birthday party 35%
Get together 32%
Engagement party 28%
School pick up/drop off 28%
Wedding/baby shower 27%
Dinner party 27%
Graduation 27%
Family reunion 23%
Wedding 22%
Vacation 20%
Job interview 18%

>> Download the video and infographic for this research story <<
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