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Feature   April 5, 2018   by Geoff Kirbyson

Change of season brings opportunity

Changing technology and vehicle demands are creating new areas of growth in traditional categories


As spring turns to summer, parts retailers across North America will begin restocking their shelves as the busy driving season approaches.

But the products they order will be different than even just a year ago.

Sure, cars and trucks still need batteries, oil and filters and cooling systems but experts say the continued advancements in product development means jobbers will need to keep up to date on the latest trends to make sure they’re giving their customers what they need.

Anybody who thinks motor oil is motor oil isn’t paying attention. Ian Hutchison, Toronto-based brand manager of Wakefield Castrol Canada, said General Motors has recently launched a new specification of oil, Dexos1 Gen2, to be put into its new vehicles.

It’s designed to protect against low-speed, pre-ignition, which is a growing concern with turbo-charged engines. Drivers who are cruising along at low RPMs and then step on the gas a little are causing the piston to go up and the fuel is igniting before it starts to go back down, which can cause catastrophic engine failure.

“Engine technology has changed and the evolution of motor oil has to keep up with those changes,” he said.

Failure to put the new generation of oil in new GM vehicles could mean the driver has to buy a new engine or have the existing one completely rebuilt.

“It’s the equivalent of punching a hole in your piston,” Hutchison said. “The risk is if [jobbers] are selling their installers the old spec and an installer has a new GM that comes in, that car could fail and GM won’t cover it because it would have the wrong oil in it.”

Wipers

The season may matter, however, when it comes to wiper blade replacement. A harsh winter can mean drivers are in need of a new set. It’s an area often overlooked by jobbers.

“Wiper blade replacement remains one of the aftermarket’s most underperformed sales and service opportunities, in spite of the fact that new wipers provide an immediate, visible benefit to the consumer,” said Rebecca Mahan, brand manager of Michigan-based Federal-Mogul Motorparts, which makes the Anco and Champion wiper brands.

“Jobbers who are more successful in this category understand the importance of promoting wiper replacement at the point of sale, both within their stores and in the waiting rooms of their service shop accounts.”

Batteries

With increased acid stratification in car and truck batteries, Canadian Energy & Power Corp. is now carrying MIXTECH, a high-tech battery for hybrid vehicles that mixes the electrolytes inside as the vehicle is moving. When the heavier sulphuric acid would settle in the bottom of the previous incarnations, it would cause a charge imbalance and corrode the plate structure must faster, drastically reducing battery life.

“Jobbers need to be sure they’re putting the right battery in the right application when their customers are replacing batteries in start-stop vehicles. Otherwise, it will be a big hassle and cost more money for their customers.”

— Randy Anderson, Canadian Energy

The problem arose with “start-stop” vehicles because the engine would shut off whenever the driver stopped at a red light or stop sign and then start up again when they hit the gas pedal, all of which is designed to save fuel, said Randy Anderson, national sales and training manager at Canadian Energy.

“The batteries could be restarting 10, 20 or 100 times per day. While you’re sitting there (not moving), all of the electronics of the vehicle are running off the battery, such as the heater motors, the wipers, the heated seats, the radio and the GPS,” he said.

“Jobbers need to be sure they’re putting the right battery in the right application when their customers are replacing batteries in start-stop vehicles. Otherwise, it will be a big hassle and cost more money for their customers.”

Cooling

Summer might seem like the perfect time to forget about your antifreeze but Marie Yeager, New Jersey-based product manager at CRP Industries Inc., said motorists shouldn’t let the name fool them.

With rising temperatures, vehicle engines will get hotter, meaning it’s even more important that the cooling system is doing its job and cycling anti-freeze throughout the car or truck. Many motorists don’t think about that and don’t flush the system at proper intervals, she said.

“They change it when they change it. They’ll top it off and think, ‘that’s OK.’ All cars are different but for the most part, it’s 60,000 miles. I’d check the manual,” she said.

“There’s a lot of noise in the market now that you can use a universal antifreeze and put this bottle in any car. Antifreeze is car specific and each car is built slightly differently. A hybrid has more copper under its hood than a normal car, which has more aluminum. The chemical reaction is different,” Yeager added.

Jobbers need to be sure that they pick the right antifreeze to match the specifications of different vehicles. Using the wrong one will cause the metal to discolour and corrode after a few months, requiring the replacement of parts in the cooling system.


Read the full feature in the March 2017 issue of Jobber News


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