By Jim Taylor, Editor MACS ACtion Magazine
The news broke a couple weeks ago while we were at the MACS Convention, and you may have caught its mention on the nightly news. At the end of 2011, the average age of light vehicles in the U.S. vehicle population has risen to 10.8 years, according to R.L. Polk. In detail, it is 10.4 years for light trucks and 11.1 for cars, but call it 11-even for a round number.
So it appears that there are a lot of 2000-’01-’02 cars and trucks still running quite happily and giving reasonable service to their owners. Naturally, the math is slightly skewed because there are way-more very new vehicles out there – say 2008 to 2010 – than very old vehicles, perhaps late ’70s and early ’80s still in service. However, the numbers still provide some insight.
Most observers attribute the age increase to the recent economic cycle and the simple fact that many people either couldn’t, or chose not to, buy a new car. That is certainly part of it, and a review of historic purchasing trends bears it out. But it’s not the only part.
Very simply, vehicles have gotten better in the last 20 years. We have, thankfully, come out of what some call the “Malaise Era” of poorly made, disposable and unrewarding cars. Quality is up all around, materials are better and electronics are more reliable. Getting a reasonably modern car past 100,000 miles may now require little more than frequent oil changes, a couple filters and a set of spark plugs. Many cars go well past that mileage with no mechanical repairs other than brakes and tires, and those only due to wear.
It is also possible that in some small way, owners have gotten smarter as well. Perhaps all the industry preaching has paid off and people are beginning to realize that fixing the small stuff quickly prevents large and nasty repairs down the road. Many have also learned the old axiom that “the cheapest car to buy is the one you already own” and see that a several hundred dollar repair is still cheaper than spending several thousand for a replacement vehicle.
Most of your shop customers are not drooling boneheads (in spite of what Louie over in the far bay says.) For the most part, your customers are normal intelligent working folks who manage their life, business and family every day. They may be un-informed about their car – sometimes even mis-informed – but that’s where you come in.
Your shop’s skill, knowledge and guidance is what keeps these rides on the road whether it’s an ’08, a ’98 or even 1978. Keep ’em rolling.
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When having your mobile A/C system professionally serviced, insist on proper repair procedures and quality replacement parts. Insist on recovery and recycling so that refrigerant can be reused and not released into the atmosphere.
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The 33rd annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Convention and Trade Show will take place February 7-9, 2013 at the Caribe Royale, Orlando, FL