Auto Service World
News   May 1, 2024   by Adam Malik

From the Magazine: Aging fleet

Vehicle age shows no signs of slowing down. Motor oil needs will continue to vary, forcing distributors to have many options available

Oil background with air bubbles

Vehicles are getting older. And that’s not set to slow down for at least the next couple of years.

As average transaction prices reach around $53,000 and new vehicle supply improves yet remains below ideal levels, Canadians are retaining their vehicles for extended periods. As a result, jobbers must stock a broader range of parts, components and fluids to accommodate a wider age range of vehicles.

“Parts proliferation in the car and light truck aftermarket will soar for the foreseeable future, increasing inventories and the logistical burdens on manufacturers, distributors, retailers and installers,” noted Lang Marketing in its recent report, Aftermarket Parts Proliferation Explodes.

As average vehicle age grows, the vehicle age range is extended for which aftermarket inventories need to supply.

“The growth of older vehicles [is] shifting mileage from newer to older cars and light trucks,” Lang reported. “This increases the need for older-vehicle parts to remain in inventories for an extended time.”

But this situation isn’t only growing the number of parts needed to remain in inventories. It’s adding new ones, such as motor oil options that can handle older, higher-mileage vehicles.

“With consumers being price-conscious, they are keeping their vehicles longer,” explained Sean Nguyen, Pennzoil’s technical scientist and automotive lubricant specialist. “Thus, they are accumulating more miles in these vehicles. Shop owners need to have available synthetic high-mileage oils available for these high-mileage vehicles.”

Lenny Levac, vice president for sales in Canada for Liqui Moly, pointed to motor oil additives that can rejuvenate aging seals.

“This can be used with any new motor oil when doing a new oil change,” he told Jobber News. “Additionally, to this, regular oil changes will help this older vehicle, make it longer.”

Suppliers are committed to working with their distribution partners to ensure they’re up to date on the latest offerings. So when a shop calls looking for a recommendation or a specific product, the jobber will know what to give them.

“We are working closely with our distribution partners to foster an effective partnership that caters to the needs of customers.”

“We are working closely with our distribution partners to foster an effective partnership that caters to the needs of customers,” Nguyen told Jobber News. “We are committed to equipping our distribution partners not only with the correct range of products for their vehicles but also with essential knowledge and expertise in motor oil.”

Levac stressed the importance of listening to the market and keeping abreast of changes.

“Being so active in the market helps tremendously see where the DIY is going and the pros. With our offering we see both segments growing here,” he said.

One thing being seen is consumers in search of cost savings.

“Customers do have finances top of mind here in Canada,” Levac said. “With costs continuing to rise in so many aspects in Canada, we need the most value we can find out of the products we purchase.”

And oil service is one of the most important and basic needs for a vehicle. Customers may look to bypass this.

“While consumers may be tempted to extend their drain intervals to stretch their buying dollars, we advise against it,” Nguyen said.

Furthermore, Levac added, it’s important for jobbers and shops to also engage with their suppliers to ensure they’re getting what they need.

“The relationship between us and our customers and partners is so profound and sustainable that we only need to continue on the right path to be successful,” he said.

There is ongoing collaboration with the industry, noted Nguyen.

“In the upcoming months and year ahead, we have several opportunities to collaborate with our distribution and shop partners,” he said. “This includes ensuring that their counter staff is well-versed in essential motor oil information, providing education regarding the upcoming changes in 2025 with the new GF-7 specification, and gaining insights into consumer hesitancy and resistance towards their purchases.

This piece originally appeared in the March/April issue of Jobber News

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