Car break-ups: What pushes us to part with our vehicles?

March 01, 2024 by

The top reasons for splitting up with your car – as told by other drivers

Closely tied for the top spot as the number one reason to consider selling your car are reliability and higher running costs. Drivers have shared which factors would make them think about car-changing, and according to almost eight out of 10 (78%) vehicle owners, an unreliable car is a key aspect. Of course, if your car no longer gets you from A to B, it might be time to move on.

Not far behind is costly maintenance, as 71% stated this as a reason to consider selling. Running costs can comprise anything from your vehicle’s annual service to insurance and car tax. Keeping on top of car maintenance can prolong a vehicle’s life, but when costs start to climb, most drivers won’t hang around.

More than a third felt that familial duties were a priority, too, as 36% said an expanding family would make them consider selling their car. A further 26% like to keep an eye on the odometer and would think about a car change once the mileage gets too high. If you’re unsure of the effect of more miles on your car’s value, take a look at our handy mileage guide.

Our research has also found that drivers aren’t keen on being pressured to move on from their motors either. Only 2% of vehicle owners would sell a car if their friends or family were embarrassed by it, and a mere 4% believe you should get rid when you get divorced. Meanwhile, 6% believe the right time for a change is when the warranty expires.

Brits aren’t shy to move on from their old cars

According to our survey, drivers want a quick and painless goodbye once they’ve decided to change cars. In fact, when the time came to sell, 44% of drivers told us that it took them less than a month to part ways with their car. A further 30% successfully sold their car within just three months, meaning nearly three-quarters (74%) had moved on within just a few months of their decision.

A smaller number of sellers opted for a longer farewell – 14% changed cars within four to six months after deciding it was the right time and 12% took seven months or longer to finally split up.

Older drivers were more likely to make a swift choice. Eight out of 10 (82%) vehicle owners aged 55 and over were able to sell their car within three months, compared to just 18% who took four months or longer.

In comparison, 69% of motorists aged 35 to 54 sold in the first three months after making the decision, while the remaining 31% took over four months. Those holding on to their old cars for the longest were owners aged 18 to 34, as two-thirds (65%) were able to sell within three months, but 35% waited four months or more to move on.

A break-up that leads to greener pastures

Car-changing doesn’t have to be difficult and can lead to better things in your new relationship. More than a quarter (27%) of drivers told us that they wished they had a better car and even admitted to looking at other vehicles with envy (26%).

The most envious motorists among us are the younger generation of drivers. One-third of 18 to 34-year-olds admitted to having car envy, compared to 30% of drivers aged 35 to 54 and just 19% of those 55 or older who felt this way.

Amazingly, close to a third (30%) of vehicle owners also said that once they change cars, the coveted ‘new car feel’ lasts over a year for them. Similarly, one-quarter (26%) of drivers get that feeling for seven to 12 months after purchasing, and 27% say it lingers for around four to six months. Surprisingly, the fewest motorists (17%) felt that a new car feeling only lasts for up to three months.

Women were the most likely to hold onto that shiny vehicle vibe, as 36% of female drivers said that the ‘new car feel’ lasts a year or more for them, compared to just a quarter (24%) of men who felt the same way. The majority (58%) of men stated it lasts between four and 12 months, compared to just under half (48%) of women.

How easy is it to change your car?

Selling your car online with Carwow couldn’t be easier. Simply enter your registration number for a fast valuation based on the latest market data and previous sales. Then, add a few more details and some pictures for our team, who’ll work with you on a price that you’d be happy to sell your vehicle at, and we take it from there. Trusted dealers will then bid on your car through our daily online auctions.

John Rawlings, Consumer Editor at Carwow, says:

“From increased running costs to expanding families, there are many reasons why drivers might decide that it’s time to part ways with a beloved car. It can also be an emotional time for many, much like breaking up with a long-term partner.

“Once you’ve decided to sell, changing your car should be a quick and painless process. Our research shows drivers like to get rid of their old cars within the first few months, which is why choosing the right way to sell is important plus helps you achieve the best price.”

About this data

[1] All the data used in this report was collected through a survey of 1,000 UK adults via YouGov. The survey ran on 21 February 2024 and respondents were selected at random. All information was taken directly from the results of this survey unless otherwise stated.