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Adding Tech Means More Frequent Repairs

Renee Stephens
By Renee Stephens Vice President, We Predict

Every day automotive manufacturers, suppliers, retailers and their partners work diligently to design, build and deliver new vehicles to customers who expect a problem-free experience. Service bays remain busy—and it’s not all just maintenance.

Renee Stephens

The push to launch electric vehicles (EVs) and the ever-increasing array of tech options will mean staying informed of repair trends will be critical.

Finding the Information

To examine service trends in the industry and review how EVs perform in the field, We Predict’s Deepview uses service records from across the U.S. Deepview is a continuous study of predictive automotive service repair frequency covering the experience of more than 500 vehicle models and 660 components from the 2000 model year to the present. Millions of service records from OEM-branded and independent service facilities are analyzed and combined with predictive analytics to report consistent, accurate comparisons across models as vehicles age.

Projected service incidents per 1,000 vehicles (PS/1,000) are compared across components and timeframes to find trends. Companies use Deepview to stay informed of the changing performance of their products in the field, understand how they perform relative to competitors and, most importantly, stay ahead of the trends.

Repair Trend Changes

COVID has resulted in owners, many still working from home, driving fewer miles, on average, than previous years.  We Predict’s most recent Deepview report shows 2020 model-year vehicles, despite being driven less, are projected to increase 5 percent in repair frequencies in the first three years of ownership compared with 2019 models.

With more technology in vehicles, electrical repairs are climbing the most with 21 percent more service repairs for 2020 models compared with 2019 models. Exterior and body structure repairs also are projected to increase 7 percent and 3 percent, respectively, in the first three years of ownership.  On the other hand, chassis, powertrain, interior and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) areas have experienced lower repair frequencies overall, showing improvement trends over the past six years.

An increasing number of models offer a growing array of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), pushing up repairs of those technologies by 181 percent for 2020 models. With multitudes of additional sensors and components pulling on the battery, energy/charging system, repairs increased 71 percent for 2020 models compared with 2019 models. Following a positive improvement trend from 2013-2017, infotainment repairs are trending up as those systems take on new functions. 

Mature systems also have seen increases in repairs. Windshield wiper/washer repairs rose 22 percent from 2018 to the 2020 model year.  Exterior lighting repairs increased 24 percent in 2020, with a 118 percent jump currently projected on 2021 models.  And after a four-year improvement trend, seat belt repairs also increased 143 percent from 2018 to 2020 models.

While these trends are important, the big question on many people’s minds is will EVs have fewer repairs than vehicles with traditional internal combustion engines (ICEs)? There are fewer parts to fail. Sure, some components are still the same, but service facilities should expect to see these vehicles less often. For maintenance, and as over-the-air updates are used more often, EV owners should expect fewer visits to their local service center.

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