|While the new car market remains depressed and the used car market lifted only slightly in April some franchise dealerships and independent service centre are reporting an increase in the amount of servicing and repairs being carried out.
There is a growing trend for New Zealand and overseas motorists to repair rather than replace their vehicles.
The Motor Trade Association (MTA) is reporting a consistent pattern of growth over recent months throughout the vehicle service and repair sector.
According to MTA spokesman, Andy Cuming, this added accent on servicing includes the effect of owners holding on to their cars for longer in these troubled economic times and looking after them better.
“But this doesn’t account for it all, says Mr Cuming. “Increasingly vehicle owners are looking for the performance improvements that come with regular tuning, and which result in fuel economy and longer term savings as well.
“I think that nowadays there is a greater sense of spending money wisely,” he says.
Main Autocentre director Robert Braun says that the level of his service and repair work was particularly flat from April 2008 until January 2009 but lifted quite significantly in February and March.
“Last year we took on a contract for an insurance client to retrieve and inspect recovered stolen vehicles, which is not the most glamorous work, but it kept us busy, in the interim.” says Mr Braun.
“Now we find that owners of older vehicles have realised that they need to spend some money to keep their vehicles roadworthy. The trend seems to be that people are now prepared to repair their older vehicles rather than trading them in on a newer used vehicle.”
Schofields of Newmarket dealer principal Terry Honan says that in his experience previous economic recessions like 1987 saw mechanics laid off due to lack of work but this is not the case in 2009.
“Schofields of Newmarket has not experienced any drop off in business in the service department, indeed we are often booked up heavily in advance, and unless the work is urgent, people may have to wait two to three days for a booking.” says Mr Honan.
“We are certainly experiencing a different pattern of work in the service department, there is certainly a tendency for people choosing to repair rather than replace their vehicle. This is also a global trend. I have heard that even in small US towns, the busiest small business belongs to the local mechanic.”
Motor Industry Association spokesman Perry Kerr says that current new car market conditions are unlikely to change.