The untapped market for unperformed automotive maintenance in 1994 was $23.4 billion-with undercar services representing the largest single category of unperformed repair work, according to a study by the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA). Needed undercar maintenance in areas such as vehicle suspension and exhaust service represented 20 percent of this total-or $4.7 billion in potential service business for those astute enough to go after it.
Nearly seven in 10 consumers (68 percent) who responded to the MEMA study said they intended to have such work performed within the next six months.
Most cited a temporary shortage of cash as their primary reason for putting off such work-an obstacle tire dealerships and other service providers may be able to surmount through the acceptance of credit cards.
MEMA, since 1978, has been tracking this untapped market-which occurs when consumers either postpone or neglect needed maintenance on their vehicles.
The untapped service market in 1994, the association noted, was more than $3 billion lower than in 1990, the year the MEMA study last was conducted.
MEMA officials hypothesized that the shrinking of this untapped market may be due to improved economic conditions coupled with an increase in vehicle registration transfers (both new and used) compared with four years earlier.
The prospect of a pending sale usually triggers the performance of previously neglected maintenance by owners or dealers preparing such cars for the used-car market, MEMA officials explained.
Other possible explanations for the decline in the untapped service market also included today's longer new-car warranties, improved vehicle components and increased consumer awareness of the need for responsible automotive maintenance.
The association, which represents 700 U.S. manufacturers of vehicle components, tools and automotive service products and equipment, plans to amplify on these findings when it publishes the full text of its ``Car Maintenance in the U.S.A.'' study later this year.