Three Trends for Auto Service Pros to Watch

The auto industry needs to be ready to react to great leaps in-vehicle technology.
The auto industry is constantly evolving, with astonishing leaps in technology turning something like a self-driving car from a sci-fi dream to a prototype in the time span of a generation.

But technological advances that change the landscape of the auto industry are nothing new. Not long ago, innovations such as fuel injection, antilock braking systems, and even check-engine lights were seen as the ultimate in cutting-edge technology.

Now, all sectors of the auto industry need to be ready to react to even greater leaps forward in auto technology.

For the aftermarket, this means being ready to meet new advancements and futuristic car models with complimentary upgrades in repair and maintenance services.

To stay on top of the tech evolution, aftermarket professionals should stay focused on trends affecting three sectors.

Autonomous cars
The possible proliferation of driverless cars represents the biggest potential transformation in the automobile industry.

On-demand mobility and data-driven services (crucial components of an autonomous-driving system) could create up to $1.5 trillion in car sales and aftermarket products and services by 2030.

This includes the cost of eventual software upgrades for self-driving vehicles. As with all software- and hardware-based technology, autonomous operating systems will need upgrades on a regular basis, just like a smartphone or a laptop. Whether those software upgrades one day will be provided to consumers by the IT department of an auto dealership, by aftermarket specialists or over the air remains to be seen.

Running parallel to the potential rise of the driverless car is a potential decline in private-vehicle sales.

More people will be turning to shared cars in the future, which would reasonably require more repairs, maintenance and parts replacement due to higher wear and tear from multiple users.

If more shared vehicles are also autonomous, following the example of shared car services such as Uber that have experimented with driverless cars, those autonomous shared cars will experience even more wear than regular shared cars.

In fact, they may almost never stop driving, instead of remaining constantly on the road shuttling riders from place to place. The need for maintenance and repair of such vehicles would be immense.

Not everyone will immediately sell their current car and purchase an autonomous vehicle, or rely only on a shared car. The aftermarket has time to take stock of the rise of the autonomous car and adjust for a shift in demand for services in the future accordingly.

High-tech enhancements
Aftermarket consumers have more choice in technology than ever before, even if not everyone will be buying a driverless car any time soon.

The increased variety of supply and demand for new technology, such as driver aid and infotainment, means aftermarket specialists will need to develop expertise and services catered to these types of enhancements.

High-tech auto enhancements can include products such as:

  • Head-up displays that keep drivers’ eyes on the road while also keeping track of GPS navigation and directional services
  • Driver-aid systems that include back-up cameras and other aids to help drivers avoid collisions
  • Cloud-powered systems that let drivers control services on the car through apps or to call for assistance while driving; and other apps or enhancements that connect multiple smart devices to a car via Bluetooth.

All of these technologies allow customers to dramatically upgrade cars without buying a new vehicle. They also represent unique opportunities for the aftermarket to learn how to adapt and provide maintenance and repair for these software products in the future.

To succeed in a world of constant auto-tech advancements and upgrades, automakers, suppliers and service providers need to leverage partnerships and alliances to find the highest quality and combination of services for consumers.

Industry momentum
Despite exciting new developments in car tech, aftermarkets have seen comparatively restrained evolutions in their services.

For example, in 2003 Tesla shook the car world with the introduction of the first modern electric car for consumers. The automobile industry saw this breakthrough technology as a major disruption to the traditional products and services they had been providing to consumers for more than 100 years. Today, EV sales are less than impressive. Impediments include high prices and a lack of a recharging network.

The industry’s reactive momentum was much slower than the initial tech push would suggest, and the aftermarket hasn’t needed to completely overhaul its services and products for an all-electric car fleet quite yet.

However, the vehicle-service industry should remain and has remained current when it comes to repairs and maintenance on newer operating systems. Technicians have received more specialized tech-related training than ever, attracting higher-tech consumer business. According to the Auto-Care Assn., there were 264 million vehicles in operation in the U.S. The future of the automotive repair business appears stronger than ever.

By: Randy Wright – president of Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care.

As originally featured in

  • Gail Parker
    Gail Parker

    The customer service was concerned about the parking area for my vehicle for overnight early bird service.They called me to inform me they were gonna check back with me before any services on my vehicle were done with my approval which, made me comfortable to know they showed responsibility in their work.

  • Leslie Meyers
    Leslie Meyers

    Fast, friendly, reliable and fair. I ended up having to get my town & country transmission repaired/replaced & my spark plugs replaced right before Christmas this past year & they said they could do it the next day if I could leave it that day. Well I didn't have a ride home & my other car needed a jump start since we hadn't driven it much. The owner not only offered to drive me home, but also jump start my other car so I could of get my niece from school. If that's not service, I don't know what is. They also ened up doing my 2014 escape transmission the yr b4. They were recommended by a friend & I would recommend them as well.

  • Hina K. Huynh
    Hina K. Huynh

    I purchased a "newly" used vehicle and was concerned about transmission issues and they made sure I was taken care of. The staff was extremely friendly and polite, and not only did they provide me with all the necessary services I needed, they also educated me. I would highly recommend this location.

  • Miriam Green
    Miriam Green

    The service was great. Someone recommended them to me. They took care of the issue I was having with my vehicle with no issues. I’ll be going to them from here on out! A very satisfied customer

  • Samuel Jones
    Samuel Jones

    Staff were all professional. Manager was a saint, gentleman, and scholar. Great company with excellent values. I would highly recommend them.

  • K. Raymer
    K. Raymer

    Kevin and his entire staff are the best. I had a brake caliper fail and they took care of very quickly and for a great price. Since then, I had new flare fenders with led lights installed on my Jeep Wrangler. Same great service and value.

  • Loren Vann
    Loren Vann

    I have been taking my vehicles to Cottman for the last year and I have never been disappointed. Kevin is the General Manager and I have known him personally for several years. This is an honest shop with quality work and great, trustworthy employees. Law Enforcement friendly, which is a major plus. It is hard to find a reliable place for vehicles now and days so skip the stress and take your vehicles here.

  • Stephanie Besos
    Stephanie Besos

    I love this place. came here a few years back, great work. just came in recently, wanted to wait a few days for the review.let me tell you Vicki was amazing and as helpful as can be and kevin did repair and excellent job on my transmission as well as work with me . had a world of trouble with my warranty place but they did their best to help with it all and my car is running excellent. will be back soon for oil change and any future repairs. thanks guys.

  • Stephanie Besos
    Stephanie Besos

    I love this place. came here a few years back, great work. just came in recently, wanted to wait a few days for the review.let me tell you Vicki was amazing and as helpful as can be and kevin did repair and excellent job on my transmission as well as work with me . had a world of trouble with my warranty place but they did their best to help with it all and my car is running excellent. will be back soon for oil change and any future repairs. thanks guys.

  • Conley Smith
    Conley Smith

    My experience at Cottman was awesome! The waiting lounge was very clean and looked great. The front desk staff was kind and personable. My wheels got aligned very quickly and they did a great job for an awesome price! The owner is extremely professional and quite handsome as well.

  • Randall Vann
    Randall Vann

    Best shop to have your vehicle repaired. Professional and timely. Owner gives fair prices and easy to work with. I would highly recommend to anyone.

  • Mike Villegas
    Mike Villegas

    The work was excellent and done in a timely manner. Found the best pri ce for the work needed!!!

  • Justin Davis
    Justin Davis

    Great customer service!! The staff was very attentive. A issue arose while they were working on my vehicle, and the mechanics diagnosed it and where back on track in no time. What I liked the most was that they kept me in the loop while they tried to find a resolution.

  • Steve Lilley
    Steve Lilley

    Fast and efficient service.