The Rise of Preventative Maintenance Additives

Jan. 1, 2021

How preventative maintenance additives provide better maintenance to customers, and boost tickets all in one.

Right now, preventative maintenance is more important than ever as consumers are keeping their vehicles much longer than ever before. According to a 2020 IHS Markit report, the average vehicle age has increased by 24 percent since 2002. In fact, vehicles 16 years and older account for a quarter of vehicles on the road.

With the help of preventative maintenance, vehicles are lasting longer than ever. Before, vehicles would collect build-up in their engines and there were only a few easy ways to mitigate the issue. But in the 1990s, the industry was able to fill the void with preventative maintenance products, from fuel system cleaner to engine treatments and headlight restoration services, protecting the engines from oxidation, corrosion, and other deposits that could damage vehicle engines. 

Rich Moore has watched preventative maintenance additives evolve since the inception of the very first product, what the industry calls an oil system cleaner.

“It was the pioneer product that got everyone thinking about performance maintenance additives,” says Moore, the senior vice president of sales with Service Champ.

Now, the industry has evolved this one product into hundreds of thousands of preventative maintenance additives to keep cars running longer. In the search for better service products for customers, manufacturers found a solution. In turn, quick lube tickets benefitted, as this industry case study shows.

The Challenge

According to Moore, the industry can no longer survive on just oil changes.

“If you are just changing oil, you aren’t making money,” he says.

He says the real ticket-boosters come from all of the extras—cabin filters, windshield wipers, etc.—and the industry wanted to find more to add to this list. 

Products also needed to help vehicles maintain greater fuel efficiency. CAFE standards set off a fuel efficiency rush that included technologies like gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines. Developments like GDI presented their own preventative maintenance needs.

The Solution

Consistently, new technology is making these products more of a necessity. 

When this oil system cleaner additive took off, the industry started to look to other parts of the vehicle for extra ways to provide more fuel efficiency and a way to boost tickets. The industry has now produced products like engine flushes, fuel system cleaners, power steering fluid, and transmission treatments, among others.

“If you sell this service to five percent of your customers, you can imagine how much their ticket average would go up,” Moore says.

While the industry is looking to add more and more products, they are also looking to make these products more effective. Companies like Solid Start have added and adjusted their formulations since its inception to keep up with new technology, from thinner oils to CAFE Standards. 

Solid Start CEO Amber Kossak says that their True Brand products like the fuel system cleanings, headlight restoration services, and an A/C booster have been adjusted to make a better product. 

“We have a lot of room to grow and appreciate every minute,” Kossak says.

The Aftermath

Since the 1990s, Moore estimates that the revenues in this industry sector have seen explosive growth, and it’s still evolving. The element behind the growth is the increased demand for fuel efficiency. He says new GDI engines now require some sort of cleaning, at around 15,000 to 20,000 miles driven, which makes GDI fuel system cleaner additives the hottest preventative maintenance additive on the market. He says it will continue to be that way. And because of this newly needed maintenance, it has given the quick lube industry another avenue for upping their ticket averages.

The Takeaway

Over the years, preventative maintenance additives have not only provided operators with an avenue to increase their ticket averages, but it’s helped provide better maintenance and help customer’s vehicles to last longer. For service providers, Kossak says repair costs of GDI engines proves preventive maintenance additives to be an excellent return on investment for vehicle owners.

Moore says no customer is coming in asking for these preventative maintenance additives, it’s all up to the quick lube operators to inform their customers when this preventative maintenance is needed and make it happen.