USA Today article (Friday September 27, 2019 by Nathan Borney - USA Today) shows that “the average age of cars and light trucks on U.S. roads reached an all time high of 11.8 years in 2018.”
The article goes on to claim... “By 2023, there will be about 84 million vehicles on the road that are at least 16 years old, reflecting a 240% increase from 35 million in 2002, according to IHS.”
Are you getting your share?
There’s only 90 days left in 2019 and the market is changing. Sorry, it HAS changed. Are you ready? Do you have your plans laid out for marketing your shop in 2020?
Auto Service Marketing - Fix Your Car Count FAST!
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The average age of light vehicles in operation in the U.S. has risen again as consumers continue to hold onto cars and light trucks longer.
Driven by technology and quality gains, the average age of light vehicles on U.S. roads is 11.8 years, based on a snapshot of vehicles in operation Jan. 1, an analysis by IHS Markit found. That's up from a light-vehicle population that was, on average,11.7 years old in 2018.
The number of registered light vehicles in operation in the U.S. hit a record of more than 278 million this year, an increase of more than 5.9 million, or 2.2 percent.
IHS Markit began tracking the age of vehicles in 2002, when the average age was 9.6 years.
"The average age of a vehicle has continued to grow ever since cars started coming out from Henry Ford's production line, if you will," said Mark Seng, director of the global automotive aftermarket practice at IHS Markit. "People are hanging onto them longer because they're lasting longer."
From 2002 to 2007, the average age of light vehicles in the U.S. increased 3.5 percent, he said, but from 2008 to 2013, the average age rose12.2 percent.
"We're kind of back to that same pace that we saw from 2002 to 2007," Seng said. "The average age of light vehicles in the U.S. accelerated so much because we were coming out of the Great Recession back in 2008 to 2009 and new light-vehicle sales fell like 40 percent over a two-year period. Even during the recovery years there were fewer vehicles being sold, so that just accelerated the average age of the fleets in the U.S."
For the first time, the analysis included a review of various regions around the country. The oldest light vehicles are in the West, at 12.4 years, an increase of 1.5 percent from a year earlier. The Northeast had the youngest light vehicles at 10.9 years, which increased 1.1 percent from a year earlier. Weather and road conditions, driving habits and household finances and affluence can have a major impact on the average age of vehicles in a state and region, IHS said.
IHS Markit found that the number of older cars and light trucks is growing fast, with vehicles 16 years and older expected to grow 22 percent to 74 million from 2018 to 2023.
In contrast, there were less than 35 million vehicles 16 years or older on the road in 2002, according to the analysis.
Seng said the growing number of older vehicles on the road provides more repair opportunities for dealers and aftermarket parts providers that focus on automotive service repair beyond warranty coverage.
"There's many more older vehicles on the road than there was in 2002, which means there's going to be all different kinds of repairs -- oil changes, brake jobs and new wiper blades -- that's going to be done to that vehicle cycle," he said. "That's more revenue opportunities for aftermarket repair people."
Years ago my younger brother came to work for me. He didn’t know a thing about cars, but was willing to learn all he could. Teaching new techs is an art that most shop owners have to learn to do, but teaching your little brother can be a chore and can test your patience. I muddled thru it all and taught him what I could. I was sure at some point in time the two of us would butt heads like brothers will do, and he would take his new found skills and move up in the rank and files of the automotive technical world, but in the meantime it was his turn to learn from his older brother.
When he first started I would walk him through each step of how to diagnose a certain system in a car. A lot of times he would have questions, and I’d do my best to answer them. He learned quickly and was really sharp at picking up some of those little details that are harder to teach. You know things like how you held a certain wrench or used a certain tool, to you and me it’s no big deal. But to a novice, it’s a revelation, then you (I) tend to forget to mention those certain traits while you’re teaching. Mainly because you are trying to get to the solution as efficiently as possible, and you neglect to bring it up. Such as: “always test your test light connection before testing what you’re testing, or don’t forget to check for all your tools before you pull the car out of the shop….” Things like that.
One day we had a truck come in with dual fuel tanks on it. The gas gauge wasn’t working and needed some attention. This was a perfect opportunity for Junior to learn a few of my short cuts on these old models. It was an older Ford, in which the tank gauge ran thru the tank switchover button. It was rather easy to pull it out of the dash and connect to the gauge from the back of the switch.
Luckily it was the typical problem I’ve seen a hundred times in the past. The switch connections would melt and the tank wouldn’t switch from the front tank to the rear, and of course the gauge wouldn’t move either.
After locating the correct leads to the gauge and to the tanks I decided to show him how the gauge worked. I hooked up the one of the tanks to the crossover lead that would supply the signal from the tank to the gauge.
“Ya see this, that’s the lead to the fuel gauge in the dash, and this is one of the tank wires. I’ll connect these together and we should get a reading on the dash,” I told him.
He was watching intently, taking in all the wiring diagram information, the location of the wires, and how I was bypassing the switch. He was fascinated with the flow of the current and the way the gauge would respond. I even went as far as moving the gauge from full to empty by opening and closing it to a ground signal. While I had his attention I filled him in on the two types of gauges that were used back then (bimetallic and magnetic) and how low resistance on a bimetal type gauge would read near a full tank, while a magnetic gauge would read close to empty. Change the resistance and the gauge would/should read accordingly.
“So, if we put gas in the tank the gauge should move right? That way we could check the sending units in the tanks too,” he asked me.
“Great idea, grab a gas can and let’s add a few gallons,” I said, excited that he was so interested in the project.
He grabbed a can of gas and poured a few gallons in the tank. I was watching the gas guage carefully, but there was no movement. I knew I was on the right wires, but nothing was happening. Now what? Are there more problems?
“Crawl under there, and check to be sure the wire color is correct,” I yelled from the cab to him.
“Yep, it’s the right wire on the tank.”
“Well, we might have to pull the tank; it’s not changing the gauge readings up here.”
“Before we do that let’s add some more gas, maybe we didn’t add enough,” Junior tells me.
I thought I better go back and help hold the funnel, while he poured the gas in the tank. Unknowing to me, all this time my wife (who was the office manager) was listening in on the whole thing. She likes to keep tabs on me, and make sure I’m not going into one of my usual rants or having a fit because I had to explain something over and over again to little brother. This time she was standing at the corner of the shop just behind the truck with a camera. “CLICK”, I heard the camera shutter go off and she was back there laughing like there was no tomorrow.
“What’s so funny?” I asked her.
“You two idiots have been putting gas in the wrong tank. You’re on the front tank, and you’re putting gas in the rear tank,” my wife answers, laughing hysterically.
About then the camera “clicked” again… this time it was an action shot taken at precisely the exact moment when these two idiots had that dumb struck look on their faces and realized what they just did. The shot had both of us on our knees, one holding a funnel and the other with the half empty gas can, and both of us staring right into the camera lens. Couldn’t have set it up any better if you tried.
The picture clearly showed the side of the truck with both fuel tank doors visible and there was no doubt which tank we were putting in the extra gas. I guess it was one of those things I should have mentioned when we were checking the tank senders… make sure we are both on the same tank.
For years that picture hung over her desk, and anytime I thought I was so smart she would point at the photo. Usually with that typical smirk, usually shaking her finger at me and of course the laugh… she had to laugh, but it wasn’t all that funny until she had me laughing about it too. Ok, Ok, I’m not perfect... and now my little brother knows it too.
These days he’s a top notch tech at a dealership, and I have to call him on occasions for some help on how to solve things once in a while. Oh the photo… uhmmm… what photo?? Somehow it’s missing… haven’t seen the darn thing in years. But I guess I really don’t need to see the photo … the wife has a pretty good memory... she reminds me just how smart I think I am every chance she gets.
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HOME Hood Props and Latches Just as soon as the manufacturers got away from using heavy springs to hold the hood up they went to these tiny hydraulic hood shocks. But, since these shocks don’t hold up all that well over years of use, coming up with a way to “hold up” the hood can turn into its own form of backyard engineering. So what do you do? Some of these car hood crafter's find the proverbial discarded broom stick or something of adequate length to prop the bonnet up for them. It works; hey… it held the hoodup right? When the job under the hood is done you’ll tuck it away in the garage, or find an appropriate spot under the hood where you can leave it for future use. Once the hood is closed what was once a problem is now not a problem; out of sight – out of mind. Needless to say, replacing the hood shocks isn’t high on the maintenance priority list. I make it a habit to re-purpose old broom sticks myself. If I need a more unobstructed access under the hood, or those old hood shocks have the “dropsies” (Yea, tell me you’ve never had that happen before.) I’ll reach for a pair of vice-grips to clamp onto the shock rod instead of propping it up with the broom stick. Of course there are those cars out there that don’t use hydraulic shocks at all. A lot of manufacturers have gone with using a permanent hood “holder-upper” rod permanently mounted in the engine bay. What baffles me about them is the countless times I’ve opened a hood and the rod has vanished. Now I’m back to finding that broom stick of mine, or look around for the owner’s creative “holder-upper” tool they so carefully stashed somewhere under the hood. What I’d like to know is, “Where do these hood props go?” They’re attached. I mean seriously, how do ya lose a hood prop? I just don’t get it. I can see somebody misplacing the jack because they changed a tire in their garage and didn’t put it back, but the hood prop? It’s mounted in there so you can’t misplace it. It has one function in life, that’s to hold up the hood. What? Did somebody find a better use for one? I’d like know! Once these props and shocks have become non-functioning the quick thinking car owner comes up with a solution. Some are feats of real engineering while others just grabbed whatever was handy. I’ve found everything from a shortened 2X4 stud, re-bar, tree limbs, PVC pipe, yard sticks, walking canes, pool cues, batons, pieces from a swing set, axe handles, large monkey wrenches, metal chair legs, and even a full size crutch stuck under the hood. I’ve got to admit, some of these creations are quite unique. Some of them might be worthy of a patent. Heck, why not… someone is always building a better mouse trap you know. All this talk of propping the hood up gets me to thinking about the other ingenious home repairs people have come up with regarding the hood, and that’s how do ya get the thing open when it won’t open. These days every car manufacturer I know of has gone with an inside release rather than the main latch release out under the front grill or bumper. The real surprise about the hood release snafu is when someone drops a car off for repair and neglects to tell the mechanic that they “rigged” the hood release. If the inside release isn’t where it’s supposed to be… well then…the search is on…. (Usually with a spattering of inappropriate comments to go along with it.) Once you find the remnants of the cable or handle then it’s a question of whether or not to pull the cable, wiggle it, or yank it for all its worth. (More “words” will commence in just a few seconds.) Oh, I’ve spent my fair share of time groping around looking for the working end of the release cables before. And, of course there’s always the one with the cable broken off. (Grrrr…!) That’s about the time I’ll look at the repair order to see what I’m really supposed to be doing. As usual, nowhere on the RO does it say, “Good luck finding the hood release cable!” or “You might want to fix the hood cable before you change that water pump.” Nope, not a chance… seems everyone including the owner has forgotten all about the hood being an issue. Leave it up to the mechanic to find out all about it, aye? It’s a thrill a minute around here folks! (Start the chant; “I love my job, I love my job. Repeat as necessary.) It just keeps getting better… how about those mystery hoods? The ones that give you no signs that the main latch has released. You pull the lever and nothing happens. On some cars you grab that sucker and pull so hard you think you’re going to jerk the cable clean into the trunk, while others you can feel the latch releasing with a baby soft tug, but the hood doesn’t budge. It’s still even with the rest of the body panels. That’s when you have to go out and use the old “Fonzie bump on the jute box” trick to get it to pop open. Some pop right up, but eventually you’ll run across a stubborn one, usually with the telltale signs of a screwdriver being used to pry it up high enough to get your fingers to the secondary safety latch. (Grumbling and cussing has erupted again.) Needless to say, the objective of the day was to get into the engine bay for whatever repairs you needed to make. Not make a chore out of just getting the blasted hood open. But it happens… happens a lot. Once in a while the owner will politely tell me that the hood doesn’t open up very well. I appreciate that. At least now, I’m aware of the problem and not confronted with the unexpected dilemma of an uncooperative hood. Sometimes I do have to ask the customer, “Say, how do ya get your hood open?”, even though I feel like an idiot doing so. Wasn’t I supposed to be the expert here? I thought it was my job to tackle car related problems and make the necessary repairs? Honestly, what kind of impression are you making with that new customer who’s at the shop for the first time, and you have to go up front just to ask them how to open the hood of their car?! Needless to say, you’ve probably already spent way too much time trying to figure it out on your own… before you swallowed your pride and went up to ask. (Been there…done that.) Well, the next job is coming in, and I can already see the hood cable dangling from under the front bumper on this one. Oh joy, another day in the shop… great, just great… I best go find that broom stick… I’m going to need it.
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Just a little back story, have been in business for 6 years. Started from my house garage and grew to a 3 bay shop 2 years ago with one full time b tech. Very diverse shop we do a lot of collision repair,mechanical repairs,and used car sales with an inventory of 30 cars right now. when i first started, being so diverse helped keep the shop busy but now i am at the point where i would really like to perfect and enlarge my auto repair side of the business. i am very tired of throwing parts at cars and i know we are weak in the "CHECK ENGINE" world but i don't know how to make the jump to correct this. I know for a fact this will help my shop become more efficient and improve my used car business as well. ideally i would like to hire a Master tech who could help train the other tech and let me step into a manger position so i could buy more cars and be more aggressive in marketing the business, maybe land a fleet account. i just feel stuck with all these decisions and can't seem to decide which turn to take. i feel very lucky to have found this site and i am very excited to see what advise people have.