By Matt Timmons
Vice President, OEM Engagement
In recent years, the passenger car automotive industry has witnessed a decline in the concept of “do it yourself” car care. Increasingly, everyday drivers rely on professionals to perform routine maintenance, whether it’s at the dealership, a trusted mechanic, or quick lube chains.
And while our instinct might be to lament the old tradition of changing your own oil in your driveway, there are a few benefits to this shift in behavior for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and their hardware in the field.
Why? First, today’s engines are more complex than they’ve ever been, and high-performance lubes and fluids are generally required for optimized operation. And at the same time, drivers are less tuned in to the details of these vehicles’ maintenance needs than they have traditionally been in the past. As the “do it yourself” attitude has largely been replaced by “do it for me,” it means that many drivers aren’t equipped with the knowledge or skills to meet the needs of today’s advanced hardware.
This creates both a challenge and an opportunity for the automotive industry—for OEMs desiring long-term durability of their vehicles; for oil and fuel marketers to develop and sell high-performance solutions; for service shops to provide better service to end users; and for end users to enjoy reliability from their vehicles.
The challenge arises when vehicle owners are unaware of how or why their new vehicles require service and maintenance. The opportunity, then, exists when owners entrust their vehicles to professionals for regular service and maintenance, where the more likely it is that the vehicle will be serviced in the way it is intended for long-term durability and reliability.
That’s good news for the entire value chain, and we’ve seen some evidence of this already born out for TGDI engines and professionals recommending high-performance lubricants that combat LSPI. But there’s more opportunity here, too, because all fluids are important for as-designed engine performance. For instance, at Lubrizol, we advocate for fuel additive services that help keep a TGDI engine’s valves, injector and combustion chamber clean. Because TGDI engines relocate the fuel injector inside the combustion chamber, significant deposits and buildup can result from this new high heat and pressure. Together with a high-performance lubricant, new fuel additive technology can help prevent or eliminate deposits, keeping important engine components clean and maximizing your fuel economy and vehicle reliability.
So, how to get higher-performance fuel into the vehicles of everyday drivers? First, there is opportunity to upgrade the gasoline additives used at the pump to protect all engines—not just TGDI engines, but traditional Port Fuel Injected (PFI) engines too. Another way is a via fuel system services available at professional service shops, a ripe opportunity among the “do it for me” consumer base.
This isn’t just about today’s engines, either. Global OEMs are pursuing numerous strategies to deliver increasingly efficient vehicles for drivers everywhere, and hardware will only continue to advance. Additive-based solutions in our fuels and fluids will be a critical part of on-road durability for all types of new vehicles well into the future. And for that reason, an increased shift toward professional service is something our industry should support to ensure high-performance vehicles receive high-performance fluids.
On-road durability is critically important to OEMs for more than one reason. It’s important to maintain warranties, of course, but more broadly, greater durability leads to greater sustainability—and that’s been a driving motivator for the entire industry for years and will only continue to become more important.
Lubrizol is continuously working to develop new additive solutions to fluid-related challenges in all parts of the transportation industry. We’re firm believers that chemistry can help solve some of society’s toughest challenges, including those related to OEM hardware reliability. And while lubricants may get most of the industry attention, we believe that fuel additives play an increasingly important role moving forward.
For more information on fuel additives, contact your Lubrizol representative.