If there's one thing Americans can commit to, it's their cars.
According to an "Automotive Relationship Survey" conducted by AutoTrader.com, consumers tend to personify their cars to the point that the relationship with them mirrors relationships with living beings in their lives.
More than 70 percent of respondents feel "very attached" or "somewhat attached" to their cars, with 36 percent describing their vehicle as an "old friend" and more than a quarter saying they feel sad when they think about parting ways with it. Dependability (65 percent) and comfort (52 percent) were the primary drivers of attachment.
The survey also revealed gender and generational differences in the relationships people have with their cars.
More women than men said they were attached to their car because of the way it looks (48 percent of women versus 29 percent of men), while more men than women bond with their car because of fond memories of the adventures they shared together (57 percent of men versus 20 percent of women).
Survey respondents aged 18-24 were most likely to be attached to their car for its looks (50 percent), while respondents aged 55-64 were most likely to be attached to their car because of the way it drives (60 percent).
"The emotional attachment people feel for their cars is interesting, but not completely surprising," said life coach and relationship expert Dr. Michelle Callahan. "In addition to the large financial investment, a car can become a significant emotional investment — it's there with them for major milestones in their lives like weddings, new babies and graduations and it's literally the 'vehicle' that makes being physically present in these moments possible."
Given this attachment, when it comes time to let go of a car it can be an emotional moment. More than a third (36 percent) of people wanted to see their car "go to a good home" and about two-thirds of those surveyed (65 percent) would want to "say goodbye" to their car by spending quality time together on a road trip or by driving a favorite road.
"Summer is known as the season when people find new love. So while breaking up is never easy, this is a perfect time to let go of relationships that are holding you back," says Callahan. "The good news is you can make a clean break when it comes to cars, and there can be a significant financial upside to doing it right."