Editor's Notebook: Wanted! All Skilled, Expert Technicians

Editor’s Notebook: Wanted! All Skilled, Expert Technicians

Newly released numbers from the National Car Care Month inspection campaign paint a vivid image of the maintenance landscape of this nation’s vehicle fleet. And, it’s not a pretty picture. Inspection lanes conducted throughout the country this past April revealed an 87% failure rate among vehicles that were inspected.

Concurrently, the number of miles driven in April 2004 was 3.1% higher than in April 2003 (according to a recent MEMA Market Analysis newsletter).

So, more miles are being driven with vehicles that are in dire need of repair – a detriment to highway safety, air quality, and vehicle performance and dependability, yet a call to action for YOU! As providers of automotive service excellence, you can make a difference. Malfunctioning vehicle systems and components present an opportunity for you to leverage your experience in troubleshooting, diagnostics, and accurate and complete vehicle repair, as you service your customers’ vehicles.

If the below sampling of Car Care Council vehicle system failure rate statistics are any indication, there is plenty of service expertise required and plenty of repairs to go around.

In the category of lubricants and fluids, 34% of vehicles inspected had low, overfull or dirty motor oil. Twenty-three percent had low or dirty power steering fluid, 26% of vehicles had low brake fluid, 20% needed a coolant flush and 27% had a low level of coolant.

Further, 14% of vehicles exhibited front windshield wiper failures and 12% needed service on their rear wipers and/or washer.

In the parts category, 25% of the vehicles inspected had at least one unsatisfactory belt and 12% needed at least one new hose. Twenty-four percent of the vehicles inspected needed new air filters and 17% needed new PCV filters. While 16% of vehicles had low battery fluid, another 15% required maintenance on battery cables, clamps and terminals.

Twenty-five percent of vehicles had improperly inflated tires and 10% had worn tread and were in need of replacement.

So, what should these numbers mean to you? First, they should tell you that there is an abundance of unperformed maintenance in the market. Second, if you don’t have a “routine maintenance vehicle inspection program” in place for your customers’ vehicles, create one now. Third, if all of your technicians are not on the lookout for malfunctioning “related system” components while performing vehicle repairs, give them a copy of the Car Care Council’s full report (www.carcare.org) and get them motivated to make a difference. Fourth, actively educate your customers on the value of preventive maintenance to help reverse vehicle neglect and inadequate vehicle system operation.

Let’s move the preventive maintenance needle. Your shop, your customers and this industry will all be the beneficiaries!

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