Drivers Head Online to Maximize Mileage
and Extend Vehicle Life
By Famous Rhodes, eBay Motors
Cars and trucks on the road are flat out old – the National Automobile Dealers Association reports that the average age of vehicles on the road is at a 15-year high. This has more and more drivers investing in the maintenance and care of their existing vehicles. To not break the bank on repair costs, these drivers are saving money by fixing and upgrading relatively easy-to-install parts on their vehicles. Drivers are also finding ways to improve the fuel efficiency of their vehicles through do-it-yourself modifications. Where are they finding all of the necessary parts and accessories for these modifications? Online. To save costs, and time, drivers are increasingly turning to the Web to source simple maintenance items such as windshield wiper blades, all the way up to air intake and exhaust systems.
A full 90 percent of automotive parts buyers source the internet for information. These shoppers are expected to generate nearly $9 billion in online parts and accessories sales expected by 2014*. Before online shopping, consumers had to go to an auto parts store or a local dealership to find out what part was needed and when it would be in stock if not on the shelf already. If it was an unusual or not widely available part, the wait might be weeks long. Now, consumers can go online to sites such as eBay Motors, simply enter the make and model of their vehicle and quickly find parts that match their car or truck.
Drivers can also find out if the parts are available locally or by mail, and make the decision to buy new or used. At the same time, armed with product information, consumers can comparison shop for that part to find the most financially feasible option, including details like whether or not a part comes with a warranty or even installation instructions. There are even resources like DriverSide.com’s Car Diagnostic Tool that allow drivers to diagnose problems with their vehicles by entering ‘symptoms’: rattling, squeaking, lack of acceleration, etc. More seasoned DIY’ers can purchase equipment online that will perform diagnostic checks on electronics, and when the dreaded Check Engine light comes on.
Fuel prices also have drivers scrambling to save cash any way they can. According to a Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence survey, 70% of shoppers say that gas prices impact the type of vehicle they consider. In the past year, customers have spent more than $143 million on alternative fuel vehicles and those that average 30 MPG or better. But consumers are learning that purchasing a new alternative fuel vehicle is not the only way to maximize mileage. Drivers are also installing the parts and accessories needed to improve the fuel efficiency of their existing vehicles. This spans from simple fixes such as updating tires and air filters to more in-depth modifications such as conversions from gas to diesel or E-85 Ethanol systems. On eBay Motors, four of the top ten fastest growing parts categories have to do with fuel efficiency: emission modules/control units, exhaust, cold air intake and air intake and fuel delivery.
For beginning do-it-yourself auto repairers, or for an unfamiliar project, many of the sellers of parts and accessories on sites like eBay Motors offer installation guides. Recognized auto repair manual publishes such as Chilton, with guides available online, are another valuable resource. Another option for consumers is to shop for parts bundled with services, enabling them to save money on parts while leaving the installation to professionals.
Recycled parts and accessories also provide the double benefit of costs savings and a reduction in environmental impact. Recycled and salvaged OEM parts can provide up to a 50 percent savings compared to comparable new parts. These parts are becoming a widely available and attractive option for consumers. For example, in mid March, more than 4.5 million listings for recycled replacement parts were available in the U.S. on eBay Motors. In the past year, consumers spent more than $500 million on recycled replacement parts on eBay Motors.
Though gas prices continue to have a growing impact on household budgets, and environmental concerns continue to rise, the options for consumers to cope with these issues are growing as well. Whether they are looking for an inexpensive replacement for windshield wipers or a complete fuel conversion kit, shopping for parts and accessories online empowers consumers with the ability to take proper care of their vehicles, and their bank accounts.
*eBay Motors and Forrester data