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April Showers Brings … National Car Care Month!

Time to perform preventative maintenance check on vehicles.

by on Apr.24, 2015

Checking lubricants and fluids are part of the preventative maintenance routine recommended in the spring, according to experts.

Most of the nation has shaken off the yoke of winter and spring is upon us, which means its time to live the famous refrain, April showers bring … potholes and rain mostly.

April not only marks the beginning of spring, but also National Car Care month. It’s the time of the year that motorists need to focus on replacing windshield wiper blades, check the air pressure in tires and to ensure brakes are safe and working properly, according to the Car Care Council.

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The council says that cars inspected between April and October 2014 revealed that 84% of vehicles need service or parts, up 5% from the previous year. (more…)

Goodbye, Mr. Goodwrench

GM to focus on core brands, abandon its auto repair line.

by on Nov.09, 2010

The Goodwrench name was long associated with GM racing sponsorships, especially NASCAR.

General Motors has sidelined thousands of workers since its bankruptcy, last year, and though it has begun rebuilding its job rolls as sales improve, the maker has decided to make at least one more cut: Mr. Goodwrench.

The long-familiar figure, the symbol of the company’s dealer service operations, is being retired as of February 1, 2011.  First hired on three decades ago, the Mr. Goodwrench brand is being set aside to allow for more specific brand-related “Certified Service” operations for each of the four automotive brands, Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC, that survived last year’s run through Chapter 11.

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“Our No. 1 priority is providing a world-class ownership experience that creates positive long-lasting relationships with our customers,” said Steve Hill, GM’s vice president for customer care and after sales.

The move doesn’t mean General Motors – or its dealers — are cutting back on the service side of their business.  Anything but; along with financing and insurance, and used car sales, that’s where most retailers actually make their money.  In recent years, selling new cars has often proved a showroom’s loss leader.


Auto Parts Retailers Show Sales Growth

Consumers make repairs to keep aging vehicles on road longer.

by on Aug.10, 2010

Are repairs less expensive than replacing a vehicle? In the long run, makers hope they are.

Auto parts retailers are gaining from consumers attempting to keep their aging vehicles on the road as the Great Recession drags on. Auto parts retailers experienced a seven percent growth in dollar sales for year-to-date April 2010 when compared with a year ago. Much of the volume growth came through the commercial channel, as repair shop bays filled up with aging vehicles.

Automakers are hoping for resurgence in new vehicle sales from aging vehicles, although a  new study indicates this may be a false assumption.

These findings are from the NPD Group, whose Aftermarket Industry Monitor tracks item-level sales at more than 18,000 U.S. auto parts store.

NPD says that the sales growth is driven by applications parts, which increased ten percent in dollar volume for the January through April 2010 time period versus a year-ago. The dollar gains came from real unit volume growth reflecting an actual increase in consumer transactions for replacement parts.


Consumer Guide to Fair Auto Repair Just Released

It’s claimed that car owners can save hundreds of dollars.

by on Apr.15, 2010

Electronic diagnostic tools are expensive and specialized, adding to repair costs. says that American Consumers are overpaying by more than $20 Billion on repairs. It is promoting an online auto repair service, which it claims can save you money.

The service walks car owners through the actions they need to take to make sure they get a fair price, and to help ensure that they are not paying for unnecessary repairs,

By using tips in’s Consumer Guide to Fair Auto Repair, the cost savings could be even greater than the nearly 14% achieved in an study.

A quick look at the site reveals mostly generic repair advice, and sparse listings of auto repair shops, which includes many car dealerships. It might be different in you locale.’s Consumer Guide to Fair Auto Repair uses four steps to ensure a fair repair experience at the repair shop:

  • Diagnose Problem Diagnose the problem before you go-with online diagnostics question-tree tools and how-to guides to perform a tangible, physical diagnosis (determine the issue or find questions to ask so you are not hit with unnecessary repairs).
  • Fair Auto Repair Estimate Tell the shop you will be using an online website such as to get industry standard auto repair labor hours and labor rates, as well as true part costs–and that you want your replacement parts back (this is a little insurance upfront to make sure you are not paying for unnecessary repairs). After they provide an estimate, counter with the fair price estimate to make sure the quote is within those guidelines.
  • Compare Auto Repair Shops Before authorizing work, use an online Shop Finder – at a site like where you can compare the shops’ average hourly labor rates, reviews etc. – to locate other area shops and call them to get several quotes over the phone.
  • Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate – once you are armed with an online fair price estimate, and quotes from other area shops, ask for a lower price.


Insurance Firms Push “Access to Repair Parts Act”

Automakers want to keep monopoly selling high profit parts.

by on Mar.31, 2010


Automakers use patents to stop sales of what they say are inferior parts from independents.

The National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) is pushing a coalition of consumer groups to support the “Access to Repair Parts Act” – H.R. 3059/S. 1368 – appear to be tied up in the legislative committee process from which they might never emerge for a full and open debate.

The bills (Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., introduced HR 3059 in the House. The  Senate version, S. 1368, was introduced by Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.) provide an exception to the U.S. design patent law to provide continued access to “affordable, automotive collision replacement parts.”

The latest clash between the insurance industry and automakers was apparently set off by an International Trade Commission ruling that enforced a car company’s design patents on several crash parts, excluding them from the replacement crash parts marketplace.

Automakers use patent law to prevent the sale what they deem to be inferior parts from independent suppliers, many of them based offshore. The resulting lack of a free market – a monopoly according to critics – costs consumers an estimated $2.8 billion per year in increased repair costs, typically when buying bumpers, fenders, and hoods.   (more…)

Repair Charges Much Higher at New Car Dealerships

Costs on average are 34% more compared with independent shops. Significant regional variations exist.

by on Mar.17, 2009

Shop around so you'll be smiling too.

Shop around so you'll be smiling too.

As new car sales languish, dealers are increasing the promotion of repair and collision services to make up for the lost revenue. If you aren’t careful, you could end up paying too much for their services. A new study from the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association says that consumers paid $11.7 billion too much last year for parts and service.

To arrive at this conclusion AAIA compared the parts and labor costs of 10 vehicle repair jobs for domestic and import brand vehicles in six cities, including Boston, Newark, Atlanta, St. Louis, Los Angeles and Seattle. The study revealed what AIAI called “dramatic differences” in the costs of parts and labor between domestic and import brands, and from city to city. For example, car owners in Los Angeles and Atlanta pay as much as 47% more at dealerships than independent repair shops for repairs; Boston and Seattle repairs at dealerships were only 20% higher.

“In response to repeated requests by congressional leaders studying the merits of the Motor Vehicle Owners’ Right to Repair legislation, AAIA commissioned a study to once and for all provide a comprehensive analysis that validated the contention that it costs consumers more to repair their vehicle at new car dealerships than at independent repair shops,” says Kathleen Schmatz, AAIA president and CEO. AAIA represents more than 100,000 repair shops, parts stores and distributors. (more…)