Quick Lube Q&A: Sean Nguyen of Shell Lubricants

July 1, 2024
Sean Nguyen, Pennzoil technical specialist at Shell Lubricants, highlights an informed approach to vehicle lubrication.

Vehicle lubricants are top-of-mind for any quick lube shop owner, as well as the rest of the automotive aftermarket. Certainly, shop owners are well-versed in this topic, but there are many details to consider when it comes to using these lubricants and educating the customer about them.  

For this Quick Lube Q&A, NOLN spoke with Sean Nguyen, who is a Pennzoil technical specialist at Shell Lubricants. Nguyen explained the importance of lubricants from his Pennzoil perspective—from storage to customer knowledge, trends, and routine and seasonal maintenance. 

NOLN: Sean, can you explain your job at Shell? What does your work entail? 

Sean Nguyen: I wear quite a few hats in my role as a Pennzoil technical specialist at Shell, but specifically, I am a lubricant chemist by trade. With more than 24 years dedicated to studying lubricants including greases, asphalt, and engine oils, my experiences have been fun. 

NOLN: In general, what kind of information is important for shop owners to relay to customers concerning vehicle lubricants? 

Sean Nguyen: It's crucial to emphasize the importance of routine maintenance and the utilization of the appropriate lubricants, such as Pennzoil products, for customers aiming to extend the lifespan of their vehicles.  

This involves conducting regular service checks during both the winter and summer, ensuring the right fluids are topped off, and using the specific fluids/lubricants designed for their particular vehicle model. 

NOLN: What is helpful for shop teams to understand about the consumer perspective of vehicle lubrication? 

Sean Nguyen: In many cases, consumers are not aware of the correct lubricants to use for their vehiclesthey may think “oil is oil” and all products should perform the same.  

When advising customers on the importance of regular oil changes, it is critical to emphasize utilizing the correct type of motor oil.  

It's important for customers to be aware that the type of motor oil their vehicle needs is usually determined by the vehicle's manufacturer. This information can often be found directly in the owner’s manual for the vehicle or Pennzoil’s Technical Information Center (TIC) at 1-800-BEST-OIL (237-8645).  

Store owners can highlight the benefits of selecting the appropriate motor oil, which not only extends the engine's life but also offers enhanced protection.  

This is particularly true when customers choose a Pennzoil Platinum Full Synthetic Motor Oil, known for maximizing engine protection. 

NOLN: Quick maintenance shops see cars come through their bays all year long. As the seasons change, so do some service opportunities. What can shop teams do to help their customers understand seasonal maintenance? 

Sean Nguyen: Many shops only see their customers for a quick oil change, but this is an ideal time to conduct swift 10-point service inspections.  

This time should be used to inform customers about the necessity of seasonal maintenance, including the replacement of wiper blades, the replenishment of coolants, the changing washer fluids suitable for extreme temperatures and the adjustment of tire air pressure to enhance fuel efficiency. 

These types of service inspections can significantly contribute to establishing trust with the customer. 

NOLN: In the summer, hot temperatures can take a toll on people and vehicles alike. What are some things to note about using and storing vehicle lubricants during the summer season? 

Sean Nguyen: To ensure lubricants are stored correctly, it is recommended to keep them in their original packaging to prevent any misidentification. Additionally, store these products in a location protected from environmental exposure to prevent contamination by dust and water.  

It’s also important to regularly rotate your stock, ensuring that all lubricants are used within 48 months of their manufacturing date to maintain their effectiveness and quality. 

NOLN: How can shop owners set themselves up for success when prepping for the preventative maintenance needs of the next season—in this case, the fall? 

Sean Nguyen: Begin the process early by informing your customers through those 10-point inspections. For example, provide them with a clear, color-coded indicator—green, yellow, or red—to help them understand when items require replacement or servicing.  

Position yourself as a trusted advisor rather than just a salesperson. This approach, I believe, will encourage customers to come back for more visits. 

NOLN: What are some strategies shop owners can take to stay informed on vehicle lubrication news and updates? 

Sean Nguyen: Maintain a strong relationship with your brand and lubricant sales representatives. At Pennzoil, our sales representatives place a significant focus on providing industry trends and market insights, aiming to support the development and profitability of our partners. Communicate your requirements to your sales representative to find out how they can assist you. 

NOLN: Are there any trends that you are following in terms of vehicle lubrication? 

Sean Nguyen: We see that consumers are keeping their vehicles longer. This means they need products that will aid in extending the life of their vehicles. So, high mileage engine oils will be important. For vehicles that are relatively new but have already covered a significant distance, we suggest using Pennzoil Platinum High Mileage Full Synthetic Motor Oil.  

As the intervals between oil changes continue to extend, it's worth noting that many consumers often neglect to check their vehicle's fluid levels. So, it's beneficial to advise them to bring their vehicles in for a fluid level inspection and top-off every 2,000-3,000 miles.  

This not only enables the shop to identify any necessary additional services but also assists in maintaining the customer's vehicle, fostering brand loyalty, and ensuring they come back for future services or repairs. 

About the Author

NOLN Staff Reporters

The NOLN staff reporters cover the quick maintenance industry every day, from top to bottom. For news inquiries, please contact [email protected].