Why do we purchase car repair?
Cars, those steel, aluminum and fiberglass boxes that we use multiple times per day. Why do we buy them rather than a horse & buggy or bicycle? After all, they cost a lot of money to purchase, operate and then there is this wonderful thing that we call car repair. We spend more money on cars than any other purchase, other than our homes! Many people don’t really like cars and own them for just 1 reason: Transportation.
Now, this isn’t the case with everyone. While they still use them for transportation, The folks that are known by names such as, Jeepers, hot rodders, racers, gearheads, petrolheads, tuners and RV owners, buy vehicles for a very different reason: Ego! (Yes, I happen to fall into the ego category, feel free to judge me for this!)
Ego is why your local car nerd will spend 50k on a vehicle and live in a 50k house, but the average motorist will own a 10k car and live in a 90-200k house! I noticed this difference after seeing how some people came into the shop and said that they wanted their car fixed right and money wasn’t a question (within reason of course) and would spend up to 5k on tires and wheels, but other people just wanted the bare minimum done to keep their car moving down the road.
In the case of the person that owns a car for transportation purposes only, most of them would sell their car and use another private transportation source in a heartbeat if it offered close to the same conveniences of owning their own vehicle. (convenience and privacy are the main reasons that buses are not used by a lot of people, even though they are readily available to urban and most suburban dwellers). This is a huge part of why Uber & Lyft are becoming so popular, especially among Millennials, who as a majority, don’t care much about cars since owning one isn’t a status symbol anymore (there is that ego again).
When you go to your local auto repair shop to get your car’s oil changed or to have one or more of many other services performed, you are purchasing transportation. That may sound strange at first, but if you don’t keep your car in good condition and it ceases to transport you from place to place, it is no longer a purveyor of transportation and is simply a really expensive place to sit and wait till a tow truck transports you to a repair facility.
When you stop and analyze your alternatives to owning a car, you will find out that it is actually the most affordable means of transportation that is available at this point in history. If you buy a bus, plane or train ticket, you are buying transportation. The maintenance cost of these vehicles is built into the price of the ticket, unlike your car which requires you to pay its monthly, quarterly or yearly maintenance costs in the form of gasoline and a bill from your favorite auto repair shop.
If you compare owning a car to using Lyft or Uber, you may find that these are cheaper than owning a car, especially if you live in a large city and don’t live very far from work. As of right now, Uber is not a fair comparison, since the company operates at a loss that is funded by investor capital. Their goal is to perfect the autonomous car, which eliminates the need for Uber drivers and upon full implementation, makes the company massively profitable.
So you may ask, why not just buy a horse & buggy?! Well, a horse needs to be fed even if it isn’t hauling you around, and it makes a dreadful mess that you need to clean up every day. It also requires its own barn, unless you aren’t a humane person. Cars don’t mind if you let them sit out in blizzards, rainstorms, hailstorms, droughts, hurricanes or tornadoes. And after all that, a horse still only gets you places at 15 mph at best. And, a good horse and buggy will cost you over 15k!
Bicycles? Well, maybe we should ride them more, but riding a bike in a thunderstorm doesn’t sound fun at all, and it still only gets you places at 30 mph unless you are Lance Armstrong or some other professional cyclist.
So, the next time you are thinking about going to a repair shop, remember that you are not sending money down the drain or up in smoke, but rather that you are purchasing the most cost-effective means of transportation that is available to you today. That may be changing in the not so distant future, but that is a topic for a different post.