|Vehicle repair costs rose 10 percent in 2012|
You may be shocked to hear that in recent months, car sales in the U.S. have increased dramatically, reaching pre-recession levels again. If you’re one of the millions of Americans contemplating buying or selling a car right now, the statistics may be interesting to you.
As of September 2013, the annual sales rate for the industry was just over 16 million cars, and some U.S. companies like Ford and Chrysler reported double-digit percentage sales increases in August 2013. So what is causing the rise in car sales? Analysts point to a number of possible factors, such as more affordable car loans and gradually improving employment numbers (CNN Money).
Now, what’s also interesting is that car repair costs in general are also on the rise. According to CarMD, car repair costs went up 10 percent in 2012, putting them at pre-recession levels. Labor costs also rose by a whopping 17 percent, and almost all of the most common repair procedures increased in costs (CarMD).
So what is causing the rise in car repair costs? Well, again, there are a number of factors for us to consider. First of all, the year of 2012 was unusually hot—in fact, it was the hottest year on record for the United States—and extreme heat can cause car parts like the battery and transmission to wear out more quickly. Second, it’s important to note that during this time frame the average vehicle age reached an all-time high of 11 years, which would understandably contribute to an increase in the frequency of needed used car repairs.
So what is the good news? Well, there are a few good things to report. First of all, cars are being manufactured to last longer, and as a result, check engine-related repairs decreased by 1.3 percent in 2012. Secondly, gas cap-related repairs (due to damaged or loose gas caps) have also decreased significantly, which may indicate better understanding on the part of consumers, as well as superior designs. Lastly, hybrid repairs seem to be getting cheaper, although hybrids still generally require the most expensive repairs (CarMD).
So what can you do to lengthen the life of your vehicle? CarMD and other sources recommend keeping an eye on minor problems and getting your car repaired regularly. If you want to get a sense of how much you may have to spend on car repairs or tire replacements, there are some sites on the web that will give you their prices online without having to go to the trouble of contacting a sales person. There are also some minor repairs you can do yourself without too much trouble; oxygen sensors and spark plugs, for example, are relatively easy fixes.
Getting regular vehicle repairs may seem annoying and unnecessary, but timely maintenance can save you a lot of money and hassle in the long run. If ignored, a $10 spark plug can turn into a $300 ignition coil repair; that’s something you do not want to deal with, especially in today’s relatively poor economic conditions. Keep your vehicle properly maintained and it will last you longer!