BETHESDA, Md. (Aug. 8, 2006) — Seventy percent of independent repair shops do not have confidence that auto makers will always provide the necessary service information, according to a study commissioned by the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA).
Twenty-seven percent of service shops do believe the information will always be available while another 3 percent either aren't sure or refused to answer.
In addition, automotive repair shops turned customers away an average of 6.1 times in the past 12 months because they did not have the information needed to repair a vehicle, the study found.
“Without a doubt, this independent survey demonstrates the extensive problems being encountered by independent repair shops that cannot obtain the tools and information they need to be competitive with new car dealers,” said Kathleen Schmatz, president and CEO of AAIA.
She added in a statement that the study highlights the industry's need for the Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act. The bill would require auto makers to make the same information and tools available to independents that are provided to their dealers. Currently auto makers are providing much of this information through Web sites—some of which are fee-based—through an arrangement with the Automotive Service Association (ASA).
The phone survey was conducted June 16-23 with 1,005 respondents. One percent of the respondents were tire dealers, while general repair shops made up the vast majority with 80 percent. The study has a margin of error of +/-3.1 percent.
The study also found:
* 61 percent of shops view independent service providers such as Mitchell Repair Information Co. and Alldata L.L.C. as their most important resource for repair information compared to only 19 percent who say the same for OE manufacturers' Web sites. Thirty-eight percent said OE repair manuals are their most important source;
* 46 percent of shops only buy repair information from OEMs as needed for repairs, with the same number never buying the information. The shops that buy the information spent an average of $1,971 in 2005, down from $2,378 in 2004. Seven percent buy the information continuously;
* 16 percent said much of the needed information is missing from foreign auto makers' offerings compared with only 9 percent who said the same of domestic brands. However, 35 percent said some of the data is missing from domestic brands compared with 27 percent from foreign brands. Sixty-seven percent said foreign brands “never” or “only sometimes” offered the capabilities in their tools to fix vehicles; 50 percent said the same of domestic brands;
* Among information missing from OE sources, the top five areas that were missing information was electric systems, driveability, engine control module, anti-theft systems and emissions.
* Service shops turned away customers an average of 4.5 times in the past 12 months because they didn't have the necessary tools and 4.2 times because they didn't feel it was worth the time or effort to fix the vehicle; and
* Service shops lost an average of 12 hours per month when service information or tools were not available. That lost productivity turns into $5.8 billion in lost revenue for the country's repair shops per year, the study's authors said.
The study is available at www.aftermarket.org.