Reversing earlier trends, all types of do-it-yourself (DIY) activity increased in 2006, according to new research from the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA).
A detailed analysis of the DIY market is included in the 2007-2008 AASA Automotive Aftermarket Status Report.
Based on consumer surveys of vehicle maintainers conducted by Industrial Marketing Research Inc., AASA grouped service jobs into light, medium or heavy DIY categories.
Examples of light DIY include replacing car batteries, adding antifreeze and installing a new air filter.
Jobs in the medium DIY category are more involved and include installing items such as brake shoes and pads and alternators.
Jobs in the heavy DIY category require the most knowledge and level of expertise and include replacing fuel injectors and head gaskets.
The data reveals that in 2006 52.9 percent of vehicle maintainers performed light DIY on their vehicles, compared to 40.0 percent in 2006. Medium DIY increased slightly to 29.4 percent in 2006 from 27.9 percent in 2006 and heavy DIY showed the smallest increase, rising to 25.6 percent in 2006 from 25.0 percent in 2005.
While the long term trend of decreasing participation in DIY remains, we interpret the increases in 2006 as the result of better marketing campaigns combined with easier access to repair information, said Steve Handschuh, president and COO of AASA.
Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of products available and are finding that online resources provide a wealth of step-by-step instructions, complete with illustrations, for many service jobs.
In the light DIY category, sales of headlamp bulbs showed the greatest increase, followed by car batteries and wiper blades.
Sales of radiator hoses showed the largest improvement in the medium DIY category and in heavy DIY, radiator replacements showed the greatest change from the previous year.
Fuel price increases in 2006 may have strained personal budgets, so consumers search for savings in other portions of car ownership is a logical reaction, said Frank Hampshire, senior director of market research.
Consumers looking for ways to cut repair costs may have performed their own maintenance, while those looking to improve fuel economy may have purchased products related to that end.
Another interesting fact shown by the research is that DIY activity is not exclusive to men. While the DIY segment is clearly male dominated, the second largest category is light DIY by females, so the influence of women in the DIY market must not be ignored.
The DIY market is comprised of people of all backgrounds who perform their own vehicle maintenance for a variety of reasons, Handschuh noted.
Successful penetration of the DIY market often requires different marketing and product placement tactics.