By Adam Malik
Summer is time for a lot of things, including DIY oil changes.
Across Canada, auto enthusiasts and would-be mechanics are gearing up for to do oil and filter jobs in their driveways. The first thing they’re going to need is the oil… that’s not always a straightforward purchase.
There are significant changes for jobbers looking to meet customers’ oil and filter needs.
“One of the most important trends in the oil market is the movement to oil formulations that are GDI certified,” said Ian Hutchison, marketing manager with Castrol Wakefield Canada Inc., in Toronto. GDI certification is identified as GF-5
SN+, an interim specification between GF-5 and the delayed launch of GF-6, which is being developed specifically for the challenges of gas direct injection engines.
Although these engines have been in the automotive market for a decade, they have now become the dominant technology thanks to enhanced performance and mileage gains, Hutchison noted. However, he pointed out, they also bring with them the possibility of a low-speed pre-ignition (LSPI) issue.
“This problem can result in significant engine damage with the very real possibility of complete catastrophic engine failure,” he said.
The new GF-5 SN+ oil spec defines a specific additive formulation that helps combat LSPI, but it is important to know that this spec is not mandatory for oil blenders to meet.
“This means using many of the low-priced motor oils may put your customers at risk for low-speed pre-ignition as the lower-priced oil formulations may not meet GF-5 SN+ spec,” Hutchinson said.
More changes are imminent as government regulations demand lower emissions and higher mileage from automotive manufacturers. The emerging trends are to lower viscosities and, in many cases, OEM-specific specifications beyond the standard industry specifications.
“Not using these oils in an engine that demands it, can result in … engine failure, so it is important to stock the right product,” Hutchinson said. “This means that a typical workshop will be challenged to have more grades and specs on hand or in some cases will demand their jobber be their inventory managers and deliver smaller package sizes, such as five-litre jugs, often the same day.”
Also on the horizon is 0W16 grade oil, which is already being specified for some Toyota products and is expected to extend to more OEMs very soon.
“Many workshops are addressing these inventory challenges by moving their bulk oil tanks to fully synthetic products that meet the broader demand of the more diverse profile of cars coming into a typical workshop,” Hutchinson said.
Jobbers will need to work more closely with their shop customers to develop a strategy to help them manage their inventory of on-hand motor oil based on their customer profile.
“Work closely with your oil manufacturer sales representatives to develop simple business solutions for your workshops and garages,” Hutchinson said. “Today, the winning solution is much more than just a low price on bulk oil.”
Aftermarket demand for automotive filters throughout North America is forecast to advance 2.4 per cent a year for the next three years and hit US$4.1 billion, a new study from the Freedonia Group, a Cleveland-based industry research firm has concluded. Among the factors driving this growth are a greater number of miles being driven annually, increases in raw material and product prices, and relatively stringent environmental regulations.
Oil filters comprised the largest share of the North American automotive filter aftermarket in 2016, totalling US$1.6 billion in sales and representing 44 per cent of the market. These products hold a leading share of the market due to the frequency with which oil changes are performed as a part of routine maintenance. Engine air intake filters commanded the second largest share of regional aftermarket filter demand in that year, accounting for 31 per cent of overall sales. This is down from a decade ago, reflecting product improvements that lengthen the useful lifespan of air intake filters.
Advances are also being made in the filter market. Continental, for example, has already unveiled an extensive selection of oil, fuel, air and interior air filters for dealers, service shops and car drivers in OEM quality. The filters provide protection for fuel injection systems, engines and interiors against dirt, wear, fine particulates and moisture – all from a single source.
The oil filter solutions, for example, are made of synthetic fibres or cellulose and resin and are suitable for all oil specifications, including the new long-life oils.