Surprising place Americans are turning to for coveted ‘me time’ during pandemic

5 min readSep 1, 2020
New research conducted by OnePoll on behalf of TrueCar revealed how important cars are to Americans. (Photo by why kei on Unsplash)

Americans are turning to a surprising place to get a little alone time during the pandemic — their cars.

A new study of 2,000 Americans who own or lease a vehicle found nearly three in four (73%) use their set of wheels as a private space to get away from the people they live with.

Beyond becoming a haven for “me time,” other activities respondents are grateful to have a car for during these times include leisurely drives (56%), road trips (45%) and a way to carry home improvement supplies (37%).

Over a third have used their vehicle as a place to take business or personal phone calls (37%), and 32% have turned their driver’s seat into a makeshift office space.

Apparently, our cars are more to us than just a vehicle, since two-thirds of respondents think of their vehicle as a friend and one in four confessed to shedding tears when it came time to part with their car.

Seven in 10 (69%) think of their car as an extension of their home and as a part of their family (68%).

Car owners revealed that emotional attachment has led 35% of respondents to actually naming their car.

Some of those creative names included Betsy, Birtha, Bumblee, Cherry, Dr. Ben and Falcon.

The study, commissioned by TrueCar and conducted by OnePoll, discovered the average lifespan of a vehicle is six years — so there’s plenty of time for memorable moments.

Within that time frame, the average person will eat 288 meals in their car and belt out songs 432 times.

Two-thirds of respondents said they experienced some unforgettable life moments in their vehicle.

Forty-two percent of those surveyed had their first kiss in their car while two in five said they had the “move in together” conversation with their partner while seated in their vehicle.

Romance aside, cars were also the home of major professional decisions. Thirty-eight percent have received a job offer in their car and 37% have learned about a promotion.

Sadly, the good times can’t roll on forever, as vehicles will inevitably develop problems. The average vehicle will go four years before it starts needing repairs and will get repaired three times.

Unless your vehicle is leased or you sell your vehicle after a few years, some cash will eventually go into keeping a car on the road as the average repair job costs $722.36 ‒ that’s an average of $2,167.08 in repairs before owners start to think of changing out their vehicle.

It actually takes the average driver four months of bumps in the road to realize it’s time for an upgrade.

“The pandemic has increased our appreciation for the freedom and solitude you can get from a personal vehicle, but vehicles already hosted some of our most memorable life moments,” said Wendy McMullin, Director of Research at TrueCar. “And it makes sense, we spend a lot of time with our vehicles — about seven years on average for a new car.”

Given the length of vehicle ownership, Americans won’t jump behind the driver’s seat of just anything. The average search for a new vehicle takes three months of research.

The most common methods respondents use to find their new vehicle are online and through personal recommendations.

Now due to COVID-19 health concerns, consumers are doing more and more of the car buying process remotely. Recent TrueCar research showed that two-thirds of car buyers are more likely to engage with a dealer offering vehicle sanitization, digital paperwork and vehicle delivery.

When purchasing a vehicle, consumers will also have to consider what to do with their existing vehicle.

A third of respondents will dispose of their car by trading their previous one into the dealership to help toward the lease or purchase of their new vehicle.

Twenty-two percent sold their car to a private party or sold it to a dealer without getting a new set of wheels there (also 22%).

Nearly one in 10 have generously given it to a family member or friend while 4% disposed of the vehicle as a total loss.

“Knowing the value of your existing vehicle will help you determine your budget for your next vehicle. It’s an important aspect of the research process that some consumers don’t consider until they’re at the dealership, and given our emotional attachment to our vehicles, we tend to overestimate their value” added McMullin.

“You can use TrueCar to see how your vehicle’s unique features and condition impact its value, and you can apply that amount toward the purchase of the next vehicle in your life.”


  1. Leisurely drives 56%
  2. Road trips 45%
  3. Getting quiet time for myself 41%
  4. Going for a day-trip 40%
  5. Carrying supplies for a home improvement project 37%
  6. Place for private/business calls 37%
  7. Going camping 33%
  8. Makeshift office 32%
  9. To go somewhere I’ve never been before 30%
  10. Going to a drive-in movie 28%
  11. Going hiking 26%
  12. To go off-roading 26%


  1. Traded into a dealer towards the next vehicle purchase 33%
  2. Sold it to a private party 22%
  3. Sold it to a dealer without purchasing another vehicle 22%
  4. Sold it to a company that picked it up from you 8%
  5. Gave it to a friend or family member 8%
  6. Total loss 4%
  7. Different method 2%
  8. Donated to charity 2%

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