Overwhelming Majority of Car Owners Put Off Maintenance
June 9, 2021—A new study by Utires found that roughly 92 percent of car owners admitted to putting off a car care task longer than they should. As a result, Utires found the average American driver spends an extra $1,193 over their vehicle’s life span.
But what factors are leading consumers to put off car maintenance and repair? And how can repair shops help fix it?
Ratchet+Wrench spoke with Matt Wojsaik, shop manager for Utires, which operates two repair locations in the Chicago area, to learn more about which tasks get put off, the factors at play and what shops can do to bring apprehensive customers to their shop. The full interview with Wojsaik is available on the latest episode of Ratchet+Wrench Radio. Here are some of the main takeaways from the conversation.
Time is a major factor
The top reason that consumers gave for pushing off car maintenance is time. Over 50 percent of respondents said they were too busy to take their car in. Just slightly behind that reason was money. Fifty-two percent of respondents said they couldn’t afford it.
While shops may not be able to do much to reduce the pricing of a service, the excuse of time is a factor that shops can help control, Wojsaik said.
Many repair shops are now offering mobile repair services or the ability to go to a customer's residence or place of work to pick up the vehicle and bring it to the shop. Shops that have a multitude of ways to help make a customer's time more efficient are going to be important going forward, Wojsaik said.
Trust remains important
Two other prominent reasons for delaying service were anxiety and a lack of trust towards mechanics. Interestingly anxiety and distrust of mechanics were slightly more of an issue for men than women, the study found. It also uncovered that younger people feel more anxiety and distrust around automotive tasks than older people.
The general notion of distrust is something the industry as a whole has battled for years and will continue to battle. Wojsaik focuses on educating his customers as much as possible anytime they are in his shop. He feels that is the best way to lessen anxiety.
“When you actually bring them into the shop and teach them what is going wrong, that goes a long way,” he said. “Too many repair shops don’t explain the repairs to the customers and that makes a huge difference.”
Educating customers can also help the third-most cited reason for delaying repairs, which is the consumer believes the repair isn’t urgent. While it may be the case for some repairs, the longer the customer waits to repair the vehicle, the likelihood that it becomes a larger and more expensive problem grows. Educating the customer about the importance of on-time maintenance can go a long way, Wojsaik said.
Most ignored car problems
Wojsaik also shared the most commonly ignored problems that Americans will avoid for 30 days or longer.
Here’s the top five responses, followed by the percent of respondents who admitted to neglecting the issue.
- Cracked windshield, 42.4 percent
- Wheels out of alignment, 35.3 percent
- Overdue oil change, 31 percent
- Bald or worn-out tires, 27.3 percent
- Check engine light on, 26.4 percent