Image of a young woman enjoying a relaxing road trip. She's sitting in a car with her head tilted, her eyes closed and her arm hanging halfway out of the window.

This may come off as a surprise but despite fewer places to go (due to the pandemic), vehicle dependency has seemed to increase.

Many people are valuing their cars now, more than ever, for the escape and safety they provide. Yet, financial worries regarding the costs associated with them is up as well.

So how can we balance keeping our wheels reliable without stressing our budget?

Why We Value Our Cars So Much

Traffic jams. Stressful commutes. Pre-pandemic, driving could be an anxiety-riddled activity. But cars and personal transportation are more indispensable to people’s lives now than before the COVID-19 pandemic — perhaps for a surprising reason.

A recent survey, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Ally Financial, discovered that while almost half of Americans are spending less time doing any work-related driving, many now consider their time behind the wheel as more of a Zen moment. 72% of car owners say that going for a drive alone allows them to clear their head, and more than half of the survey participants view their car as their personal “fortress of solitude” at a time when feelings of protection are very much needed.

Cars are also providing people with a sense of safety. Nearly three out of four people are wary of using public transportation because of COVID-19. These feelings of unease may affect vehicle usage for longer than the immediate future, with 69% of car owners saying they plan on driving more after the pandemic ends, instead of using public transportation.

And notably, cars are incredibly valuable to some members of the gig economy. Around a quarter of drivers for businesses, such as DoorDash or Instacart, have increased their time behind the wheel in the past year.

A graphic with the headline, pandemic boosts essential value of cars. It states that despite fewer places to go, car dependence is up. It also provides statistics. Seventy-two percent of Americans are wary of using public transportation because of COVID-19. And this isn't a short-term trend, sixty-nine percent of car owners plan on driving more after the pandemic versus using public transportation.

The rise of vehicle importance has also brought about financial concerns

Cars are more vital than ever but keeping a vehicle in working order can be a cause for concern. The pandemic has tightened budgets for some, in the interim, while others have financial worries that are more long-term in nature. Not only can car repairs be costly but they’re also sometimes unforeseen — making a blown transmission or a leaking radiator even more troublesome.

If you find yourself struggling with financial uncertainty when it comes to your vehicle, you’re not alone. More than half of Americans worry about unexpected repair costs, while 58% plan to keep their current vehicle longer than they initially thought. Even more worrisome are the tough choices that car owners are now having to make because of the pandemic. Around a third of drivers have had to choose between a car payment or a car repair, while around the same amount of car owners say they cannot afford a surprise auto repair of more than $500 without going into debt.

A graphic with the headline, drive time equals Zen time. It provides statistics that state, seventy-two percent of car owners say taking a drive lets them clear their head, as well as seventy-three percent of men versus fifty-three percent of women consider their cars to be their personal “fortress of solitude”.

How to Put Your Mind at Ease

At a time when you need your car the most, things like regular maintenance can go a long way towards peace of mind. Our car care calendar can help you keep track of what you should check on a regular cadence, while a vehicle service contract (VSC) can help you with expenses.

You may be asking, what is a vehicle service contract? A VSC helps protect the electrical, mechanical, and safety components of your vehicle, and can offer you coverage after your manufacturer’s warranty expires. It helps cover vehicle repairs, replacement parts, and, in some cases, related expenses that you might accrue if your car breaks down.

Related: How to Navigate Expensive Car Repair Bills

Ally’s Vehicle Service Contracts offer four layers of coverage to fit your budget, protecting over 7,500 of your car’s components and is available for both new and used models.

A graphic with a headline that reads, car owners are looking for ways to put their minds at ease. It states that vehicle service contracts go beyond a manufacturer’s warranty and help cover vehicle repairs, replacement parts and related expenses. It also provides statistics. Thirty-one percent of car owners cannot afford a surprise auto repair of more than $500 without going into debt. Additionally, more than forty percent of car owners are more likely now to purchase vehicle service contracts.

Keep Your Car Covered

You may have fewer places to go at the moment, but your wheels give you the ability to safely get away — even if it is only a few miles down the road to your local supermarket. In case the unexpected happens during one of your errands, be protected and prepared for your car’s future. A vehicle service contract can help make maintenance and repairs more budget-friendly, precisely at a time when you need to reduce stressors from your life.

Cover your car with an Ally Vehicle Service Contract.

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