Repairs at dealerships drop, but costs rise

Americans paid less for auto repairs in May. But these repairs are more expensive than ever.

The figures come from a Cox Automotive analysis of Xtime metrics, which track repairs at car dealerships. The May figures show that the overall volume of repairs at car dealerships fell for the month, but the revenue received by dealers for these repairs hit a record high.

Cox Automotive is the parent company of Kelley Blue Book.

The numbers reflect two trends in the automotive industry.

The first is that today’s cars are built to higher standards than has always been the case. Major reliability studies that track cars over many years, such as those from Consumer Reports and JD Power, have consistently found fewer problems each year.

Our cars hold up so well that we rarely replace them. The average car on American roads keeps getting older – currently at 12.2 years old.

However, today’s cars are considerably more complex than those of just ten years ago. This leads to the second trend – when something goes wrong, it can be expensive.

Ten years ago, for example, most windshields were simple pieces of glass. Mobile repair trucks could replace most windshields in a driveway or parking garage for a few hundred dollars in half an hour. Today, some windshields have built-in sensors for driver assistance systems or rain-sensing wipers. Others function as screens for heads-up displays. Replacement costs for the most complex models can exceed $1,500.

About Dwight E. McCray

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