Earth Day: How Auto Repair Helps Protect Our Planet

If you could see the world from outer space, it could easily change your perspective on how and why we do auto repair.

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station orbit Earth every 90 minutes at 15,500 mph or 5 miles per second. They literally get to see a sunrise and a sunset multiple times in a day. From that vantage point, the images of Earth are truly incredible.

Showing Earth from space doesn’t suggest we want to leave Earth (like some billionaires are doing). Instead, it shows how small and fragile and precious it is and how we are all connected.

Therefore, we all have a role to play to protect it as best we can.

How the auto repair industry helps

Cars make a mess, just by their nature of operating. Meanwhile, repair shops try to keep them running as long as their owners want them. That way, they don’t become waste stacked up in junkyards when they still have miles of use left in them.

Stacks of cars in a junkyard under gray clouds

As auto repair shops (at dealerships and as independent garages), we “take out the garbage” for manufacturers in many ways. Dealers sell their vehicles without taking responsibility for their products’ impact in service, on the road or at the end of life.

As a result, we end up cleaning up their messes throughout a car’s lifespan. How do we do that?

  • Auto repair shops carefully collect and dispose of countless amounts of:
  • Motor oil
  • Coolant
  • Transmission fluid
  • Brake fluid
  • Differential oil
  • Scrap metal
  • Tires and other rubber materials
  • Bulbs
  • Batteries and e-waste
  • Packaging material from everything exchanged on cars (all parts, fluids, etc.)

An auto shop’s proper disposal of these materials keeps them from entering the environment. Thank you to every shop that does its part responsibly and with a smile. You are part of the solution.

We not only collect motor oil but we arrange for it to get refined. This makes use of existing materials without having to pump the new stuff out of the ground. And that’s just one of the fluids we deal with every day.

The more we use recycled parts, the fewer materials need to be extracted from the planet and turned into components. By drawing from a variety of parts suppliers, you save customers money and preserve a little more of the planet.

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What else can we do?

For starters, we can think beyond the car and look at our operations. If you’re using reams of paper to track your ROs, then you’re eating up trees every day. By using a cloud-based system, you reduce your carbon footprint.

Switching to a contactless payment also gives your printer a rest. Customers are getting e-receipts when they make other purchases so this is now the norm.

Despite consumer doubts for decades, electric vehicles (EVs) show up more and more on our roads – and in our shops. By embracing training on these cars and trucks, we give drivers fewer excuses to stick with gas-powered versions.

While some dream of an all-electric future, the precedent we’ve seen is to simply throw the broken electronic thing away. That brings us to…

Get a handle on Right to Repair

This movement aims to wrestle control from manufacturers – not just of cars – so other people can fix them. That way, fewer phones, appliances and other devices go into the garbage just a few years after coming off the assembly line.

Many companies create a throwaway culture by making repairs too difficult. Face it, our techs can fix anything if given the chance. But a culture of planned obsolescence gets people to buy more stuff, which is great for the makers. That adds to wasted natural resources and energy use when we need to rein in any planet-warming emissions.

This not only applies to parts but to the software systems within these devices. Car makers defend their data by saying they aim to protect their clients. Do you really buy that?

The Auto Care Association has been doing some stellar work on this issue. There are a few ways you can help:

Every day, people working in the automotive aftermarket make efforts to help manage the impact of automobiles on our planet. And they will continue to play a central role as long as we have cars on the road.

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