Americans paid for fewer car repairs in May. But those repairs cost more than ever.
The numbers come from a Cox Automotive analysis of Xtime metrics, which track repairs at car dealerships. May’s figures show that overall repair volume at car dealers was down for the month, but the revenue dealerships collected for those repairs hit a record high.
Cox Automotive is the parent company of Kelley Blue Book.
The numbers reflect two trends in the auto industry.
One is that cars today are built to higher standards than has historically been true. Major studies of reliability that track cars across many years, like those from Consumer Reports and J.D. Power, have consistently found fewer problems each year.
Our cars are holding up so well that we rarely replace them. The average car on American roads keeps getting older – currently at 12.2 years.
However, today’s cars are considerably more complex than those of just a decade ago. That leads to the second trend – when something goes wrong, it can be costly.
A decade ago, for instance, 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 embedded sensors for driver assistance systems or rain-sensing wipers. Others work as screens for head-up displays. Replacement costs for the most complex models can exceed $1,500.