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What Do Dreams About Cars Mean?

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Factors to Consider in Car Dreams

In waking life, cars are typically seen in one of two ways: status symbols or utilitarian devices.

The dreaming world, however, sees cars a bit differently. Our mind's favorite use of cars in dreams is using them as stand-ins for ourselves. Our dreams take advantage of the similarity between the way cars ferry our bodies with the way our bodies ferry around all that we cannot see that makes us, well, us.

In dreams about cars, the most crucial aspects of the car itself are:

  • The car's condition (e.g., mint or rust bucket).
  • The car's color.
  • Whether the car is one we are familiar with in the waking world or if it exists solely in dream life.
  • Any mechanical defects, such as faulty brakes, a smoking engine, broken mirrors, steering wheel malfunction, inoperable lights.
  • Car out of control
  • Speed
  • Fuel level

Outside the car itself, the next place to go for meaning is by asking questions about our relationship to the dream car. For example:

  • Who is driving the car?
  • Where are you (e.g., front seat, back seat, passenger, locked in the trunk)?
  • If someone else is driving the car, how to you feel about that person?

Finally, take stock of the car's relationship to the other dream symbols. Are you driving up and down hills, near water, in the city? Is the drive smooth or perilous? How about you? Are you alert or are you somehow asleep but still driving?

We will cover the questions above in this article as well as have a look a one of the most common dreams involving cars: car crashes.

So, let's start our engines and put you in the driver's seat of your own car dream interpretation!

Car Crashes and Wordplay

Dreams often employ wordplay or symbolic placement of symbols together to evoke a play on words. Unfortunately, the wordplay aspect of dream interpretation is often overlooked.

Look at the image above. If that image appeared in a dream, it would be wise to ask a lot of questions about what that "GOOD YEAR" sign in the background is communicating. Are things going well? Is it a "good year"? How about the year the car in the dream symbolizes? Is there some event from the past that is asking for notice, an anniversary date that feels like a car crash?

Here's a person example of how dreams love communicating in wordplay.

Following an intense life experience filled with brutal emotions, I once went through a period of recurrent dreams involving crashing into some body of water. I always salvaged myself and my car. No obvious damage was done. No one would know the wreck happened unless I told someone.

And yet, I woke every morning panicked and terrified the wreck would be discovered.

Water is typically interpreted as a symbol for the emotions. And cars, as we'll see later, are symbols of ourselves. So my recurrent dream involved wrecks and water; that is, wrecks and emotions.

Do you already see what it took me forever to find?

The dream couldn't be clearer: I felt like I was an "emotional wreck" and I wanted to keep that fact secret from those around me in my new life. Once I deciphered my dream and gave myself permission to heal without pretense the road to health clears and the dreams vanished.

When interpreting your dreams, look at symbols separately and think a little outside of the box. Never discount names of people, places, or situations. Dreams do not need complex plot lines to convey meaning.

Daddy's Gonna Pay for Your Crashed Car

Car Wrecks and Anxiety Dreams

Anxiety dreams are the dreams we experience when we're entering into or going through a major life change. When we get married, change jobs, or move, for example, our dreams may turn into nothing more than epic catastrophic extravaganzas such as:

If you are in the middle of some sort of waking world life transition, you might discover that crash dreams have become a nightly feature of your dream life. These dreams are expected and normal. They are a way of expressing that there truly aren't words to express the emotional turmoil we're in.

Remember, most dreams are not prophetic and anxiety is only an emotion. Feel what you feel and allow the feeling to be—even if that feeling is one of discomfort. Let yourself be uncomfortable and look back on this time as a time when you survived fear and weren't hobbled by it.

Out of Control

Car Dreams Can Be About Control

Do you have dreams where you find you can't control your vehicle?

The dreams don't have to involve mechanical failure. Common control issues in dreams are:

  • Driving with eyes closed.
  • Being unable to open your eyes while driving.
  • Driving asleep.

Dreams of driving while one is not fully awake or not able to open one's eyes can actually point to a situation where one is either completely unaware of a danger or is refusing to look at something they do not want to see.

For example, a spouse may have an intuition that their partner is unfaithful, may be aware of the signs, but intentionally not looking at what is right in front of them. We often refuse to look at things which we know are painful and over which we feel we have no control.

Remember, not opening our eyes does nothing to change the sight! What is is what is. Blinding ourselves to reality does not change anything. We can never control others. We often cannot control circumstances around us. We can, however, always control ourselves or at least get back in the driver's seat when we lose it.

What Is the Condition of Your Dream Car?

To get at the meaning of your automobile dream, have a look at the condition of the vehicle. A few ideas are below. Which car does the one in your dream most resemble? Or, more importantly, which of the cars below do you most identify with?

Rust Bucket

Are the cars in your dreams old and rusty?

Rust is an unfortunate chemical reaction that occurs slowly, gradually, almost imperceptibly right before our eyes. Oxidation works and wears down material and by the time we notice the damage, the damage is done.

If you are dreaming of rusty vehicles, the dreams might be communicating that there are areas of neglect in your life that you feel are harmless but which are, nonetheless, silently wearing you down.

Alternatively, rusty vehicles could be expressions of how you are feeling. Do you feel old and worn out? Have you been through period that has left you feeling useless?

As stated before, feelings are just that: feelings. Feelings of uselessness can come after loss and may symbolize a period of grieving.

Abandoned Vehicle

Are you dreaming of abandoned vehicles?

Abandoned vehicles can indicate feeling that we have been abandoned or they may also mean that we feel we have abandoned some vital part of our lives.

Where is the abandoned vehicle? Is it by the side of the road? It is in some isolated location? Is the vehicle one you own currently or have owned? Or is the vehicle one that belongs to someone else? Who is the person who owns the car? Do you feel you have abandoned them or they have left you behind?

Answering all of the above questions honestly will help you get at the heart of your dream.

Abandonment, feeling disposable or easily discarded, is one of the most painful emotions we experience. This is especially painful when the abandonment involves a relationship in which we have given our hearts or if the relationship is one where abandonment is meant to be impossible (e.g., when a parent abandons a child).

Try to remember that your value, your worth, the spark of who you are is not predicated on the absence of another person's ability to feel and act with love.

New Car

Is the car in your dream a shiny, new car—perhaps the car of your dreams?

This is a wonderfully positive symbol that you are feeling similarly. This can be a sign that you are on the "right road," that the hard work you've done on yourself on the inside is now showing results in the outer world.

And that is what the point to all the hard work on the inside is all about! We often think of ourselves a walking dichotomies, a spirit vs a body.

But the truth is we are one being and as devoted those of the spiritually minded may be to the intangible aspects of ourselves, we must give our bodies their due.

Imagine a house: those passing by the house see it from the outside. Those living inside the house see it from the inside. But the house is still the house--inside and out.

Carl Jung puts it this way:

"The spirit is the life of the body seen from within, and the body the outward manifestation of the life of the spirit-the two being really one."

Stranded and Broken Down

Is the car in your dream broken down or in a state of disrepair?

A broken down car in a dream can mirror a feeling that we are "broken down" in waking life.

Car parts wear out, systems go faulty, and things break no matter how well we keep our cars serviced. Sooner or later we are going to experience similar times ourselves. Sooner or later we will go through illness or take care of someone else who is sick.

Emotional upheaval, which applies to times that are exciting and joyous just as much as it applies to times that are trying, can leave us feeling like we have lost our bearings or run out of gas by the side of the road. Sometimes even success leaves us feeling lost. All transition is traversing the unknown and the unknown is the scariest and most distressing place to be in.

Dreams of cars broken down can symbolize a feeling that we're stranded--that no one is there for us at precisely the time we needed them most.

Look at your waking world and assess how stranded you actually are. Sometimes we get so focused on getting assistance from the place we feel it should come (our husbands, wives, families, or friends) that we lose sight of the fact that we have other options, other ways and means of finding and getting the help we need.

Think of your situation like this: even if you prefer Jack's Towing to Jane's, if Jack doesn't answer your call, you'll always ring Jane if you find yourself stranded by the side of the road in the middle of the night. Find a Jane in the waking world. Don't spend a night in fear waiting for a Jack to give you a lift.

Passive-aggressiveness is not a new term. The phrase originated as a way to describe the behaviour of soldiers in World War II who found ways to express their anger at being subordinates without facing charges of outright insubordination. What does passive-aggressiveness have to do with car dreams? Read on and you'll know!

Where Are You?

Sometimes the key to interpreting a car dream comes from looking at where you are in the dream. Are you driving? If not, who is? Are in a passenger in your own vehicle? If so, are you in the front seat or the back? Here are some ideas about what it means when you're dream driving.

You Are Driving

If you're driving and things are going fine, this is a good sign that you are in control of your life. If you're driving and the car is filled with passengers, this can mean that you are the driving force behind some project.

Someone Else Is Driving

Look at who is driving because this is metaphorically the person who is, for the moment, a primary force in your life.

Someone else behind the wheel is not necessarily a bad thing. When we go on long road trips, we take turns behind the wheel. If you've been in a situation for a "long haul" relinquishing the wheel for a little while may indicate you're allowing someone you trust to momentarily help you travel the road you're on.

However, if the person is someone known for domineering behavior, it will be wise to get back in the driver's seat and regain control of the wheel. Not everyone wants to take us where we want to go. Sometimes others wait for an opportunity to steer us off our paths and hijack our vehicles to get them where they want to go--while we pay for the gas ourselves!

Backseat Driving

If you're in the backseat giving orders, this may indicate some passive-aggressive behaviour is occurring.

What is passive-aggressiveness?

Passive-aggressiveness behaviour is aggression expressed in an indirect or subtle manner. Passive aggressiveness can be both verbal and non-verbal. It is a way of expressing anger, rage, or even annoyance a person feels entitled to but it is delivered in a way they hope will free them of the consequence a direct interaction carries.

In fact, the term "passive-aggressive" became popular in the Second World War. It was a phrased used to describe soldiers who could not risk outright insubordination acting against a superior's orders in ways difficult to prove worthy of a charge.

While passive-aggression may feel satisfying or like some kind of retribution against someone who deserves more, or it may feel like a defiant act of one upsmanship, in reality it is an acknowledgement that another person is our superior and we are in positions of submission, not places of power. No matter what kind of subtle acts of disobedience soldiers in the war engaged in, those acts never transformed them from soldiers into officers.

If you are having dreams of sitting in the backseat criticizing the way another person is driving or telling them where to go, or being angry about the way they're driving but doing nothing but feeling angry about the situation, those dreams may be "wake up calls" that a similar situation is happening in the waking world.

Car Troubles

Many dreams involve some sort of car trouble such as failing breaks, dead batteries, and running out of gas. Here are some ideas on what those symbols might mean.

Faulty Brakes

This symbol typically means that we feel that some undesirable situation has moved beyond our ability to stop it. We may feel panic and guilt, primarily because, since we are in the driver's seat, we feel the situation is our responsibility.

There is also, a possibly positive aspect to dreams like this but it will depend on the dreamer's ability to engage in unflinching honesty with themself.

Look carefully at the dream. Is there a reason the brakes need to be used? Is there reason the car needs to stop like danger of collision, or blowing through a stop sign?

If not, this dream might indicate an unconscious fear of moving forward unfettered toward a goal we want, be are afraid to pursue. The unconscious could be telling the dreamer, "Nope. I enjoy this ride and I'm not putting on the brakes no matter what!" If this is the case, then set aside the fear, sit back, and let your conscious mind join with the unconscious and take the ride of your life!

Dead Battery

Are dreams of going out to start your car only to find the battery is drained plaguing you? If so, this could be a sign that your dream really isn't bothering much with symbolism. There are few ways a dream can state more clearly that you are feeling like the life is being drained away from you, that you just can't get started in life anymore.

Take an inventory of what is draining you and keep in mind that in the waking world, car batteries typically fail due to some kind of neglect. We forget to turn the lights off, we leave a door partially opened, etc.

Batteries are also drained, ironically, from sitting still. Newton's first law of motion involves motion and inertia. A body in motion tends to stay active. But a body at rest will remain that way unless something acts on it to put it in motion. It is easy to fall into a rut; it is difficult, without help, to climb out of one.

If you're dreaming of dead car batteries, don't fall prey to status quo bias. Find help, find some jumper cables, recharge, and drive off into the sunset!

Running on Empty

Running out of gas is a common dream symbol and stands in not just for a lack of energy or of running out of the fuel that drives our lives, it is a stand in for issues that we typically have control over.

Unless a car's gas gauge is broken, there's a hole in the gas tank, or we're in financial trouble, there is little reason for a car to run out of gas. In fact, cars don't actually simply "run out of gas." We run our cars out of gas when we fail to fuel them. And we fail fueling them despite the fact that we knew full well what was going to happen if we didn't make a pit stop.

Why don't we stop to refuel in the waking world?

Is it optimism bias—we're just certain we can make it because we refuse to believe the bad news that yes, despite being late to work, I am also going to have to take time to refuel?

Is it desperation based on lack? Do we literally not have the money to refuel the car and decide taking the chance of running out of gas on the road to work is better than not showing up at all?

Look at your waking world and see if you can find something of a metaphor or some situation that compares to running out of gas and rectify the situation before it's too late. Remember, once the gas is gone, it's gone. No car runs on empty and no car restarts on its own once the gas is drained.

Car Colors

Never forget to examine colors in a dream. A car's color can give more depth and nuance to a dream's meaning. In fact, the car's color can sometimes be the key factor to interpreting a dream's meaning.

Look to dream dictionaries for hints to color symbolism, but always use your own personal associations with a color and your own lived mythology inform that a color's meaning for you.

For example, it doesn't matter if you live in the Western world where the color white as a symbol of purity when you come from the East where white often symbolizes death. (Think about it. Whiteness often equates to a loss of blood and blood is life.) You are always the authority on what your dreams mean, after all, you create them!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Madailein Aisling Ireland