How to Help Your Customers Say Yes to Automotive Maintenance

Sept. 5, 2019

In its 2020 Factbook, the Auto Care Association says a survey of more than 100,000 American households, with more than 170,000 vehicles, shows 21.9% of consumers delayed automotive maintenance in 2018.

More than 57% of those consumers said either time or money were the reasons for the delay. Here’s the full breakdown of their responses:

  • 37.5% couldn’t afford the repair
  • 20.2% couldn’t find a convenient time
  • 17.8% repair isn’t important to the vehicle’s drivability
  • 4.7% repair takes too long/driver can’t be without the vehicle
  • 3.9% part isn’t available
  • 3.5% doesn’t plan to own the vehicle much longer
  • 2.6% wanted to get a second opinion on whether the repair was necessary
  • 9.8% other reasons

The men and women working the front counter in tire dealerships have heard all of these reasons — and perhaps more. But there are tire dealers offering solutions to help consumers close the gap and do the work.

When it comes to cost, there are the branded credit cards that plenty of tire stores offer, as well as the secondary finance options from providers like Snap Finance LLC and West Creek Financial Inc.

For consumers who cite time and convenience as their biggest obstacles, the availability of loaner cars and pre-paid Uber services is a help. There are plenty of tire dealers maximizing on those services. Telle Tire & Auto Service Inc. has loaner cars and valet service at its stores in the St. Louis metro area and elsewhere in Missouri. MSS Inc., which dba Virginia Tire & Auto, has a loaner car service as well as dedicated customer shuttles. At Redwood General Tire Service Co. in Redwood City, Calif., owner Alpio Barbara’s team offers customers a ride by calling them an Uber. (He's also used Uber for quick tire deliveries from a warehouse.)

Value of the delayed maintenance

The Auto Care Association’s research, conducted by IMR Inc., indicated the overall delayed maintenance amounts to $24.9 billion in repairs — of which almost 70% would be turned over to someone else to do the work. That’s $17.4 billion for the do-it-for-me market. And that’s not an accounting of recommended maintenance spelled out in vehicle owner manuals; these are repairs and maintenance consumers know need to be performed, but have consciously chosen to delay.

It adds up to this: The Auto Care Association says there are more than five million delayed brake jobs, nearly seven million unchanged tires and 11 million cars in need of an oil change.

And when consumers were asked about their timeline to have the work done, the vast majority — 84% — said they planned to schedule it within six months. But that left 16% of the work to be done after at least a year. That means the respondents to the 2018 survey could be driving past your tire store today in need of almost $2.8 billion of deferred work.