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Rob's Garage

An ounce of prevention is cheaper than the cure Add to ...

There's an issue that has been troubling me for a while now as readers ask me questions about vehicle repairs.

I find it strange that many automotive problems come as a surprise to people who send their questions to me. Humans have a tendency to procrastinate, but in the case of vehicular maintenance, which is outlined in a car's owner's manual, why is it that car and truck repairs are regarded with such disgust and surprise? Like us, they require a little TLC by scheduling regular "check-ups."

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J.D. Power and Associates' 2010 Canadian Customer Commitment Index Study identified a 13 per cent drop in annual consumer spending on vehicle repairs. The survey points out that the majority of this drop was due to the reduction in regularly scheduled maintenance. The affected vehicles were between four and seven years old - precisely the age grouping that would benefit from maintenance service lessening the likelihood for major repairs later on.

These figures were the result of two concerns:

1. A drop in the average dollar amount spent per service shop visit, and

2. A reduction in the number of visits to the service shop.

These are not outdated numbers; this survey was conducted between January and February of 2010 and between June and July 2010.

According to Ryan Robinson, director of the Canadian automotive practice at J.D. Power and Associates,

"Stagnant economic conditions may be one reason owners might postpone expenditures, including routine vehicle maintenance... there are also other factors contributing to this decline, including longer manufacturer-recommended service intervals, improved vehicle reliability and a slight decline in the average age of the three to 12-year-old vehicle fleet, due to strong new-vehicle sales during the 2006 and 2007 calendar years. It seems Canadian vehicle owners are becoming comfortable with the notion that they don't need to do as much to maintain their vehicles as they once did."

On average, Canadians spent $287 on maintenance per shop visit in 2010, down from $352 in 2009. But interestingly, the dollars being spent on actual repairs has remained stable.

So, back to my earlier observation; I'm not imagining that people are not performing due diligence when it comes to maintenance. And what's stranger is that at the end of the day, the motoring public seems content spending more money on repairs than trying to prevent break-downs in the first place.

I now know that Grandma was right - "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Read your owner's manual and maintain your vehicle. It's the second most expensive purchase you will make, and it's worth it to give your car the care and attention it deserves.

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