iFLEX 2024: PAMA Education Sessions Part 2

May 15, 2024
The second round of PAMA sessions at iFLEX 2024 included a panel discussion, hybrid and electric vehicle maintenance, and oil characteristics.

Tuesday, May 14, included the second set of sessions from the Preventative Automotive Maintenance Association at iFLEX 2024. 

NOLN was there, and here is a condensed version of some session takeaways. 

The first PAMA sessions were conducted on Monday, May 13. 

PAMA Talk Live: Hot Topics that Impact Your Business  

The morning began with "PAMA Talk Live: Hot Topics that Impact Your Business" panel that was moderated by Mark Bochnowski of Oil Changers. The panelists included:  

  • Justin Cialella of Victory Lane Quick Oil Change 
  • Tom Staker of FullSpeed Automotive  
  • Jacobe Krizman of Premier Oil Change 
  • Kevin Treder of Oil Changers 

Given the nature of the panel’s purpose to explore “hot topics,” there were many areas up for discussion from training to technical aspects, service offerings, and beyond. But there were also some common themes throughout, with one being the idea of growth within a shop setting—how talent is found, retained, and nurtured.  

Treder drove home the concept of pit tech to president (which is fittingly exemplified by Breeze Autocare President and CEO Eric Frankenberger’s own career journey). Treder talked about how people do actually want to work these days, but they want to have a path they can take. It’s important to engage them from day one and give them a purpose—and opportunity for growth helps maintain that momentum as well. 

Cialella shared a company-wide phrase that, “Only winners end up in Victory Lane.” He said there is an emphasis at Victory Lane of treating everyone like family, giving them a fair wage, training, and “unlocking potential.” He said when the people who work at Victory Lane speak with others about how much they like the workplace, there is potential for recruiting to happen organically.  

In a similar vein, Krizman spoke to this concept as well. He said Premier Oil Change sees success when current employees have friends looking for work—bringing in other motivated individuals to the shop. Premier also does leadership training with managers.  

Staker also spoke to the importance of investing time in managers, saying that is an area FullSpeed is concentrating on—and that the relationship between the managers and others can play into turnover.  

Maximizing Revenue by Focusing on Hybrid Vehicle Maintenance Needs   

Michael Warholic of Valvoline Global and Jason Lyon of AutoLube Express teamed up for this session.  

Warholic began by explaining differences between hybrids by laying out a categorization of vehicles: internal combustion engines, mild hybrid electric vehicles, full hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and battery electric vehicles/electric vehicles.  

The presentation slideshow featured some vehicle sales numbers for 2023, which put total U.S. vehicle sales at 15.5 million, EVs at 1.4 million, full hybrids at 1.2 million, and plug-in hybrids at 0.25 million.

Additionally, the slideshow showcased global powertrain installations that included projected increases (in millions of vehicles) for electric, full hybrid, and mild hybrid by 2027. Lyon noted this as an opportunity. 

Lyon also spoke during the presentation about the opportunities to educate guests and staff as well as add to your service menu—such as how you could include a hybrid oil change package, for example, and position your shop as an expert. And how offering this could also increase your SEO when people search for these services in the area, which in turn helps with marketing. 

There are some challenges with hybrids though, as Warholic pointed out—including corrosion and white sludge potential. Hybrid vehicles also have different needs, such as lower operating temperatures, engine oil that can be subject to fuel dilution and water condensation, low engine speeds, and high load conditions—as listed during the presentation.  

Hybrid transmissions are a consideration as well, and in line with that, Warholic mentioned how the viscosity of transmission fluids is getting lower and there is a push to get more out of the transmission, in regards to efficiency.  

EV Maintenance Scheduling   

PAMA President Matt Webb of Premier Oil Change led this electric vehicle-centric presentation. He started by acknowledging the presence of EVs on the road these days—with the state of California having the highest amount.  

He encouraged shop owners to research EV penetration in their state, sharing that every state keeps vehicle registration data by county, so there is an ability to see how many vehicles are registered and how many are electric.  

He said it can be a tough question to answer as to whether EV services should be offered at a shop—there is an investment involved, and it ties back to that research component as well to see if there is a demand in the area. For example, he said if a shop owner is interested in EV services, windshield wipers may be a good way to get their foot in the door.  

Webb listed some other avenues for EV service potential in his slideshow, including fluid level inspections, fluid exchanges, cabin filters, tire rotations, and 12V (low voltage) battery service. 

But there are some consumer misconceptions about EVs—with Webb sharing how these vehicles are subject to being marketed as “maintenance-free” when that isn’t the case. This is why customer education is important, so they know the services that need to be performed.  

Webb has a Ford Mustang Mach-E that he has used to practice on and learn from. To give an idea of what maintaining some electric vehicles looks like in practice, he brought up several EV maintenance schedules (Kia Niro EV, Ford F-150 Lightning, and Tesla) to showcase what the OEM is recommending. Some of the items Tesla recommends, for example, include brake fluid health check every four years, A/C desiccant bag replacement every 4 years, and cabin air filter replacement every two years, just to name a few.  

Overall, Webb urged attendees to stay open-minded about EVs and their service potential—and that they won’t be putting the oil change industry out of business.  

Under the Hood: Navigating Auto Oil Characteristics for Peak Performance   

Michael Warholic of Valvoline Global returned to the presentation stage for the final PAMA iFLEX education session.  

Warholic’s presentation was informative, including an overview of why we need engine oil, what’s in it, and what is in additives. While these are things that shop owners may already be aware of, the oil trends discussed during this presentation are an important part of the conversation as well.  

Warholic mentioned, for instance, the upcoming ILSAC GF-7 classification, which will replace GF-6 as it starts its roll out in 2025.  

He also noted the strong continued prevalence of full synthetic oils, listing some of their advantages as having less impurities and performing well at low and high temperatures.  

Warholic said the biggest threats to oil are time and temperature. He said most OEMs will recommend the same oil for a hybrid as they would for a typical ICE.  

Warholic brought up severe driving, and how that can be a factor in engine oil life. A lot of common driving can be classified as severe, and according to Warholic this can include things like short trips, idling in traffic, prolonged driving at hot temperatures or sub-zero temperatures, and dusty conditions, amongst other things. Warholic explained that these are conditions engines don’t like being in.  

"One thing that drives the life of an engine oil is really how you drive,” Warholic said.  

Warholic listed multiple trend takeaways for attendee consideration at the end of his presentation, including increased engine severity, the concept of engine oils being asked to do more these days, decreasing viscosities, how severe driving is often underestimated, and the rise of full synthetic oils.  

iFLEX runs May 13 – May 15 in Nashville, Tennessee.