More than a third of drivers in the UK say they are holding on to their car for longer than intended as a result of the cost-of-living crisis. New research by consumer car magazine What Car? found one in three of the drivers it questioned were hanging on to their car for a little longer amid financial pressures.

According to the survey of more than 1,000 car buyers, 34.5 percent said the cost-of-living crisis had made them hold on to their vehicle for longer than originally planned. Of those, almost two thirds (65.8 percent) said they had held on to their car for more than six months longer than originally intended. A fifth (21.4 percent) of those who were putting off replacing their vehicle said they had spent three to six months longer than planned with their current car.

It seems the ongoing cost-of-living crisis is making drivers do more than just reduce the frequency of their car shopping. Of those quizzed, 14.2 percent said they were originally shopping for a new car, but had moved to the used market as a result of the financial implications.

Potential used car buyer inspecting door

Staggeringly, a similar proportion (12.8 percent) of drivers said they were considering doing some of their own vehicle servicing and maintenance in a bid to save on motoring costs. The data doesn’t disclose whether these drivers are qualified or competent to do so, but What Car? said drivers were contemplating their own maintenance as a result of “rising prices”.

The news comes after figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed the new car market experienced another sluggish year in 2022, with new car sales down by two percent compared with 2021. Compared with pre-pandemic 2019, registrations were down by around 700,000 units, with 1.61 million new cars sold.

Steve Huntingford, the editor of What Car?, said the cost-of-living crisis was impacting the health of the car industry and the transition to electric vehicles, which tend to be more expensive than equivalent petrol- or diesel-powered models.

“The UK’s new car market is still below pre-pandemic levels,” he said. “Buyers holding on to their current vehicles for longer or switching to the used market is slowing down the much-needed recovery.

“The cost-of-living crisis is also threatening to slow down electric vehicle uptake in the country. Electric vehicles continue to command a premium over equivalent petrol or diesel models, and with tightening purse strings, buyers will be less hesitant to make the switch.”

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