U.S. consumers postponed some preventative automotive maintenance in 2002 in response to economic pressure, according to a new report. The decline may possibly be affecting the long-term performance of their vehicles, according to the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association’s analysis of U.S. automotive maintenance, “Replacement Rates of U.S. Automotive Parts 2003.” This study, in pocket guide format, tracks replacement rates for more than 50 categories, some for as long as five years. “We saw several categories of replacement rates that were steadily increasing until a sudden drop in 2002,” said Frank Hampshire, AASA director of research. Preventative maintenance such as air conditioning recharging, air filter replacement and cooling system flushes decreased in 2002 after four previous years of gains. “These tasks do not present a serious safety risk for drivers, but they do affect the vehicle’s fuel-efficiency and longevity,” Hampshire noted. For example, not replacing the vehicle’s air filter can cause a car to burn more gas. “Trying to save money by postponing preventative maintenance can cost a vehicle owner more money in the long run,” he said. “Replacement Rates 2003” is a three-panel pocket card that has been published by AASA’s parent association, the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA), since 1999. It reports the number of privately owned, light vehicles in use for the years 1998 to 2002 and shows the incidence of component replacement and service jobs for those years. This handy card explains how to use these calculations and the existing replacement rate percentages. MEMA members receive one copy of “Replacement Rates 2002” as part of their membership benefits. The card is available to nonmembers for $50 per copy. MEMA produces “Replacement Rates” in conjunction with Industrial Marketing Research of Clarendon Hills, Ill.