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SERVICE STATIONS FADING AS BETTER-MADE CARS REQUIRE LESS REPAIR

 BETHESDA, Md., June 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Neighborhood service stations, once as ubiquitous as fast food restaurants, are slowly becoming an endangered species, as better-made cars, specialized repair shops and car dealers all threaten to push them into obsolescence, according to a new report by the Automotive Parts & Accessories Association (APAA).
 APAA's major study, the "Retail Distribution of Automotive Products," shows that the number of service stations has declined 35 percent since 1980, going from 158,500 outlets to 103,500. Full-line service stations -- establishments that carry tires, chemicals, engine and heavy parts, safety, sound and comfort accessories as well as perform almost all types of repair -- declined 55 percent since 1980.
 While the overall number of vehicle repair establishments (including general repair, specialty repair, dealers and other automotive) has also shown an overall decline, the drop was much less dramatic than for service stations, as specialists and car dealers became the repair establishment of choice for many motorists.
 "There are many factors contributing to the decline of service stations," said APAA President Lawrence S. Hecker. "Probably the most significant factor is that today's cars are better made, are technologically more advanced and need less frequent repairs. In fact, the average car on the road is almost 8 years old, and this average is increasing every year."
 When cars do need repairs, the study shows, motorists frequently bypass service stations to use specialty repair shops. Longer warranties bring cars back to the dealers for repair as well. Car dealers are also benefiting from many newer vehicles that can only be repaired at the dealership, where trained personnel have the knowledge, parts and equipment to handle the repair.
 "These trends may contribute to a rise in the overall cost of repairs in the future," Hecker reported. "As the number of repair outlets decline, so does competition between dealers and independent shops. This makes it less convenient for motorists to comparison shop and easier for dealers to charge higher prices for parts and labor."
 Other factors contributing to the decline of service station outlets are high employee turnover, which requires continuous and expensive training and the growth of discount and warehouse stores that sell tires, which is a major portion of service station business. Service stations face additional competition from quick lubes and muffler/brake/tune-up specialists, as well as auto parts and department stores.
 The "Retail Distribution of Automotive Products" study presents comparative, original data through 1980. Produced by APAA's Foundation for Aftermarket Industry Research (FAIR), the study is $1,500 for members, $1,700 for non-members and is considered a tax-deductible contribution to the foundation.
 Based in Bethesda, the Automotive Parts & Accessories Association is the only international automotive aftermarket association representing the entire industry. Its 1,500-plus member companies are manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers, distributors, manufacturers' representatives and others who make and market automotive products and services.
 -0- 6/26/93
 /CONTACT: Jami Deise of the Automotive Parts & Accessories Association, 301-654-6664/


CO: Automotive Parts & Accessories Association ST: Maryland IN: AUT SU:

MH-DS -- DCFNS1 -- 5974 06/26/93 07:31 EDT
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Date:Jun 26, 1993
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