The total of unperformed automotive maintenance in the United States dropped by nearly $20 billion in 2003 to $43.3 billion, due in part to consumers’ uncertainty about the country’s economy and their own jobs, according to the 2004 “Automotive Aftermarket Status Report,” just released by the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA). According to Frank Hampshire, AASA director of market research, there are several reasons why unperformed maintenance dropped including the consumers’ desire to invest in maintenance with an uncertain economic future, a higher than normal rate of new vehicle sales which took many “maintainable” vehicles off the road and led to a more rapid rate of vehicle scrappage. “When money is the only issue, for example in the months leading up to Christmas, car owners will neglect vehicle maintenance,” Hampshire said. “When their job or economic future is uncertain, on the other hand, consumers will maintain their cars to protect their investment and to make sure the vehicle remains in good running condition.” While the rate of unperformed maintenance did drop from $62 billion in 2002 to $43.3 billion in 2003, Hampshire noted that the $40 billion in neglected automotive care remains a significant safety concern. “Some repair jobs, such as replacing worn tires or shock absorbers, are an obvious safety issue,” he said. But many other routine automotive maintenance jobs can pose serious safety hazards if neglected, Hampshire noted. For example, neglecting cooling system check-ups and oil and fluid replacement could result in a vehicle breakdown – potentially causing accidents in heavy traffic or stranding a motorist in an isolated area. “Many car owners never consider replacing their battery until it dies,” Hampshire said. “Consumers should consider the personal danger of having a dead battery in a deserted or remote area, especially after dark, and have their battery checked periodically,” he added. “Additionally, $43.3 billion is still a significant amount of missed business for the aftermarket and still represents an potentially enormous revenue generating opportunity for manufacturers, distributors, jobbers, retailers and installers,” Hampshire added. Of the $43.3 billion in unperformed maintenance, the largest product segment in terms of dollars that is being neglected are tires ($4.4 billion in unperformed maintenance) and shocks/struts ($2.7 billion). Hampshire also noted that the industry’s Be Car Care Aware consumer education program may be helping vehicle owners become more aware of when and why their vehicle should be properly maintained. “Status Report” has been published by AASA’s parent association, the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA), since 1998 to meet the need for a single source of information and analysis of future trends in the automotive aftermarket. The publication also includes a membership directory of AASA, MEMA’s aftermarket market segment association. “AASA has continued to produce this practical document that provides a guide for planning and policy decisions at all levels of the industry,” Hampshire said. “In today’s fast-changing automotive sector, a long-term view is a necessity. ‘Status Report’ provides an overview of the current industry situation and outlines some of the expectations and future trends within the automotive sector.” “Status Report” illustrates its detailed analysis with numerous charts and graphs. MEMA member companies can order additional copies “Status Report” for $125. Non-members may order the report for $500. Orders may be placed by calling 919-549-4800 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.