LAS VEGAS-Unperformed automotive maintenance, called an ``untapped market,'' reached $23.4 billion in 1994, according to studies conducted by the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA). Since 1978, MEMA has tracked that statistic in a series of studies addressing consumer automotive maintenance practices. The untapped market occurs when consumers postpone automotive maintenance, or neglect their vehicles.
MEMA estimated the untapped market was $26.7 billion in 1990. Analysis of current economic conditions and automotive industry activity concluded that the lower 1994 number may be due to better U.S. economic conditions as well as a high level of vehicle transfer activity-both new and used-in 1994 compared with 1990.
Higher vehicle sales trigger the performance of neglected maintenance by owners who sell their vehicles privately, according to MEMA, and by professional auto dealers who resell used cars.
MEMA said other probable reasons for the differences in the studies include longer new vehicle warranties, better component parts, and consumer awareness programs which lead to more responsible automotive maintenance.
Coincidentally, the Automotive Service Industry Association (ASIA) reported last year that, for the first time since 1991, profits for aftermarket businesses were improving.
The results, profiled in ASIA's 1995 Survey of Profitability In Aftermarket Distribution, attributed the growth to stronger, better-managed companies which have emerged from the economic recession of several years ago.
And yet another recent study, conducted by the Automotive Parts & Accessories Association (APAA), found that a surprisingly high number of do-it-yourself (DIY) auto mechanics fall into the 55 and older age groups.
Age groups typically viewed as prime DIY markets-25-34 and 35-44-have stagnated or declined in recent years, the APAA said, while the 45-54 age group population continues to grow.
An estimated 15 percent of the U.S. population-that is, 39 million individuals-perform maintenance on their vehicles, ranging from simply changing fluids to the most complex jobs.