Collision repairers are well aware that the average age
of vehicles on the road today is near 10 years old, which doesn’t bode well for
business. But a new survey is even more discouraging in that it revealed that
consumers with vehicles 10-years-old or more will keep their cars another five
years, on average.
The survey also revealed that 52 percent of consumers
intend to keep their cars five years or more.
Back when the "Cash for Clunkers" program was
beng considered by the Federal Government, Chuck Sulkala, executive director of
the National Auto Body Council and owner of Acme Auto Body & Paint in
Jamaica Plains, Mass., had this to say about older vehicles: "We repair
new vehicles, not ‘clunkers.’ Our business will improve when the average age of
vehicles on the road gets younger, not older. Newer cars get repaired, older
ones get totaled or never fixed."
While these statistics don’t bode well for the collision
repair industry, they’re viewed as positive by automotive service providers,
which may reinforce that collision repair facilities would be wise to increase
their mechanical service offerings.
In a survey on www.bodyshopbusiness.com in which repairers were asked if they expanded their mechanical services to help their bottom lines in this poor economy, responses were as follows:
Don’t offer mechanical services 29%
The NPD survey indicated that to keep their vehicles on the
road, the majority of consumers are expecting repairs or maintenance work in
2011. Of those consumers expecting car repairs in 2011, more than 61 percent
said they will have a professional do all the work. This percentage is up from
56 percent a year ago. Of those do-it-yourself (DIY) consumers, 34 percent said
they expect their DIY activity to be the same or less in 2011 than it was in
To learn how to repair their cars, consumers have
historically turned to friends and family, repair manuals and mechanics, but
today the Internet is growing as a how-to source for repairs. NPD’s aftermarket
survey finds that 42 percent of the outlook survey respondents who plan major
repairs in 2011 say they would look to the Internet, including YouTube and
social media outlets, to learn to do the work nearly the same percentage who
use the repair manual.
Among those who say they will do their own vehicle
repairs in 2011:
Where would you go to learn how to do repairs on your
Vehicle Repair Manual 46%
Internet (including online video and social networks) 42%
Store Personnel 16%
SOURCE: The NPD Group/2011 Aftermarket Consumer Outlook
"The new reality is that consumers are keeping their
cars longer, and those cars will need repairs and maintenance," said David
Portalatin, industry analyst for NPD’s aftermarket unit. "For companies
providing professional repair and maintenance work, this presents a strong
growth opportunity. For companies seeking ways to assist consumers and promote
DIY activity, the Internet will be an important tool in 2011."