• Many Gen Z and millennial car owners are willing to repair their own car to save a few bucks, according to a study done by consulting agency Censuswide.
  • By comparison, around 82% of baby boomers surveyed said they would rather take their car to a professional mechanic.
  • Smaller, less complex repair jobs like replacing shattered wing mirrors, battery issues, and interior improvements were the most popular jobs for home mechanics across generations.

    Legacy news media outlets will tell you that Generation Z and millennials aren’t interested in driving. And there is data supporting that point, with only 25% of 16-year-olds getting their driver’s license in 2020 as compared to 40% in 1997, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Here at Autoweekwe understand that our millennial and Gen Z staffers may be outliers among their peers, but we are a bit skeptical of these claims.

    Anecdotal evidence tells us that plenty of young car enthusiasts exist, but we admit our circles are filled with enthusiasts with the same passion. However, a telling set of data proves that young people are at least more willing to repair cars themselves as compared to generations prior.

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    In a study conducted by Censuswide, researchers found over 25% of millennials and around 23% of Gen Z drivers are willing to repair their own cars. By comparison, around 18% of baby boomers surveyed said they were willing to do it themselves. Keep in mind, these statistics are coming from the United Kingdom, which isn’t as car friendly as Germany or even America.

    Analysis of aftermarket eBay purchases shows the most common aftermarket items sold in the UK were fresh door mirrors, electrical components, and interior pieces like seats or stereos. Around 20% of all motorists surveyed in the eBay study said they would consider replacing a mirror given its relative simplicity.

    Millennials were driven to repair their own vehicles not by intrigue or passion but rather by necessity, according to the UK study. The costs of paying a professional repair shop to do the work exceeded what most millennials were willing to spend. Here in the US, federal Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that the cost of car repair increased 23% year-over-year.

    september 1975 motorist in the left background waits as an employee of an auto emission inspection station in downtown cincinnati tries to locate why the vehicle failed its inspection091975

    An Ohio emissions inspection dating back to 1975.

    HUM ImagesGetty Images

    The wealth of knowledge available on the internet has deputized DIY mechanics of all ages to attempt repairs that might otherwise require dealership service intervention. Specifically, the early 2000s’ advent of brand or model-specific forums has made for a type of crowd-sourced knowledge that keeps older models with fading service manuals on the road. Still, it never hurts to follow the guidance of a proper Bentley or Haynes manual or to admit when you’re in over your head.

    In fairness to the baby boomers surveyed, crawling underneath leaking and rusting vehicles isn’t a particularly facile task. Plus, the boomer generation grew up when car ownership and repairs were arguably taken more seriously and created a vibrant culture of home mechanics.

    However, the cars of the 1970s were far less complex than modern vehicles and needed frequent attention—for leaks, for example. As a result, over 75% of boomers surveyed today say they would rather consult a mechanic as part of their vehicle ownership experience.

    Crucially, it’s important to remember how hands-on automotive repair really is and the importance of word-of-mouth knowledge within the industry. First-hand experience is the best way to learn, and having a mechanic on hand will ensure that fewer jobs go wrong. As opposed to dividing generations by DIY prowess, it’s worth considering how the home mechanics of the baby boomers and Generation X eras can help younger, less experienced car owners and vice versa.

    Do you work on your own car? Did your parents work on their cars? Share your DIY experiences in the comments below.