Article > Opinion

An American Love Affair

By Jon S. Owens

It's time for National Car Care Month Vehicle Check-Up Events!

Americans love their cars, right? After all, songs have been longingly written and sung about them. Entire movie plots have been based on this single point of passion and an entire sports genre has evolved around the simple premise of driving one car faster than another. Move over Major League Baseball and the NFL, America's so-called national pastimes, here comes NASCAR and the Indy Racing League.

Well, I hate to be a naysayer, but I don't buy it. Nope, you can't fool me. I don't believe for one second that Americans truly love their cars, and I have $60 billion worth of reasons to prove it.

As you all have probably read or heard by now, that $60 billion figure represents our industry's best efforts at estimating the amount of maintenance that goes unperformed each year on vehicles across the country - the very same vehicles everyone professes to "love" so much.

Some industry associates of mine challenge that number, while others accept it as gospel. Most don't have a clue as to how anyone could calculate such a number, so they just toil away at their jobs hoping it will go away. Besides, numbers have no place in affairs of the heart, right? I mean, we all know Americans love their cars, and we don't need no stinkin' numbers to tell us otherwise. Well, I, for one, believe the numbers (plus or minus some $10 billion to $20 billion) and I know how you can become a believer as well.

Next month is National Car Care Month and, as such, it represents the perfect opportunity for you to be involved in hundreds (if not thousands) of National Car Care Month Vehicle Check-Up Events held across the country. If you're not already involved in helping to stage a Vehicle Check-Up Event, either at your own store parking lot or in conjunction with one or more of your best wholesale accounts, then I suggest you get involved fast. If you need help, contact the Car Care Council at, or its parent organization, the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association ( Each of these groups can help you get immersed into all the mutually beneficial National Car Care Month activities.

Now for the numbers: Last year's National Car Care Month Vehicle Check-Up Events helped produce some astounding results for those who hosted them, along with some astonishing unperformed vehicle maintenance statistics for the industry. For example, 87 percent of all cars failed at least one element of the basic check-ups being performed. A third of all vehicles had low or dirty engine oil. One quarter had worn belts and dirty air filters, and 14 percent had windshield wiper problems. Another quarter of vehicles had low tire pressure, and a stunning 9 percent had brake light failures. At this rate, $50 billion or $60 billion in unperformed maintenance looks more and more believable with each car that passes through a National Car Care Month Vehicle Check-Up Lane. These Check-Up Lanes also serve another purpose: It will show your customers how badly they're treating the object of their affections. Consider these events to be a sort of "Relationship Counseling" intervention.

Next month, if you crank up the tunes and open up a National Car Care Month Vehicle Check-Up Lane, I guarantee you'll feel the love!

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