False warranty concerns continue to dog aftermarket ASPs

by | Jan 23, 2020 | 3 comments

Independent automotive aftermarket service providers face an uphill battle as more than one-third of Canadian consumers falsely believe they’ll void their warranty if they bring their vehicle to a independent automotive service provider.

Canada’s independent automotive service providers (ASPs) may be winning with customers for their repair cost and trust, but when there are still significant barriers to winning the hearts and minds of Canada’s reluctant repair and maintenance consumer, says the latest report in the Automotive Industries Association of Canada’s Consumer Behaviour series “At Your Service: How Do Canadians Select their Automotive Repair Shop”.

But among the details of how consumers rate the various players, which do provide some key insights on where the independent players fail to meet, or at least are seen to be failing to meet, the same standard set by dealerships, is a significant barrier: more than a third of respondents, 36%, believe that if they brought their vehicle to an independent, their warranty would be nullified.

This despite ongoing messaging by industry players to the contrary.

“AIA is we well aware of the issue,” says J.F. Champagne, AIA president. “We continue to provide the Notice to Consumers about the fact that as long as you are following the recommendations from manufacturers it does not void your warranty. We need to continue to educate the shops and they need to have the plaques and they need to continue to provide this information to the consumer.”

Champagne says that AIA members continue to access the messaging, often customizing it to be consistent with their own branding.

This latest research adds to a growing base of information provided by the association. This report is the second time the same issue has been researched, the first was three years ago. AIA’s Champagne says that trends have emerged that can help aftermarket players put actions in place for a changing marketplace.

Across the 10 attributes considered in this study, chains and independent service shops are seen as outperforming dealerships on two key dimensions, notably on price and in terms of being trustworthy.

And both independent automotive service providers (ASPs) and dealerships fare quite evenly when it comes to delivering the vehicle on time.

But the devil in the details for the independent service shop is that they are still seen to be far behind dealerships in terms of how consumers are greeted, treated, and kept informed by service advisors of what needs to happen to their vehicle. Independents are also seen to be significantly behind dealerships in quality of work.

Study participants were presented with an ‘outperformance score’ consisting of a series of 10 attributes. They were asked to use a sliding scale (from 0 to 10) to indicate the extent to which chains and independent service shops outperform dealerships on those attributes or, by selecting the midpoint, they feel they perform equally.

While overall ratings put independent ASPs and dealerships on more or less equal footing—there was effectively a three- way split among those who felt ASPs were better, dealerships were better, or both were the same—warning signs for the independent sector can be found in perceptions of quality of work, quality of parts, technical competence, and cleanliness of the shop.

That last point saw a striking gulf between dealerships and independents; the 50% vs. 9% ranking was the largest gap of all factors.

Who is better at . . .                                      ASPs      Dealerships

Value for money                                            59%       18%

Being trustworthy                                         36%       25%

Having a helpful service advisor                22%       35%

Delivering on time                                         20%       26%

Quality work                                                   19%       32%

Customer service                                           17%       29%

Technical competence                                 15%       37%

Proactive notifications                                 15%       47%

Quality parts                                                   11%       40%

Clean shops                                                     9%         50%

“The AIA continues to invest in research, providing factual information to the aftermarket,” says Champagne. “We as an industry are being disrupted, and as people are trying to figure out the next steps, they need to have the information to make informed decisions.

“This is for the benefit for everyone in the aftermarket, but particularly at the ASP level.”

Visit www.aiacanada.com


  1. Murray Voth

    What does not surface in the research is that many new car dealer staff are knowingly or unknowingly lying to the consumer. Consumers are being told by dealers that they must come to the dealer or they warranty will be voided. The research should include mystery shoppers to find out how much it happens.

    • Andrew Ross

      I believe this to be true. Some years ago a dealer principal told me gleefully that he had a customer’s car pushed out of the bay and threatened to void their warranty because they had an aftermarket oil filter, an oil filter I might add that was made on the same production line as the OE unit (and he knew it). Corporately, automakers choose their words carefully and are good corporate citizens. It’s not always so at the dealer staff level. If cases of this do come to the attention of the aftermarket, they should in the least advise the AIA.

  2. Bob Ward

    As service professionals it is up to us to promote ourselves as being qualified to do vehicle service. We can say we perform warranty approved service using approved products. An easy way to do this is to say we look the vehicles over very closely to spot any potential warranty issues before the vehicle warranty expires. We, as licensed technicians also have access to recall notices and technical service bulletins that we can share with our customers. The quick lube shops usually don’t employ licensed technicians or have access to information we do. These are benefits that we can use to promote ourselves. We CAN get this business if we choose to go after it.


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