Encourage Aftermarket Interest in Young DriversDo you remember when you got your first car? If you are an adult, your first car was likely simple enough mechanically that you could almost immediately perform basic maintenance and repairs.

Today, teens' first cars often come with engines so high-tech a wrench and a pair of gloves are no longer enough to begin learning to maintain a car. Few new drivers today have dismantled an engine and put it back together, let along have aftermarket interest.

If aftermarket companies wish to continue selling to home hobbyists, our industry must reach out to young drivers to encourage aftermarket interest and share the benefits of do-it-yourself vehicle customization and maintenance.

How Auto Aftermarket Companies Can Connect with Teens

To get teens excited about aftermarket modification and encourage aftermarket interest, reach them in places where they are already thinking about cars or driving.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Lecture an auto shop class. Auto shop programs are becoming scarce, but any in your area would likely welcome a guest speaker. Discuss basic maintenance and modification, as well as aftermarket careers.
  2. Volunteer with a safe driving program. Contact your local police department and ask about speaking to teens in safe driver education courses. Consider addressing responsible ways teens can enjoy enhancing their vehicles' performance without endangering themselves or others.
  3. Offer free tours for school groups. Offer your manufacturing facility as a field trip destination. There is nothing like seeing a part made to make young people want to know more about how it functions.
  4. Host an event. If you have a retail location, consider inviting teens to visit and learn from auto experts. Offer demonstrations of simple modification projects, like replacing traditional headlights with LEDs. Have mechanics on hand to help teens learn to identify engine components in their own cars.

What Should Teens Know About Aftermarket Modification?

Once you have located young people willing to listen, what should you teach them? Start with why you love your industry and business. Teens will respond in kind when they see that you are sharing something which genuinely excites you.

Do not speak in marketing jargon or try too hard to use slang. Talk to young people--not down to them--about what ignites your passion for the auto aftermarket industry.

Highlight the freedom that comes with the ability to fix one's own car with nothing more than a tool kit and a venue for ordering parts. Explain how a driver can express his or her individuality by modifying a car. Share your own stories of "project cars," mishaps, successes, and your road to leadership in the aftermarket industry.

When it comes time to recommend projects for learners, the same basic skills will come in handy for teens as long as cars are driven: Changing oil at home; changing a tire; changing a battery; replacing headlight and tail light bulbs; installing aftermarket sound components; replacing hoses; and replacing spark plugs.

A young person who can perform these tasks is well on the way to more advanced maintenance and modification.