More Car Owners Shifting to DIY Auto Repair

Car Ownership Plans Are Postponed Amid Pandemic, New CarParts.com Study Finds

Torrance, California – According to a new Car Ownership Survey released by CarParts.com, potential car buyers are putting off their plans to buy or lease a new vehicle and car owners are shifting to DIY auto repair. The auto industry has undoubtedly been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. As many Americans continue to work from home and spend fewer hours on the road, numbers for auto sales and professional repair are on the decline.

The CarParts.com Car Ownership Survey was conducted to identify any significant changes in consumer behavior regarding car ownership during the pandemic. In particular, if and how the pandemic is influencing their preferences when it comes to auto repair.

Key Insights
  • Majority of respondents who had plans to buy or lease a vehicle in 2020 have chosen to hold off due to the pandemic.
  • Financial instability and general uncertainty during this time are two of the top reasons why most respondents have chosen to wait (until their financial situation improves or until the pandemic is over) before buying or leasing a new car.
  • More vehicle owners are choosing to do DIY repairs at home. There has been a significant jump in the number of respondents who have made the switch from bringing their cars to an auto repair shop to fixing their vehicles on their own.
  • Majority of respondents who have chosen to make the switch to DIY repair belong to the segment who have postponed their plans to buy or lease another vehicle.

The CarParts.com Car Ownership Survey is based on an online survey conducted among a sample of 2,310 consumers from July 30 to August 5, 2020.

Plans to Buy or Lease Vehicles Have Been Postponed Due to COVID-19

63% of potential car buyers or leasers changed their mind showing the pandemic's big impact on car ownership plans

  • Had no plans of buying or leasing a vehicle – 1,460 (64%)
  • Wanted to buy a pre-owned vehicle – 566 (24%)
  • Wanted to purchase a new vehicle – 247 (11%)
  • Wanted to lease a car – 28 (1%)
  • Held off on buying or leasing a vehicle now – 529 (63%)
  • Pushing through with buying or leasing a vehicle – 312 (37%)

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 36% (844) of survey respondents were planning on buying or leasing a vehicle. Our survey revealed that more than half of the respondents from this segment have had to postpone their plans due to the pandemic.

One notable insight from this survey is that respondents who are choosing to push through with purchasing or leasing a vehicle are doing so not only because they have adequate financial resources, but also because they see it as a necessary expense in order to safely get around during the pandemic.

How Has COVID-19 Affected Car Ownership Plans?

Top reasons why potential car buyers changed their minds about buying or leasing a vehicle

Reduced income, loss of employment, and the overall uncertainty of how long the pandemic will last are some of the main driving factors that have changed the minds of survey respondents regarding buying or leasing a vehicle. Changes to how people work and how businesses operate also factored into their decision.

While some have scrapped their plans altogether, others say they are simply waiting until most businesses have opened and their situations have stabilized.

More Car Owners Shifting to DIY Auto Repair Amid Pandemic

Car owners opting to DIY instead of visiting a repair shop grew by 11%

As prospective buyers postpone their plans to buy or lease a vehicle, older models will be on the road for longer than originally planned. Other studies have already reported a notable increase in the average age of cars on the road. As a result, vehicle owners will need to stay on top of needed vehicle repairs and maintenance work, especially those with plans of selling or trading in their vehicle in the future.

Before the pandemic, majority of the respondents were already performing their own vehicle repairs at home instead of taking their car to their mechanic. Initially, this segment was only 16% greater than the rest of the respondents.

However, more recent responses to this survey have revealed that the gap has further widened. This was mainly due to a 7% increase in the number of respondents who have stopped taking their vehicle to an auto shop for repairs.

Divided by segment, the largest increase (31%) was observed among respondents who changed their minds about buying or leasing a vehicle.

COVID-19 is Causing Some Owners to Delay Vehicle Repairs

37% are choosing to delay getting professional vehicle repairs until the pandemic situation improves

While many of the survey respondents are choosing to fix their cars on their own, others are waiting to bring their cars in for repairs.

A significant percentage of respondents say they’ll be taking their vehicle to an auto repair shop as soon as they can. However, 37% of respondents are choosing to delay getting professional vehicle repairs done because of safety concerns.

What Does the CarParts.com Survey Tell Us?

Limited financial resources and safety concerns are driving people to delay their plans of purchasing/leasing a vehicle. Many are also opting to postpone visits to the auto repair shop despite needing to get their cars fixed.

As a result, there is a surge in the number of people choosing to DIY auto repairs.

As to when vehicle owners will feel more comfortable with heading to the dealership or their mechanic’s garage for repairs—this remains uncertain. Many businesses have had to reduce their workforce or shut down completely.

While the growth of COVID-19 cases is slowing down, the impact of the pandemic will continue to be felt in the coming months⁠—or possibly even years.

With more people trying their hand at troubleshooting and fixing their own vehicles, they’ll be looking for reliable sources of information to help them conduct these repairs safely and correctly. At the same time, they will be more likely to seek out competitive pricing for replacement parts and purchase them online for convenience.

About CarParts.com

For over 20 years, CarParts.com has been a leader in the e-commerce automotive aftermarket, providing collision, engine, and performance parts and accessories. With over 50 million parts delivered, we've helped everyday drivers across the contiguous United States find the right parts to keep their vehicles on the road.

With a focus on the end-to-end customer experience, we've designed our website and sourcing network to simplify the way drivers get the parts they need. Our vehicle selector and easy-to-navigate, mobile-friendly website offer customers guaranteed fitment and a convenient online shopping experience. And with our own wide distribution network, we bring the very best brands and manufacturers directly to consumer hands, cutting out all the brick-and-mortar supply chain costs to provide quality parts at a discount for our loyal customers. Combined with our 90-day return policy and satisfaction guarantee, CarParts.com makes it simple for customers to get parts delivered straight to their door. CarParts.com is headquartered in Torrance, California.

CarParts.com conducts consumer surveys and analyzes data to identify emerging trends and changing behaviors shaping the automotive and repair industry. Watch this space for more studies that provide new and valuable insights into car ownership, vehicle maintenance, and auto repair.

Media Relations

Sasha Trosman
Director of Marketing & Communications
press@carparts.com

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