Unperformed maintenance dropped to $52 billion in 2005, according to an upcoming report from the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA). While the $52 billion represents a drop of $4 billion from 2004 figures, many American vehicle owners are still neglecting many of the vital maintenance and service procedures that their cars and trucks require to operate safely, reliably and fuel-efficiently, according to AASA.
“This drop may signify that industry efforts to educate consumers on vehicle maintenance may be paying off and that owners are indeed taking better care of their cars and trucks,” said Steve Handschuh, executive director of AASA. “The $52 billion still represents a significant amount of potential business for aftermarket parts manufacturers, distributors, retailers, jobbers and service professionals.”
The $52 billion is the lowest level of unperformed maintenance since 1998 when it was $47 billion. In 2002, the untapped market reached its high of $62 billion and has gradually decreased since. Still, the 2005 untapped total represents 22 percent of the entire aftermarket.
According to Frank Hampshire, AASA’s senior director of research, there are numerous factors that influence unperformed maintenance including vehicle miles traveled, the number of vehicles in use, the state of the economy, the average age of vehicles, recommended service intervals, parts durability and, to a growing extent in recent years, skyrocketing gasoline prices.
“One important factor to watch in 2006 will be the effect of rising fuel prices on consumers’ discretionary spending,” Hampshire noted. “While a consumer may have less money to spend on fixing and maintaining his/her vehicle, the owner also may opt to spend money on products and services that may enhance vehicle fuel economy.”
According to Hampshire, many consumers replaced products in 2005, such as air filters, that they had previously neglected in the hopes of achieving higher fuel economy. Other often postponed items, such as engine overhauls and clutch replacements, were performed in an attempt to extract a few more years from an aging vehicle. Products that represent the most untapped potential in 2005 include alternators, air conditioning condensers, exhaust pipes, wheel bearing, shocks (or struts), radiator service, catalytic converters, CV joints, fuel pumps and steering service.
“While it is true that economic and environmental conditions have combined to reduce the size of the untapped market, some credit must be given to the aftermarket industry in its attempt to recapture some of this tremendous potential. The Be Car Care Aware campaign is a good example of what can be done to reach this market, and although the absolute size of the untapped market has declined in the past three years, it still represents a tremendous source of potential growth,” Hampshire noted.
A full report and analysis on unperformed maintenance will be included in the 2006-2007 AASA Automotive Aftermarket Status Report, which will be mailed to AASA members in June. More details about AASA Status Report will be available soon at the association website, www.aftermarketsuppliers.org, or the MEMA website, www.mema.org.