On average, Americans spent $1,986 on vehicle repairs and maintenance in the last five years, according to a recent Ally survey conducted online by The Harris Poll among 2,012 U.S. adults.

Millennials and Generation Z (ages 18-34 for this survey) paid an average of $2,334 for vehicle maintenance and repairs — a higher financial burden than Baby Boomers and older adults.  By comparison, adults 55 and older spent $1,654, on average, during the same time period, according to a news release.

Ally’s survey results come on after research from the Federal Reserve learned about 4 in 10 adults would not be able to take cover unexpected expenses of $400 without selling something or finding themselves in debt.

“Many Americans rely on their cars to get to work and losing access to your vehicle can be a major disruption and huge source of stress—particularly if you can’t cover the repair cost,” said Mark Manzo, President of Insurance at Ally Financial in the news release. “The financial strain can be even more daunting for young people who are early in their careers and may be paying down student loan debt as well.”

And when it comes to putting way money, younger adults are at a disadvantage. Another recent Ally survey found two-thirds of 18- to 24-year-olds have not created an emergency savings fund, compared to around half of other adults.

Ally’s latest survey findings found big differences in expenses by age and family size, suggesting not all Americans share in repair costs the same:

  • Younger people paid nearly $700 more in car repairs and maintenance, on average, than Americans aged 55 and older during the last five years. The survey found that, on average, U.S. adults:
    • 18-34 spent $2,334
    • 35-44 spent $1,978
    • 45-54 spent $2,135
    • 55 and older spent $1,654
  • On average, households with children under 18 paid $347 more in car repairs and maintenance over the past five years than households without children ($2,201 vs. $1,854), suggesting the cost of raising a family may be heightened by extra repair and maintenance costs.

“Unfortunately, there are too many Americans who are just one unexpected repair bill away from being forced to make tough financial decisions,” Manzo added. “What’s more, many of these drivers aren’t aware of options, like vehicle service contacts, to make their repair costs more predictable.”

The Ally survey also found only 21 percent of Americans have purchased a vehicle service contract (VSC) or extended warranty in the last five years. VSCs are auto protection products that cover expenses like repairs and replacement parts.

Additionally, VSCs can be used to manage repair costs over an extended period of time, making these expenses more predictable and amenable to a household budget. When buying a new or used car from an auto dealer, VSCs can be financed as part of the monthly car loan payment.

Methodology: The survey was conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of Ally Financial from May 7-9, among 2,012 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. 

Source: Ally Financial Inc.