More Pop Hood To Tackle Minor Auto Chores

FramBad news for the economy is partly good news for auto-parts makers. In a reversal of what has been nearly a decade-long trend, Americans are now reporting that they are popping the hood more often to do basic maintenance, according to a new study conducted for Honeywell, which makes Fram, Prestone and Autolite products.

  The survey finds that 51% more American vehicle owners are doing their own car care versus a year ago and that 89% say they had not performed these tasks before, but had typically used a professional.

Says Jim Brown, director of communications at Honeywell Consumer Products Group (HCP): "Where in recent years folks might just add wiper fluid or change the air filter, they are now tackling more difficult tasks, just as generations before them used to do."

Per the report, 61% of those doing their own maintenance are topping off or changing the antifreeze, 54% are now changing the oil filter, and nearly a third (32%) report changing their spark plugs.



Brown tells Marketing Daily that much of the brands' focus has been online, with Fram, Prestone and Autolite offering downloadable videos and do-it-yourself tutorials on their Web sites.

"It's much easier now for motorists to learn how to do these things," adds Brown, who says the company has recently boosted its production of downloadable tutorials. "We have been stepping it up; Autolite has channels on YouTube with demos of things like how to change sparkplugs, and maintenance one can do to save money.

"We are doing lots of social-media outreach, videos and tutorials, and we have technical experts on forums on things like filter changes, gapping plugs, and antifreeze questions. We have been doing more for Autolite, but Fram and Prestone have started tapping into it in past month or two."

Fram recently launched a new branding campaign focused on how oil filters are as important to engine protection as motor oil, and promoting its range of filters through a proprietary engine-protection ratings system intended to illustrate the relative merits of Fram's Extra Guard, Tough Guard, Extended Guard and High Mileage filters. Tag: "Your oil protects your engine but what's protecting your oil?"

Brown concedes, however, that the bad economy is also having a depressive affect on after-market sales because car owners are doing the bare minimum. The study says more than one in five (21%) car owners are doing nothing at all to maintain their vehicles. The survey of 888 consumers 18 years and older was conducted for HCP by Kelton Research, a public-opinion company.

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