How About a Trip to the Original Tunnel of Love … a Car Wash.
Our cars… we name them, converse with them, adorn them with trinkets, and involve them in some of life's most romantic moments. A survey among U.S. car owners by the International Carwash Association (ICA)* found that 84 percent feel affection or emotion for their cars, equaling an estimated 116 million smitten drivers. **
About one in 10 car owners (11 percent) say they've kissed or made out in a car wash. And, Americans with children are more likely to have smooched at the car wash than those without children, signaling perhaps that the car wash is one of the few places offering some valuable moments alone.
Talking about American drivers romantic habits, nearly two in five car owners get their cars professionally washed before a date. Men (27 percent) are more likely to get their cars washed to impress a member of the opposite sex than women (11 percent).
Talk About Tough Love
Romance aside, more than half of all car owners wash their cars less than once a month, and 16 percent say they never wash their cars.
"People feel car love, but don't necessarily practice it, "says Mr. Car Love, a.k.a. Mark Thorsby, executive director of the International Carwash Association. "That's why I'm recommended car wash gift certificates in place of flowers or candy this Valentines Day!
"Flowers die and candy adds to the waistline, but a professional car wash will protect the investment you've made in your car," said Thorsby. "Bird droppings, acid rain and salt can harm your car's finish in just a couple of days. If you don't wash these offenders off of your car ASAP, you are risking damage."
According to auto trade-in experts such as Kelley Blue Book, cars in excellent mechanical condition and appearance can be valued at $1,500 higher than those in good or fair condition. "So, a professional car wash is the Valentines Day gift that truly keeps on giving," said Thorsby. "In addition, a professional car wash is much better for the environment than an at-home wash, which can use up to twice as much water and pollute local lakes, rivers and streams."
Other Highlights from the ICA Car Love Survey:
- 38 percent have had their car play a significant role in a wedding ceremony or honeymoon, or knew someone else who did.
- 36 percent decorate the interior with trinkets such as fuzzy dice, steering wheel covers, etc.
- 34 percent made a life decision in their cars.
- 26 percent were told they were loved for the first time in a car, or knew someone else who was.
- 22 percent displayed pictures of their cars.
- 19 percent "hang out" on their car rooftop.
- 9 percent conceived a child in a car, or knew someone else who did.
- 4 percent have celebrated their car's birthday and/or anniversary.
- 4 percent have been named after a car (or knew someone else who had).
The International Carwash Association (ICA) is a non-profit trade association serving 3,000 businesses in the United States, Canada and overseas. Membership includes car wash operators, equipment manufacturers, distributors, and related suppliers. ICA members represent approximately 25,000 car wash and car care locations in North America.
* Ketchum Global Research Network conducted the survey of 770 Americans on behalf of the International Carwash Association in February 2004.
**Based on U.S. State Motor Vehicle Registration figures, 2001.