Toronto, Ontario – Canadians are spending an average of seven per cent less for vehicle maintenance and repair services compared with 2008, according to a new report by J.D. Power and Associates.

The study found that average annual spending on maintenance and repair has fallen from $920 in 2008 to, to $856 in 2009. The proportion of customers who say they “go to the cheapest place I can find for service” has also increased to 23 per cent from 17 per cent.

“In a difficult economy, vehicle owners seem to be delaying what they perceive to be non-essential maintenance or seeking out the lowest-cost option,” said Darren Slind, senior director and Canadian automotive practice leader. “In the long run, this may prove more costly in terms of vehicle reliability, but in the short term, consumers are dealing with other spending priorities.”

The study measures service behaviours, satisfaction and loyalty of owners of three- to 12-year-old vehicles. NAPA AUTOPRO ranked highest in satisfying customers, receiving an overall index score of 876 on a 1,000-point scale. It was followed by OK Tire at 858 points, and Pennzoil at 851 points.

New-car dealers are continuing to lose market share to aftermarket service providers. Overall, aftermarket providers now account for 59 per cent of the estimated $11.2 billion annual service market for vehicles three to 12 years old, up from 57 per cent in 2008.

“While a two percentage point shift may not seem substantial, this equates to more than $220 million in lost revenue annually for dealers,” Slind said. “Given declining new-vehicle sales, which are down more than 16 per cent in Canada so far this year, dealers must rely more than ever on their service and parts operations. We expect that dealers will fight back aggressively in the coming year to recapture this lost market share.”

At the segment level, aftermarket providers tended to perform well in the areas of service initiation, including ease of scheduling visit and timeliness of vehicle drop-off, and in vehicle return, including timeliness and explanation of work and charges. New car dealers performed well in the quality of their facilities, including convenience, comfort and cleanliness.

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