VSP News: Industry Insights, Episode 3

This week, bringing you the latest vehicle service trends and industry highlights is Sarah Shelstrom publisher of Professional Tool & Equipment News and Professional Distributor.

Find out more about the Fiscal Cliff impact on the automotive industry, why preventative maintenance should be top of mind for shops, according to JD Power and Associates research, and get a sneak peek of the hot new products coming in PTEN's April issue. 

The Fiscal Cliff Impact on the Automotive industry 

With a new legislative year among us, you can keep up with the issues, regulations and more at Taking TheHill.com. This online resource is maintained by ASA, which monitors legislative activity affecting repairers at the state and national levels.

If you are anything like me, you want to know anything and everything that may impact your business, especially political actions. But I don’t want to make it a full time job. So what better than finding experts that can give me the “Cliff’s Notes” version of how businesses may be impacted by Government decisions and ASA does an excellent job of doing so at TakingTheHill.com.

Most recently I read in Auto, Inc - the official magazine of the ASA - an article by Bob Redding, ASA’s Washington D.C. representative. In that article he outlined upcoming legislative matters and their expected impact on the automotive repair market. Redding says the tax provisions impacted by the Fiscal Cliff would only impact repair shops located in a community with strong military presence, and these shops could see significant cuts.

It’s been pretty clear that the debate on the Fiscal Cliff is not over; just delayed. The deal struck on January 1 avoided imminent disaster but still does little to solve the long-term fiscal issues that the country faces.

To see upcoming plans to review the nation's debt limit, spending cuts and tax provisions check out TakingTheHill.com.


A hot topic – as noted in the Professional Tool & Equipment News daily eNewsletter is the claim that MINI Cooper’s owner’s manual requires that only MINI dealers are to perform oil changes as a condition of the warranty. The Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) and three other aftermarket groups filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission claiming the MINI Cooper’s owner’s manual violates federal warranty law.

The letter states, “The clear purpose of BMW’s wording is to make consumers believe that using MINI Cooper dealers is their only option and that failure to use only them will merit penalty.”

Preventative Maintenance

If you aren’t already doing so, or maybe not doing as much as you can in the way of offering Preventative Maintenance to your customers, it’s time to reinstate it.

Here’s why: With the increasing average age of vehicles and growth in vehicle population it’s apparent vehicles are being manufactured to last longer. Consumers are seizing the opportunity and opting for maintnenance and repair versus buying a new car. With car sales still creeping on pre-recession levels and cars lasting longer, the U.S. motor vehicle aftermarket at end user sales is expected to grow 3.5 percent in 2013.

These facts are courtesy of the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association’s 2013 Factbook.

JD Power and Associates reported that the incidence of owners visiting a dealer service department for vehicle maintenance, rather than just repair, has increased in frequency, with 77 percent of vehicle owners indicating that their most recent dealer service visit was for maintenance, such as an oil change or tire rotation. This compares with 72 percent in 2012 and 63 percent in 2011.

JD Power and Associates senior director, Chris Sutton said, "Owner satisfaction is generally higher for maintenance than for repairs for several reasons, primarily because maintenance tends to be less expensive and time-consuming and can be scheduled and completed at the owner's convenience."

With motorists maintaining vehicles versus buying new it’s critical that independent repair shops re-instating regular preventative maintenance to their service offerings.

The J.D. Power Survey also found that the average bill for a visit to an independent service center was less expensive than a similar visit to a dealer's mechanic. On average, independent mechanics charged $44 for a visit, according to J.D. Power, while dealerships charge an average of $118. For motorists, this is essential cost savings. If you make sure your customers are aware you offer preventative maintenance, and that they can schedule this service at their convenience, you’ll increase your overall shop revenue.

April Sneak Peek

Coming in your April issue of Professional Tool & Equipment News: watch for a brand new A/C machine for hybrids from Mastercool, a new Snap-on Scan Tool, a Fluke Thermal imager, new extendable flexhead ratchet set from Steelman and a new inspection scope form A/C Delco. These are your April PTEN Tools of the Month. Full product details and an opportunity to inquire to the manufacturer is available on our website VehicleServicePros.com/directory in our Online Product Guide.

Battery Maintenance System

Pulse Tech Products Corporation has introduced a 12-station 12V lead-acid battery maintenance system designed for any service facility or shop that services multiple batteries and vehicles by keeping stored 12V lead-acid batteries factory fresh.

As a battery sits unused for periods of time—even a new battery—it can discharge up to 50 percent by the time it is installed. Pulse Tech Products offers a battery maintenance system to solve the issue. Stocking “charged” lead-acid batteries will help avoid additional downtime astechnicians are spending less time working with batteries. The result: an indirect cost savings in more productivity to perform mechanical work troubleshooting and repairs.

More information on this Pulse Tech product and tips for maintaining batteries in the Tech Tips section on VehicleServicePros.com.

Tell us topics you want to see addressed on VehicleServicePros Industry Insights. Send us Photos! Cool cars, amazing fixes, unsightley tool storage areas…We’ll post them to our website, Facebook and run at the end of each Industry Insights.

Share your opinions of what you see happening in our industry. We’ll share viewers insights as well.