GEICO Celebrates Name Your Car Day

If you’re anything like the average American, you spend more time in the car each day than you do around the family dinner table. So perhaps it’s no surprise that many of us name our cars as though they were members of the family—an act that’s led to the October 2 being designated as Name Your Car Day.

But just why do we name our cars?

“We name our cars because it gives us a sense of control over them,” says Dr. Carole Lieberman, a psychiatrist in Beverly Hills, Calif. “Most of us are not mechanics who understand all the inner workings of this big piece of machinery that we depend on to protect us. All we know is that our lives are in the hands of something that roars.”

Naming cars makes us feel safer because it humanizes them—and humans behave in ways we can anticipate. According Nicolas Epley, a professor at the University of Chicago, once we’ve named a thing, from a hurricane to a ship, we start seeing intentionality in its behavior. So when things go right—“The Beast” gets us safely home over icy roads or “The Silver Bullet” dashes up a big hill with ease—we appreciate the car’s performance as though it were a personal favor. We start thinking of our cars not just as companions, but as trustworthy and highly competent. “My daughter named her car Jeeves, after the fictional valet,” adds Dr. Lieberman. “She finds great fun in telling him, ‘Take me home, Jeeves!’”

Strangely enough, even when something goes wrong, we don’t lose faith in cars that we’ve named. One study put drivers in self-driving car simulators that got into an unavoidable fender bender. When the car was not anthropomorphized, the drivers wanted to punish it for the accident; when the car was given a name, gender and voice, the drivers still rated its competence highly and reported more positive driving experiences in spite of the (simulated) collision.

If you’re looking for a good name for your ride, start in one of the three basic categories:

• A favorite human name (Betsy, Suzy and Fred are popular ones)
• A spin on the car’s actual brand name (Corey the Corolla, Bug the Beetle, Minnie the MINI Cooper)
• A comment on the car’s appearance (Old Blue, Big Red, Green Machine)

Or take inspiration from some of our readers’ favorites:

Is your buddy borrowing your baby? Here are some important questions to ask before you let anyone behind the wheel of your vehicle.

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    Leave a comment

  1. David says,

    We got my wife her dream car. A very safe and intelligent car. She loves to sport around in her new BMW, calling her ‘Sportelicious’!

  2. Cathy says,

    I just bought a Honda CRV and was anxious in feeling comfortable in it since it appeared bigger than my Tan Malibu which is named Blondie. Upon receiving new plates at the DMV, the first letters are HAL, That was a sign from my dad that all would be fine. My new ride is “Honda Hal”. Thanks Pop xoxo

  3. Cynthia says,

    My new, sparkling red Camaro’s name is Lucy. I call my old Dodge the “doggy dodge” cause that’s what I take them to the vet & give them rides in. My husband thinks I’m nuts for naming our cars! Named his new Mustang Cobra the Silver Bullet for obvious reason. His 65 Mustang I named Sally..obvious as well.

  4. Shirley says,

    I have a little Toyota Echo and it looks a bit like a mouse. My car is named TUTTER after the mouse in Bear in the Big Blue House kids show.

  5. TARIQ says,

    SINCE MY CAR IS AN 2000 FORD FOCUS. ITS ALREADY 16 YRS OLD SO IN CAR YRS ITS REALLY 70 SO I NAMED HER SYLVIA AKA WILLAMINA AFTER A VERY SPEACIAL PERSON. SO FAR SHE HAVE BEEN A BLESSING.

  6. Gwen says,

    My hardtop convertible bmw is a deep berry color. It makes a statement without me saying a word. I call it Hush-hush

  7. jay says,

    My 91 Harley Davidson is candy brandy metallic and toasted amounted coconut her name is Amy she’s Going for a fresh up with wash and wax

  8. Salina Arrington says,

    Hello
    I own my first white car a Kia Optima…she is bright white so I named her Snow White, Snow for short.

  9. Lakota says,

    My sweet little Prius is Suzie! Best car I’ve ever owned! Phil died after a very long and rough life….RIP Phil.

  10. Gail T. says,

    My van’s name is “Berry”, now that it is faded it’s Raspberry. It’s over 25 years & still going. It’s my very Berry!

  11. Nicki Clark says,

    That was the very first thing I did when I got my car – sent out the mass text with her pic and a couple thoughts. Settled on Sophie which is perfect for her since she’s a little 2006 cherry red Ford Focus with heavly tinted windows( a must when you live in the desert).