Table of Contents | Background and Overview | Operations | Where to Go for Help | Glossary of Terms | Complete list of Links

Auto Repair Industry Background And Overview


In 2009, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transit Statistics, there are over 250,000,000 registered passenger vehicles on U.S. roads today. The average age of those registered vehicles is now 9.4 years, up from 9.2 years in 2008. As the number of aging vehicles increases, the number of auto mechanical malfunctions also increases. The care and maintenance of these automobiles is primarily entrusted to the auto repair industry.


Four types of businesses in the United States offer general automotive repair services: full-service gasoline stations, independent garages, automotive dealerships, and chain automotive centers. In the mid-1990s to early 2000s, full-service gasoline stations and independent garages experienced a decline due to the trend toward specialization in automotive mechanics and the competition offered by automotive dealerships and chain automotive centers. According to Manta, an online informational company that offers free information for companies (more than 60 million firms around the world) wanting to build and grow, there are over 130,000 companies that deal with auto mechanics in the U.S. As the number of generalized auto repair shops continues to decline, specialization in automotive repair continues to grow in demand.


Common performance problems addressed by engine repair mechanics included: no-start, hard starting, stalling, misfiring, vacuum leak, hesitation, surging, back-firing, run-on, pinging, vapor lock, gas line freeze, poor fuel economy, and lack of engine power. The most commonly worked-on jobs involve: brakes, lube and oil-changes, ignitions, cooling systems, steering and suspensions, electrical components, fuel systems, exhaust systems, transmissions/clutches, engine overhauls and air-conditioning. Like other businesses that use hazardous materials in their work, auto repair facilities are subject to federal, state, regional and local regulations including:


  • Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which regulates hazardous waste such as spent solvents, used oil, oil filters, anti-freeze, and absorbents.

  • Clean Water Act – regulates wastewater and storm runoff.

  • Clean Air Act regulates emissions from parts cleaners, vehicle air-conditioning, catalytic converters, fuels, paints and thinners

The EPA offers a good guidebook on regulations affecting auto repair facilities (EPA 305-B-03-004). Within this sector, you will find references to environmental and best-management-practice documents and processes that have been peer-reviewed for accuracy.

Within this sector, you will find references to documents and processes that have been peer reviewed for accuracy and are the latest state of the art techniques available in the industry. We have made a concentrated effort to provide internet accessible and downloadable Adobe pdf files in lieu of paper copies.


The Topic Hub™ is a product of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx)

The Auto Repair Topic Hub™ was developed by:

Western Sustainability Pollution Prevention Network
Western Sustainability Pollution Prevention Network
Contact email:

Hub Last Updated: 6/3/2010