In 2009, the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) or “Cash for Clunkers” incentivized drivers to trade in their gas guzzlers for more efficient vehicles.
Most of these 690,114 vehicles are now four years old and have almost 50,000 miles on the odometer. This is a sweet spot you can’t ignore.
Top 10 selling cars for Cash for Clunkers:
1. Toyota Corolla
2. Honda Civic
3. Toyota Camry
4. Ford Focus
5. Hyundai Elantra
6. Nissan Versa
7. Toyota Prius
8. Honda Accord
9. Honda Fit
10. Ford Escape
If you look over the maintenance intervals for the top 10 vehicles, in the past four years these vehicles have not needed much more than oil changes and filter replacements. Hopefully, the drivers have abided by these intervals because seven out of the 10 vehicles on the list have maintenance indicator lights.
In the past four years, most of these vehicles have developed undercar problems. Most of these vehicles have had their brake pads replaced at least once and the rotors are at the discard specifications, except maybe the Prius.
Four of the vehicles in the top 10 have had rear brake wear problems. Four cars on the list have also developed rear tire wear problems.
Inspecting the Sweet Spot
These vehicles are a golden opportunity for undercar-focused shops. Even if the maintenance interval charts are sparse on replacement items, they are heavy on inspection for all the vehicles. At every oil change they recommend inspecting the brakes, chassis and tires.
The sweet spot gets even better when you look at the 36,000-, 40,000- and 50,000-mile intervals. These inspections typically include most of the fluids, HVAC system, drivetrain and most mechanical systems. Belts, hoses and the battery also get special attention.
The OEMs want you to inspect the items on the list so you can recommend the appropriate services to the customer. Sure these items could be ignored and the vehicle could run 100,000 miles without a problem, but after this, major part failures can be expected.
I always hear the line, “cars are just built better.” The real truth is cars are just built different and they will also last longer creating more service opportunities. Most of these vehicles do not have big jobs written into the service interval charts. You have to inspect.
The manufacturers have learned every driver and drive cycle is different. They also know vehicles are lasting twice as long and accumulating more miles per year than ever before. Instead of making blanket recommendations, they want technicians to inspect and make recommendations that can make the vehicle operate longer and be the most economically sound.