Auto repair: a recession-proof business?
Just as rain can be either a blessing or a curse, a recession doesn’t mean hard times for every kind of Park City business.
"Business is awesome," said Freddy Melchor with Summit Service Repair and Towing in Park City.
According to Tom Gordon, manager at Mercer Automotive in Park City, and Lucky Lukenbach of Lukenbach Radiator in Silver Creek, there’s a tendency for people to invest more in existing vehicles during a recession instead of buying new ones.
That isn’t necessarily true across the board for vehicle repair, however.
Last Thursday, National Public Radio’s Wayne Goodwyn featured the economic plight of Quality Colors Collision and Pro Shop in Dallas, Texas. He said they were worried about making payroll.
Russ Hammond of Ken Garff Collision Center in Silver Creek was far more optimistic when interviewed the previous day, but said rising costs are making his work difficult.
Parts prices for body repair have "gone through the roof" making full restoration an expensive proposition, he said.
The rule of thumb for collision repair is it should be no more than 75 percent of the total value of the car, otherwise, it may be wiser to get a new one. As the costs of parts rise, that figure is drawing too close for comfort, Hammond said.
What’s worse, smaller cars are becoming more expensive to repair, especially if the air-bag deploys and there’s bumper damage, he explained. More difficult still, because of the economy, some car owners are trying to get repairs done for less than the insurance claim to pocket the difference.
Chad Knaras, with CKM Quinn’s Junction Collision, agreed that people are trying to find ways to skimp on repairs and save money. While waiting to see what happens with the economy, they might go an extra thousand miles before getting an oil change and are only spending money on repairs that are essential.
Josh Parks, a mechanic at Auto Service Center of Park City, said he worries that people are jeopardizing safety or the life of their car in making these calls.
He’s also seen more people lately deciding to park their vehicle instead of getting an expensive repair done.
"They can’t afford to fix it, so they’re just not going to drive the car," he said. "But we can’t go lower on repairs."
One of the most common "quick fixes" Pauline Mecham at Park City Auto Parts and Hardware sees is people gluing vehicle lights in. This makes her nervous for their safety the next time Summit County gets a snow storm.
Such fixes won’t pass licensing inspections, but people are just trying to make it a few months longer to skimp, she said.
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