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Consider adding undercoating services

Friday, March 18, 2016 - 07:00
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Someday when you have the time, try the following social/business experiment. Ask your friends who aren't in the automotive service industry what their thoughts are on undercoating. There's a great chance you'll see plenty of eye rolls, some looks of amazement and comments like, "People are still paying for that?" Next, make the same request to service industry members. Odds are you'll likely hear responses such as, "You aren't selling that now, are you?"

Where (and how) did undercoating get such a bad rap? A big part of this story goes back over 40 years to the oil embargoes and gas shortages of the 1970s. Americans turned to more fuel-efficient Asian imports, many of which quickly built reputations for having serious corrosion issues after just a few winters. (in all fairness, so did many of the economy models Detroit began delivering.) Automakers responded by building vehicles with more corrosion resistance. Many dealers also began undercoating their stocks.

By the 1980's and 90's, manufacturers were building vehicles with significant upgrades in corrosion prevention, including their own factory undercoatings. Some dealers still continued to offer customers deals on undercoating, often with significant cost markups. Some consumer advocates began declaring the extra coatings unnecessary and overpriced. Post-factory undercoating became synonymous with dealer greed.

Applying a new undercoating can be a key element in keeping older models like this one in service.

Considering this history, it might seem unwise for any shop to get into the undercoating game today. Yet there are plenty of good reasons to think otherwise. For one, consumers are keeping their automobiles far longer--well past the expiration of factory corrosion warranties. Also, erratic weather patterns are forcing a wider range of motorists to deal with harsh conditions that promote underbody corrosion. New technology is making it easier for more shops to engage in this work.

Are undercoating services right for your shop? Considering the following market information and standard undercoating steps.

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