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Dreams of driving or being in a car: what do they mean?

Dreams of driving or being in a car: what do they mean?

The symbol of the car can relate to our decision-making and how these choices influence outcomes in waking life. Of key importance in such dreams is to look at who is driving the car, what the driving experience is like and where you are going.
It is common to have dreams where you are in a car that somebody else is driving. You may be in the passenger seat or even the back seat.  Dreams of driving usually relate to a situation in life where you are not in full control of the outcomes that will affect you personally. Somebody else is steering the direction of your life.

In your dream, you may seek and even achieve taking over control of the car. This can symbolise you taking back control of your own destiny in waking life. You may wish to do so. This dream could be playing out that desire and building your confidence to do so, or you may have just recently taken this control and the dream is exploring the impacts of this new change of circumstances.

For example, you may dream of your parents driving the car if you are considering education and choosing a course because your parents will pay for it and its not the one you would have chosen yourself. But dreams can play out even more subtle choices we make. Even if your parents have not specifically asked or made you do anything, you may feel a deep desire to please them and make life choices that reflect this rather than be true to your own authentic self.

We can sometimes do this in relationships, too. Giving up things that are important to us because we feel it will make a partner happy. If you have this kind of dream, your subconscious is likely exploring your feelings around relinquishing control of your own destiny. It may be suggesting ways you can take back control of your own life. Sometimes being assertive and recognising your own value is enough — and your subconscious will try to help you to be brave enough to recognise that no relationship is worth losing yourself for.

Sometimes dreams of driving where someone else is driving the car can cause anxiety or fear. You may feel the person driving is being reckless, doesn’t know how to drive, or maybe they don’t know the direction of where you wish to go. This can relate to areas of your life where somebody else is making decisions that you believe are not in your best interests, but you have not been unable to change their mind or alter their influence. This can be a subconscious urging to consider where you are headed in life and who is calling the shots. If you are not happy with the direction of your life, these dreams encourage you to think about how you might begin to take the wheel of your own destiny.

Other times, we may feel completely at ease with someone else driving. This is not always a bad thing. While self-determination and independence are important qualities of a satisfying life, they are not the only ones. A dream where someone else is taking responsibility for driving may come as a relief if you have lived a life of careful control and responsibility, taking care of the outcomes not only of your own life but of others, too. If your children have grown up and left home and your partner decides they want to move house, or for the two of you to go traveling somewhere, you may feel relief to not have to make all the decisions and let someone else choose what happens next for a change.

Dreams of driving the car encourage us to take the wheel and steer our lives in the direction we choose. There is also risk in this choice. By driving our own car through life, we must accept full responsibility for where we are going and the safety and enjoyment of the journey. There is no one else to blame. If you feel nervous about driving in your dream or like you have forgotten (or never knew) how to drive, you may be coming to the end of a period of your life where you have relied on other people to support you or make decisions on your behalf and feel a little intimidated at having to rely on your own resources to get by. Such dreams may occur at the end of a relationship, when leaving home, beginning a new job, starting a family, or taking on some other responsibility.

Other dreams of driving may involve the car going too fast, being out of control, not having brakes, or missing something else vital such as lights in the dark or a horn to honk to warn of danger. If you have a dream like this, there is a good chance that something in your own waking life feels out of control in some way. This may be a habit you wish to change. For example, a car with a smoking exhaust that has no brakes could relate to a desire to give up smoking but feeling unable to do so, or indicate a deep awareness that there is some other lifestyle change you feel you need to make. A dream of driving too fast and erratically may symbolise working too hard and playing too hard, while not taking enough time to rest and take care of yourself. You may feel you are headed for burnout or even a crash if you do not literally slow down in life.

The passengers in the car can also be revealing. You may dream of family members or friends. While these people can be symbolic, sometimes their appearance in your car can illustrate how your choices have an impact on those around you. Dreaming of cars can also reveal responsibilities and how we can take people on a journey with us. If you’re driving dream is a disturbing one or causes you concern, it may be a subconscious need to reflect on making decisions with a consideration for people beyond yourself. Sometimes, though these dreams are not necessarily negative, they can be surprising.

You may find random people in the car with you who are unexpected. This can be a prompt to consider how interrelated we all are. They can also serve as a symbolic message. Dreaming of the local barista may be about how your choices affect his life when you buy a coffee every morning or it may be a symbol of the coffee provider being a source of energy and stimulation to you. You may consider what stimulates you in life to keep going in the direction you want.

Running out of petrol, being stuck in traffic, being bogged, or other scenarios where your car can’t move forward in the dream may be seen as an invitation to consider what obstacles are preventing you from achieving your goals in waking life. In various ways, they may symbolise your sense of being psychologically stuck. Running out of petrol may symbolise a lack of physical energy, or resources such as money, to keep you going.

Being stuck in traffic can relate to the difficulties other people bring, such as getting your own ideas to stand out in a crowd or a lack of momentum from others around you to support your goals. Being bogged may symbolise a sense of being in the wrong environment or not having the support you need (in a dream, a road to drive on). If you are bogged in mud in the dream, your own emotions may be slowing you down. Perhaps allowing them to flow will help release you. Being bogged in sand may relate more a sense that you have no solid foundations on which to start. You may feel you are not adapted to the terrain in life you find yourself in.

The state and type of your car can also reveal layers of meaning within a dream. If your car in the dream is falling apart and unreliable, this can be a subconscious indication that you need to take better care of yourself. Maybe you have been neglecting your health or distracted with other things in life and not giving your own plans and goals the attention and care they need to thrive. Alternatively, if you find yourself in a shiny car that drives well, you may be feeling a sense of satisfaction in waking life that you are diligently applying yourself to your goals and direction, and proud of your achievements so far.

Fast cars can symbolise a sense of confidence or material success. The power of these cars in dreams may also represent a growing sense of ability to influence your own outcomes in waking life. Being able to drive a car well, especially through obstacles or to win races, may be a symbol of a sense of mastery in your life. Dreams like this may occur after a difficult period that is now receding into the past. Coming out of a legal case, resolving a relationship problem to your satisfaction, achieving study results that enable you to pursue your chosen career, negotiating an important business deal, or achieving a financial settlement can all result in dreams of driving a car well. This is a great moment to stop and reflect on all that you have achieved.

Often we struggle through difficult periods in life then, as they pass, just move into the next stage of life without ever really thinking about it. Exciting or satisfying dreams of driving cars remind us to celebrate our wins along the way and to remember that all these accomplishments are necessary steps on the journey of a meaningful life.

Whether you get to your destination or not, and the ease of how you travel, are important considerations within a driving dream, as they relate to our sense of purpose and our direction in life. If you are lost in your dream, you may wish to take some time upon waking to consider what is most important to you, where you want to go in life and the steps you need to take to get there. Dreams like this often appear when we are confused, such as when making a career choice after schooling, or having a sense that a job or relationship is not quite right but not really knowing what needs to be done to improve the situation.

Dreams of driving a car may also include specific road signs. These can be fun to notice. Are your dream’s signs telling you to “proceed with caution”, “slow down” or find an alternative route? These can be some of the clearest messages from the subconscious, which, if you stop to reflect upon, can provide some readily recognisable life advice.

Often driving a car in a dream is simply one part of a longer-narrative dream. You may have many other symbols in your dreams such as obstacles, strange landscapes and a variety of characters. This is because our direction in life is rarely linear. Just as it is influenced by many other external factors, so too do our own choices impact on others.

Car dreams ask us who or what is driving us; what beliefs, motivations and behaviours. Causing us to wonder, do we want to keep them or do they need to change? Such dreams also ask us where we want to go. Are we headed in the right direction in our lives or do we need to change course? How do we want to get there? Do we need to slow down or hurry up? Do we need to take a more scenic route or stop and pick up something or someone that we may have lost or forgotten? Who can help us get where we want to achieve our goals? What warning signs (often literally road signs) do we need to pay attention to?

Driving the car in a dream asks us to consider where we want to go, how we can get there and who we need or would like to come along on the journey with us. While having a dream about driving can highlight where you feel distressed, confused or out of control, by making small changes in your life, you can take the wheel of your own destiny and drive your own life forward with happy confidence.

Want to learn more about what your dreams mean? Visit our Dreams archive page.