THE PSYCHOLOGY OF CARS: CONNECTING, CLEANING & COLLISIONS

The pleasure of slowing Down

Professor Lynne Pearce has spent more than 20 years writing about driving. Her headline-hitting research is based on one simple question: what do we think about when we’re behind the wheel? In it she points out a psychological connection to our cars where she says many of the issues pertaining career and home life were unravelled, sometimes resolved in the course of the drive. This simple observation prompted her to delve deeper into the psychological benefits of time spent behind the wheel. It’s a time that allows for productive thinking, it provides the ultimate time out for problem solving and it offers the pleasures of slowing down.

So if there is a subliminal connection that exists for the tools that give us mobility in the fast paced world we live, then why is car cleaning something many of us hate doing? You only have to see global statistics that show why car was businesses continue to enjoy a boom and why it’s a $48bn industry.

Ever wonder how not cleaning your car might actually be hurting it?

Damaging our cars without trying…

You might think that dirt on your car isn’t doing any harm. Maybe you even joke that it’s protecting the paintwork. Unfortunately, this really is just a joke; the dirt (which could include salt) contains minerals that, over time, will start to eat into the paintwork on your car. Going too long between cleans could result in permanent damage that costs a lot to put right. It might even make your vehicle more vulnerable to rust. 

Even your alloy wheels can be damaged in this way. There are ways that your wheel can be made to look like new again, learn more here. However, once you have the repairs completed, keeping them clean will prevent you from having to go through it all again.

A Safer Car

The cleaner your car is, the safer it is for you and other road users and pedestrians. When you are driving, you need a full and unobstructed view from all your windows and your mirrors, inside and out. Your tyres also need to be completely clean to ensure they can grip the road surface properly. If any of these areas are very dirty because you haven’t cleaned your car for a while, you might not be able to see issues in the road, and even if you can, you might not be able to avoid them because of your tyres. 

Even the inside of your car should be kept clean. Dust can cause allergies, and a symptom of allergies is sneezing. When you take your eyes off the road to sneeze, an accident can occur. Plus, old water bottles and food wrappers and other rubbish can roll around and get stuck under your pedals. If you have to brake hard, it can even cause damage to your car or you.  

First Impressions, Perception & Value

If you want to sell your car or trade it in for a new vehicle, even if you’re not planning to do it right now, keeping it clean is crucial. As we’ve said, the cleaner your car is, the less likely it is that any damage will occur. When you come to sell it, there will be less rust, fewer scratches, and the paint will look brighter. 

If you are selling your car right now, cleaning it will help immensely. Anyone coming to see a dirty car will immediately assume you don’t take care of it, which may not be the case at all. They will either decide against the car, or they will try to negotiate a lower price. If you want the best price, keep the vehicle clean. 

Does having a more expensive car put you at higher risk of bad driving behaviour?

Research by Professor Jan-Erik Lönnqvist researched Audi, BMW and Mercedes drivers road behaviour measuring it against the Psychological construct of personality dimensions (Five Factor Model).

“Personality traits explain the desire to own high-status products, and the same traits also explain why such people break traffic regulations more frequently than others,” says Lönnqvist. “But we also found that those whose personality was deemed more disagreeable were more drawn to high-status cars. These are people who often see themselves as superior and are keen to display this to others.”

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