The mission of the Auto Care Association is to protect and advance the interests of businesses providing aftermarket products and services for all classes of motor vehicles. The aim is to help vehicles last longer, perform better, and keep drivers safe.
Despite the pandemic, the automotive aftermarket grew by 14.8 percent in 2021, and was expected to grow by 8.5 percent in 2022 followed by steady and sustainable growth from 2023 to 2025 (3.5 percent to 5.0 percent).
The association attempts to support this growth by providing advocacy, education, networking, technology, market intelligence, and communications resources to serve the collective interests of its members.
For example, the association funds and directs the Car Care Council which is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” campaign (www.carcare.org).
The campaign is a consumer education program about the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance, and repair. The purpose is to provide consumers with unbiased, expert information to make better decisions regarding vehicle maintenance and reverse the trend in unperformed maintenance.
Consumers neglect regular car care due to a lack of awareness of the issues caused by unperformed maintenance as well as misinformation and misperceptions on what needs to be done and when, and the lack of reminder mechanisms.
For example, the council’s car care guide underscores the benefit of frequent vehicle washing and periodic polishing to protect consumers’ investment. Keeping vehicles consistently clean to prevent build up of chemicals and dirt that can damage a car’s finish, and so forth.
Of course, no one understands this better than car wash operators who clean cars everyday for a living.
But do consumers?
For instance, the car wash industry has benefited greatly from the upward trend of car owners’ preference to use a commercial car wash rather than washing their own car, as well as monthly wash plans for customers who want to clean more frequently.
However, according to the literature, 6 percent of vehicles can’t use a commercial wash, 5 percent of consumers never wash their vehicles, and there is somewhere between 20 percent and 30 percent of consumers who are fairly infrequent car washers.
Arguably, with the average family taking a $400 plus hit to the budget each month due to inflation, we might expect an increase in unperformed vehicle maintenance.
For example, recent data indicates the annual maintenance cost for a 10-year-old car ranges between $350 and $1,000. There are also unexpected maintenance costs such as flat tires, dead battery, broken wiper blade, dents and dings, cracked windshield, weather damage, and so forth.
AAA recommends setting aside at least $50 each month to cover routine maintenance and unexpected repair bills. Arguably, this may not be enough given the consumer price index for auto parts has increased from 148 in 2020 to 172 in 2022 (April).
Consequently, this would not be the time to take one’s foot of the gas peddle in terms of marketing and promoting the benefits of using a commercial car wash.
Historically, commercial car washing was promoted as better for the environment in terms of less fresh water use and efficient waste-water disposal. With the advent of flex-serve and express conveyors, came saves time, less work, and more amenities (free prep, vacuums, towel program). Additionally, innovation in car wash chemicals has made hand waxing a push-button service.
Given the current economic environment, the emphasis today should convey to consumers how a commercial car wash can help them save money.