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Looking good again: expert sees increase in car repair

WEST SPRINGFIELD Many say that today's economy is like the perfect storm skyrocketing fuel prices, unemployment on the rise, groceries becoming more expensive. You name it; it seems as though everything is hiking in costs. And, the effects of the economy's plagues are definitely having an impact on the automobile industry, said Joe Houghton, operator of Maaco Collision Repair & Auto Painting in West Springfield, who added that people are repairing old vehicles instead of purchasing new ones to save on money. "Consumers are changing their buying habits. It's making more financial sense for some of them to repair older vehicles instead of purchasing new ones where they would have to worry about expensive monthly car payments and of course the increased gas prices," Houghton said. "Many members of our community have felt the effects of the economic downturn for the past several months and they are making changes in their buying choices so that they can hold on to more of their money. When they compare the costs of buying a new car and repairing an old one they see a big difference." In a recent Associated Press article, experts discussed how the status of the current economy has changed the shopping habits of Americans. The article noted how experts see that the "the new behavior fueled by higher gas and food prices, tightening credit and a slumping housing market is the most dramatic and widespread that they have seen since the mid-1970s." The report later references a study conducted by market research company Nielsen Co. that showed two-thirds of consumers are cutting spending because of the rise in gas prices, an increase of 18 points since last year. According to Houghton of Maaco, the local collision franchise located at 78 Sylvan St. is among close to 500 Maaco facilities that provide auto painting and body repair services for over 12,000 vehicles a week, 700,000 a year, more than any other company in North America. At Maaco Collision Repair & Auto Painting in West Springfield, Houghton said, the staff understands customer frustration with the status of the current economy and is willing to help them save money when it comes to their vehicles. "We can help keep a vehicle looking great so that local residents can keep more of their hard-earned money," Houghton said. "The great thing about it is that vehicles are being built much better and are lasting longer these days. More 10-year-old vehicles are mechanically sound and just need a little body and paint work to restore the 'new car' feeling." The 17 million vehicles repaired by Maaco since 1972 could create a 15-lane traffic jam clear across the continent. For more information, please call Houghton at 732-0086.

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