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Are Your Customers Ready for Summer Road Trips?

Do you encourage your DIY customers to make pre-trip inspections part of their routine?

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I’m writing this on the Fourth of July. By the time you read this, we’ll be deep in the heart of the summer. Next thing you know, kids will be heading back to school, football season will be kicking off and AAPEX will be upon us. Time flies!

My family had a quiet holiday at home this year, which means we weren’t among the nearly 40 million Americans who hit the road on July 4th (according to AAA projections). Nor were we among the nearly 47 million Americans who planned to travel at least 50 miles during the holiday week – the highest number since AAA started tracking the data 18 years ago.

AAA attributed the surge in travel to a strong economy and the fact that Independence Day fell on a Wednesday this year, which gave travelers more flexibility to schedule a trip the weekend before or after the holiday.

But it’s part of a larger trend: People are driving more. Vehicle miles have been at all-time highs in recent years, and 2018 should be no exception.

That’s good news for the automotive aftermarket, of course. We know the average age of vehicles is 11.6 years, and AAA data tells us that vehicles 10 years and older are twice as likely to be stranded at the roadside. Nationwide, AAA said it expected to rescue more than 362,000 motorists at the roadside during the Independence Day
holiday.

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To minimize the chances of a roadside breakdown (is there anything more stressful than car trouble?), the Car Care Council recommends a pre-trip vehicle inspection. During the inspection, motorists should:

  • Check the battery
  • Check the HVAC
  • Check the tires
  • Check all fluids
  • Check the wipers and lighting

The council also recommends inspecting the brake system, performing a tune-up, checking and restocking the emergency kit and fully charging cell phones before leaving home.

Do you encourage your DIY customers to make pre-trip inspections part of their routine? Are there any add-on sales opportunities here? As we put together our editorial calendar for 2019 (like I said, time flies), this is one of the topics we’re considering for next summer. We’d love to hear some of your thoughts on this or any topic of interest.

When it comes to educating consumers about vehicle maintenance and diagnostics, counter professionals and repair shops are on the front lines. In a perfect world, all motorists would heed the sage advice of their local counter pro or trusted repair facility. In the real world, though, we know DIYers don’t always have a firm grasp on what’s best for their vehicles (or a firm grasp on reality, in some cases).

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Still, we know you’ll keep fighting the good fight, dispensing your automotive wisdom to those of us who strive to be enlightened vehicle owners. Here’s to a great second half of the summer!

Editor’s note: This column appears in the July 2018 issue of Counterman.

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