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It may be harder to get a tow on US highways

A decline of automotive service centers nationally means a possible shortage of towing and road services during the next hard winter, according to the Lundberg Letter, an oil industry analysis.

The closing of full-service gasoline stations and the boom in self-service stations has sliced the number of towing and road service facilities. About 1, 600 auto dealerships closed in 1980 and about 900 more closed this year. Many others have moved to suburbs, leaving a demand for central city auto services. But a Standard Oil of Ohio survey says that there is a 57 percent excess capacity in service bays in the nation and that dealership closings represented less than 2 percent of service bay closings.

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According to Michael Scanlon of the National Oil Jobbers Council, the US is losing about 1,500 service stations a year and opening only about half as many service centers that specialize in brakes, lubrication, and tires.

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