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11 Things Your Car Says About Your Personality

Those LED headlights and cherry red paint job aren't just fun, they're making a statement about who you are as a person. Read on to learn more.

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Camogli, Liguria, Italy - April 13, 2016 Ferrari California T Handling Speciale
Pavlo Baliukh/ Shutterstock

Have a cherry red sports car? You love taking financial risks

Certain cars are designed to make everyone look—think splashy sports cars, very expensive cars, or anything bright red. While driving this type of car will get you some positive attention from others, it also shows you’re willing to risk getting negative attention as well, says Susan M. Henney, Ph.D, professor of psychology at the University of Houston-Downtown. Studies have shown that red cars and sports cars are the most likely to be pulled over by police and targeted by thieves, so by owning one you’re saying that the attention from others is worth the risk of losing your investment to tickets or theft. By the way, these are the top 10 cars most likely to be stolen.

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Minivans rear
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Drive a three-row minivan? You love a crowd

It isn’t the convenience, safety, or storage space that makes the minivan the ultimate mom-mobile (although those help!) but rather the sheer number of kids you can pack into those things, Henney says.”These cars show that you define yourself by your relationship to children and the more kids are in your car, the better you feel about yourself,” she explains. “It tells the world, ‘I’m the carpool mom. I’m valued and important.'”

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Saratov, Russia - October 23, 2012: White car Honda Civic with xenon headlights fast drive on road at night
Ivan Kurmyshov/ Shutterstock

Have ultra-bright LED headlights? You put yourself first

The newest headlights use LED technology to get a brighter glow—several factors brighter than even the “brights” on regular halogen headlights—while using much less power. While this can be a boon on dark roads, it can also be a safety hazard as they blind other drivers. It’s become such a problem that some cities are considering legislation to ban them. By using these lights you’re simply saying, “My comfort is more important than your safety” which shows a real lack of empathy and concern for others, Henney says.

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Animated picture of newlyweds on the black car
Jurij Krupiak/Shutterstock

Sporting those stick-figure family window stickers? You’re family-oriented

Most safety experts agree: Those popular “this is my family” stickers are straight up dangerous. They share your family composition, what your kids’ names are, how old they are, their hobbies, and even your dog’s name—all information that criminals can use to target you or your children. Yet despite these warnings, parents continue to display them prominently. Why? “It’s a way of establishing your place in the social hierarchy, declaring your status, and showing others you’re superior to their families,” Henney says.

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Edinburgh, Scotland 25 March 2017 - pro-EU demo and march celebrating the 60th anniversary of the EU.
Complexli/ Shutterstock

Displaying a sports team’s logo? You’re the life of the party

Identifying yourself publicly with a sports team—whether that’s through a jersey, a hat, or a bumper sticker—is an easy way to feel like you’re part of that crowd, Henney says. “People take on the characteristics of their favorite teams,” she says. Your favorite team is a winner? A scrappy underdog? An up-and-coming all-star? Then, by extension, so are you. And it’s not just sports jerseys: Check out these 10 unexpected things your clothes are saying about you.

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Big Foot Car
Philip Lange/ Shutterstock

Drive a tricked-out pickup? You may lack confidence

Contrary to popular belief, confident and self-assured people don’t drive the biggest, flashiest cars; rather, the bigger and more attention-seeking your car is, the less confident you likely feel, says Henney. “They’re compensating for feeling a lack of power somewhere by making up for it in their car,” she explains. “Why else would you have ‘Grave Digger’ as your car?” Normal drivers–this one-second tire test can save your life. 

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RIGA, APRIL 2016 - A Lexus RX450h hybrid luxury SUV is parked near river with a view of freight port in the background
Karlis Dambrans/ Shutterstock

Drive an SUV? Safety is a top concern

SUVs literally dominate the roadway, taking up more space than most cars, and lifting the driver up higher than everyone else. Combine that with the fact that they’re often used to ferry children around and you have someone who’s very worried about being safe if they end up in an accident. Want to stay safe regardless of your car type? Make sure you’re doing these 72 simple car maintenance tips.

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NEW YORK- MARCH 19, 2016: Old presidential election 2008 Obama Biden bumper sticker
Leonard Zhukovsky/ Shutterstock

Have a political bumper sticker? You’re outspoken

Slapping a political bumper sticker on your car is an easy way to share your political views, but it also shows that you feel like you’re on the outside of mainstream culture—regardless of what party or politician it is supporting, Henney says. These people derive satisfaction from being “outsiders” or part of a righteous minority, which is why they feel compelled to share it so publicly, she explains.

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graduation cap with gold tassel on blackboard background
Kim Reinick/Shutterstock

Have an honor roll bumper sticker? You’re constantly competing with others

It’s awesome that your kid made the honor roll (or whatever recent achievement they’ve done) but you can show them how proud you are by simply telling them. Putting that information on a bumper sticker is solely for the purpose of informing everyone else. “It’s a way of establishing your superiority by comparing yourself to others,” Henney explains.

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Air freshener hanging in the car on green natural background
Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Got an exotic car freshener? Individuality is very important to you

There are practically as many car scents as there are people, and the one you choose to fill your car with can say something about your personality. Whether you love the outdoors, wish you were on the beach, or dream of drying your laundry in the sunshine, manufacturers have designed these scents to play into your sense of individuality. Find out what your favorite scent reveals about your personality.

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SUV packed quickly with belongings thrown in for move home from college
CLS Digital Arts/Shutterstock

Does trash spill out every time you open the door? You’re a multi-tasker

If your car is overrun with junk mail, food wrappers, pop cans, old socks, and other detritus it could be a physical manifestation of your mental state, according to psychologist Nicole Cutts in Business2Community. “No matter what you drive, the way you maintain your car, inside and out, gives people some insight into your personality,” she says. And if it’s a mess then you may be telling others that you’re scattered, super-busy, a slob, or don’t care about health and cleanliness. Cleaning your car doesn’t have to be daunting though.

Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen is a health, lifestyle and fitness expert and teacher. She covers all things wellness for Reader’s Digest and The Healthy. With dual masters degrees in information technology and education, she has been a journalist for 17 years and is the author of The Great Fitness Experiment. She lives in Denver with her husband, five kids and three pets.