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High Mileage Vehicles Need High Mileage Solutions

According to S&P Global Mobility, the average age of vehicles on the road in the U.S. rose to a record 12.2 years in 2022, representing a two percent increase from 2021.  Twenty years ago, a car might have changed hands once or twice and lasted 100,000 miles, Today, it is more common for a car to have multiple owners and last for 200,000 miles or more. This extended life cycle of today’s cars creates more value for both owners and dealers – but with one caveat. These high mileage vehicles need high mileage protection to keep the car and its value in tiptop shape.

There are a couple of other issues at play, prompting consumers to keep a vehicle past its ‘prime.’ Thanks to rising new vehicle prices, many consumers are financing their vehicles for upwards of eight years in order to keep the monthly payment in an affordable range. Consumers also factor in long-term reliability when choosing a vehicle, a key criteria in OEM marketing and brand preference.

Today’s older cars also retain their drivability and are in better shape than the days of a heavy metal chassis. Vehicle manufacturers are building cars with a longer lifespan, leveraging improved assembly processes, better materials, and placing an emphasis on vehicle safety guidance from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and Regulations. As a result, many of the top 15 longest-lasting cars are likely to reach 200,000 miles or more and also are ranked as the best-selling vehicles, based on automotive research firm

EFG Companies

Make the Most Out of Maintenance

Possibly since the dawn of the first dealership, dealers have known the importance of building repeat business through the service bay. The more the customer relies on your dealership for all their vehicle needs, the more likely they will return for that repeat purchase, creating a cycle that can last for as long as the customer is driving. However, that golden cycle of purchase-service-repeat seems more elusive than ever.

According to XTime Metrics and Cox Automotive, for service departments at U.S. dealer franchise locations, the Repair Order Volume Index in January 2022 decreased month over month by 9.0 percent from December 2021, while the Repair Order Revenue Index increased 1.6 percent during the same time frame. Repair order volume remains well below pre-pandemic levels, but revenue per repair set another record high. The service bay was less busy, yet revenue continued to boost the dealership’s overall bottom line, generating an average of $490 in revenue per repair order.

Service revenue proved so lucrative for retail automotive dealers in 2021, that six of the country’s largest dealers notched a 12.6 percent increase in the fourth quarter of 2021 vs. 2020, according to company filings. Clearly, measurable revenue can be driven in the service bay.


Will Interest Hikes Impact Dealerships?

Earlier this month, the Federal Reserve increased its interest rate by a quarter of a point, and signaled they planned six more increases throughout the year. In response, banks with large auto loan portfolios raised their prime rates from 3.25 percent to 3.50 percent. The theory behind this is relatively straightforward. By raising the federal funds rate a domino effect takes place, slowing demand for goods and tapping the brakes on inflation. Whether directly or indirectly, a number of borrowing costs for consumers will also rise.

Prices for new and used vehicles have skyrocketed so much in the past year that an increase in interest rates may seem like small potatoes. The average interest rate on new car loans was 4.39 percent in February, relatively flat from a year ago, according to Dealertrack. The average for used vehicles was 7.83 percent in February, down from 8.25 percent. Car buyers taking out loans for a new vehicle borrowed an average of $39,721 in 2021, an increase of over $4,000 from a year earlier, according to Experian. As a result, monthly loan payments hit a record high of $644.

Car loans tend to track against the five-year Treasury, which is influenced by the federal fund rate. But the rate a consumer pays is based on credit history, the type of loan, down payment, type of vehicle and other factors. Those buyers with poor credit could pay more than 20 percent over the prime rate. For a consumer qualifying at the prime rate, a quarter point increase on a $40,000 loan is about $5 a month, or another $300 over the life of a five-year loan. For a buyer at subprime or worse, a quarter point increase could make a significant difference on the type of vehicle, the terms of the loan or even a “no-go” decision to purchase a vehicle.