Billions in Delayed Repairs is a Big Problem for Drivers and a Big Opportunity for the Automotive Aftermarket

IMR Inc. and the Auto Care Factbook 2020 just released some staggering survey results that vehicle owners and repair shops need to know. Out of the 100,000 American households surveyed who own more than 170,000 vehicles, results show that approximately $24.9 billion in necessary repairs or maintenance are being purposefully delayed. 

Players in the automotive aftermarket industry, take notes because $24.9 billion translates into a massive untapped opportunity for your business. The types of maintenance most commonly delayed and the reasons for putting it off will surprise you. 

If you own a vehicle, we know auto repair and maintenance can cause about as much anxiety as watching The Sixth Sense or getting stuck in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. Have no fear, Openbay is here to make it easy and stress-free. We want you to be safe on the roads and keep your car running as long as possible, so we’ll tell you what you need to do to make that happen.

Who Are the Culprits? 

Sorry Millennials, but you take the cake for the generation most likely to neglect vehicle maintenance. As if you didn’t have a bad enough rap. 

Counterintuitively, the older the vehicle, the more likely it’s not maintained properly. Vehicles 12 years and older make up 9.9% of the group that need maintenance, with vehicles 8 to 11 years old falling not too far behind at 8.7%. If a vehicle was purchased used, it’s more likely that it requires maintenance that is being delayed than vehicles purchased new. 

It’s important to note that the average age of US vehicles on the road is now at its highest point since it started being tracked in the early 2000s (11.8 years). With 278 million cars on US roads at an average of 11.8 years old combined with a higher likelihood of delayed maintenance on vehicles 8 years or older, way too many American vehicles aren’t getting the service they need to be safe to operate.

What Are We Delaying?  

Out of the 278 million cars on American roads, the most common delayed services include oil changes, tire changes and brake pad replacement:

  • 5 million brake jobs are neglected
  • 7 million tire changes are ignored
  • 11 million oil changes are avoided

The good news is that most consumers delaying auto maintenance (91%) plan to eventually get the service or repair, with 43% planning to do it within a month and 77% within the next 3 months. 

As vehicle technology becomes more complex, DIY (Do it Yourself) is increasingly evolving into DIFM (Do it For Me). The majority of these consumers delaying vehicle maintenance (76.9%) plan on having a professional perform the service or repair rather than doing it themselves.

The Cost of Safety and Peace-of-Mind

Seat belts can only do so much to keep you safe in an accident. Delayed brake repair, tire changes and oil changes pose a real risk to yourself, your passengers and other drivers on the road. Here’s why each of the top three ignored services are 100% necessary: 

Brake repair – Life is unpredictable, and so are other drivers. Your brake system is your last resort to avoid a catastrophe. It takes a perfect balance of brake pads, calipers, rotors, fluid and brake hoses to work in conjunction with one another to work effectively. When there is a problem with any of these parts, it throws off this balance and puts you in real danger. Yes, brake work can throw off your monthly budget, but you can’t put a price on safety and peace-of-mind. 

Tire changesTires are expensive, so you want to make them last.  If you’re not checking tire pressure levels and tire tread regularly, your car is at risk of a tire blowout. This is a serious problem because according to the NHTSA, there were over 700 deaths in 2017 because of a tire issue. The amount of tread on your tire is crucial for maintaining traction on the road and 

Oil changes – We’ve all been there. The oil change light pops up on your dashboard and you think to yourself, “I can probably go a bit longer.” The reality is that oil protects the engine, so if you skip this regular maintenance task, the engine is at risk of overheating, corroding or forming a clog.In the meantime, it might cause your car to become inoperable. Roadside breakdowns can not only ruin your day but they can also put yourself and others in danger. 

Delayed Maintenance Shortens Your Car’s Lifespan

Aside from safety risks, your decision to delay necessary maintenance can have a major impact on the longevity of your car and, ultimately, your wallet too. Following the right car care guidelines can save you from a giant headache and/or auto repair bill further down the road. By servicing the vehicle at regular intervals, you protect all the vital components. When you neglect to do this, those parts have to work harder to perform. Over time, the neglect builds up and causes more severe concerns.

Take, for example, your car engine. When you don’t change the oil, you allow contaminants and debris to build up, which slowly destroys the motor. Eventually, you end up needing an engine rebuild, engine repair or engine replacement.  What would have cost you less than $75 now costs you thousands. If you neglect to check tire pressure and tire tread depth and wear or you ignore manufacturer guidelines for tire rotation and wheel alignment, an accident from a tire blowout can result in a totaled car or an expensive auto body shop repair bill. The majority of vehicle maintenance services don’t cost a lot of money. Plus, you can avoid the guessing and compare service estimates from mechanics near you with an easy-to-use free service. 

You don’t have to be a mindreader to know when your car needs repair or maintenance. If your car is making a strange noise, it’s trying to tell you that it needs some TLC. If your check engine light appears, don’t ignore it. All of your car car needs are in the vehicle owner’s manual. Pay special attention to the back of the book, which will point out important maintenance information. If you prefer a digital version of your maintenance schedule, find it here. Check out more valuable maintenance tips for extending your vehicle’s life on our blog. 

Why Are We Putting Off Crucial Maintenance? 

According to IMR Inc., the top two reasons consumers delay routine maintenance include not being able to find a convenient time (33%) and the cost of the repair (30.3%). 

We’ve already proven that preventative maintenance actually keeps car repair bills lower in the long run, but how can you find the right price and the right drop-off time that fits your needs?

In the ‘old days’, it took forever to find a reliable auto mechanic and get a quote. Before car repair marketplaces existed, here’s the process you had to follow, even for simple maintenance work:

  1. Browse the Yellow Pages or ask a friend for a recommendation
  2. Drive to the shop or call to get a custom quote
  3. Wait for them to call you back with your quote
  4. Repeat steps #1-3 until you get the quote you want
  5. Call your shop of choice to make an appointment

Luckily, times have changed and there are better, faster ways to find, book and pay for car repair in today’s digital world. Openbay takes the guessing and stressing out of the equation, connecting vehicle owners with reliable mechanics and personalized quotes to compare on their own time. All it takes is a few clicks to get it done and get on with your day. 

  1. Visit or download the free app
  2. Enter zip code, select vehicle info and service needed 
  3. Select the service estimate and local mechanic that works best for you
  4. Schedule a drop-off time and pay directly through Openbay

With this innovative process, not having the time or being anxious about the cost are no longer acceptable excuses to delay preventative vehicle maintenance. Let Openbay do the work for you. 

A Big Opportunity for Aftermarket Players

Ratchet+Wrench interviewed IMR Inc.’s CEO, Bill Thompson, and Auto Care Association‘s SVP of Strategic Development, Behzad Rassuli, to uncover what shop owners can do to discourage customers from delaying necessary maintenance. 

“For a long time, there’s been a number that’s been reported called ‘unperformed maintenance’ and it’s been reported between $50 billion and $70 billion. What we kept hearing from industry members is, “what do we do with that number?” In other words, how can we tap into that opportunity. We set out to find an answer,” explains Rassuli. 

How can you get customers to perform that work right away or get them to come back?
Rassuli: Speak that language with the consumer. Time, money and urgency. It helps to have a conversation with the consumer, to rank the volume of opportunity and have the conversation of the importance of it. If it’s a time factor, explain that it won’t take that long. If it’s too expensive, offer a discount. If they don’t believe it’s urgent, let them know why it is.

How can you encourage customers to not delay?
Rassuli: There are a lot of unknowns from a car owners perspective. They don’t know what’s urgent versus what’s routine maintenance. The light on the dash comes and they think they can delay. You need to express the cascading effects of maintenance to a consumer. Let them know that delays could impact another part of the vehicle.

If a customer leaves and says they’ll come back, how do you make sure they do?
Thompson: You don’t want to scare them, but you do need to stress the importance of having stuff done in a timely manner and getting it on the calendar right away or following up in a particular amount of time. The customer won’t mind the shop following up. Take a proactive approach. There’s a monetary opportunity to get them back in the door.

Openbay: Your Go-To Source for All Things Automotive

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