Williams said many of his current customers are retreating from buying new vehicles because the dealership could close, as some dealerships across the nation have done. Menze calculated that it would be cheaper to keep the suburban train running than to borrow for a new vehicle. He considered replacing them last summer, when gasoline prices were soaring to $4 a gallon.
It certainly doesn't hurt that many retailers are standing in the way, "said Mark Schreiber, president of the Automotive Service Association, which represents more than 1,000 auto repair shops and dealerships in Minnesota. He expects that number to continue to rise as car owners tighten their belts and take home more maintenance and repairs.
Recession, Lofald doesn't expect 2009 to grow like in other years, and for now his 29-year-old business is even comparable to last year. He added that, contrary to the nationwide trend, he had seen a marked increase in car sales in the past month.
A lot of people are actually resurrecting cars that they have kept in the garage, "he said. He said used parts are picked up as it is - there - and repair shops look for them to save money, he said, and said he has picked them up for about $1,000 a month.
Jeff Hofslund, who owns a Duluth auto repair shop with his wife and two sons, said his business has grown from 10 percent to 15 percent in the past year, boosted by customers hanging on to their cars. The store is run by a team of three employees, all working at the same time, he said.
In the current recession, more car owners seem to be making the decision to repair their old cars rather than buy a new one, he said, and when faced with that decision, they choose to repair their old cars rather than buy their new ones. Auto parts stores experienced a revival in business during the recession, because cars have to run even in times of tight cash registers. While winter is generally a quiet time for garages, some stores contacted last week reported brisk business.