5 Things to Know About Oil Changes for Your Car

If you’re confused about motor oil—the right time to change it, how often to change it, what’s the best oil for your car—Consumer Reports’ chief mechanic, John Ibbotson, can set you straight.

1. When to Change the Oil

The answer to a lot of these questions is the same: Check your owner’s manual. It should be your car maintenance and operation bible. Don’t make assumptions on the interval based on past experiences or guidance from mechanics who profit from the work, because the timing has evolved over the years.

Many cars, pickups, and SUVs now have service reminder monitors that alert drivers when to change their oil. “These systems typically monitor the number of miles a vehicle has traveled, and they also sense how hard the car is being driven, and adjust accordingly,” Ibbotson says.

Make sure you get your oil change soon after you receive such an alert.

Oil level gauge.

2. How Often to Check the Oil Level

Checking car oil.

You should keep an eye on your car’s oil levels. Our reliability survey results have shown that even newer cars can need the oil to be topped off between changes.

CR recommends checking your oil level at least once a month. Be sure to get repairs done at the first sign of a leak.

Check the owner’s manual and follow the automaker’s recommendations. Some newer cars have electronic oil monitors and don’t have traditional dipsticks for manual inspection.

If you do have a dipstick, and you’re checking it yourself, make sure the car is parked on level ground. If the engine has been running, be aware of potential hot spots under the hood.

With the engine off, open the car’s hood and find the dipstick. Pull the dipstick out from the engine and wipe any oil off from its end. Then insert the dipstick back into its tube and push it all the way back in.

Pull it back out, and this time quickly look at both sides of the dipstick to see where the oil is on the end. Every dipstick has some way of indicating the proper oil level, whether it be two pinholes, the letters L and H (low and high), the words MIN and MAX, or simply an area of crosshatching. If the top of the oil “streak” is between the two marks or within the crosshatched area, the level is fine.

But if the oil is below the minimum mark, you need to add oil.

Pay close attention to the oil’s color. It should appear brown or black. But if it has a light, milky appearance, this could mean coolant is leaking into the engine. Look closely for any metal particles, too, because this could mean there is internal engine damage. If you see either of these conditions, get the car to a mechanic for further diagnosis.

If everything is okay, wipe off the dipstick again and insert it back into its tube, making sure it’s fully seated. Close the hood and you’re done.

3. How Often to Change the Oil

Changing car oil.

Some swear by the “every 3,000 miles or every 3 months” rule, but advances in engines and oil have made that guidance obsolete. Many automakers have oil-change intervals at 7,500 or even 10,000 miles and 6 or 12 months for time.

“Your owner’s manual has more detailed information about your car than any mechanic does,” Ibbotson says. “Don’t get talked into too-often oil changes. Follow the manual and your car’s engine should stay well-lubricated and perform well.”

Over the course of two years and 30,000 miles, assuming that your oil change costs $40 a pop, you could save $240 if you get it changed every 7,500 miles vs. every 3,000 miles.

It’s not just about miles: If you don’t drive your car a lot, your oil still needs to be kept fresh. Even if you drive fewer miles each year than your automaker suggests changing the oil (say, 6,000 miles, with suggested oil-change intervals at 7,500 miles), you should still be getting that oil changed twice a year.

Why? Oil becomes less effective as it ages, and by not getting the engine warm enough, excess moisture that forms in the engine will not be removed, which can lead to shorter engine life.

4. Choosing the Right Oil for Your Car

Again, take a look at your owner’s manual. “Don’t be upsold into synthetic oil if there is no need,” Ibbotson says.

In many newer models, the weight of your car’s motor oil is printed on the cap where you add oil. “Make sure you know what’s recommended or required by your automaker before you visit your mechanic so that you can control the cost of the oil they’re putting in,” he says.

If you have a much older car, do you need special motor oil?

“Not if it’s running well,” Ibbotson says. “If you’re not sure what oil you should be using because you don’t have an owner’s manual, check with your local dealer or an online enthusiast group for your particular model,” he says.

5. Do You Need Synthetic Oil?

Conventional engine oil vs. synthetic engine oil.

“Only if your manufacturer calls for it,” Ibbotson says, “because it can cost from two to four times as much as conventional oil.”

Synthetic oil is designed to be more effective at resisting breakdown (and because of that, it lasts longer) and withstanding high temperatures.

There are situations where that resistance to breakdown can help prolong the life of your engine.

“If you make lots of short trips, standard motor oil may never get warm enough to burn off moisture and impurities, which means it may not be doing enough to protect your engine,” Ibbotson says.

Another consideration is your lifestyle. “If you live in a region with very cold winters or very hot summers, or if you use your vehicle for towing or hauling heavy material, synthetic oil is your best bet,” he says. “While synthetic generally holds up better and can serve for more miles, it is equally important to not extend oil changes beyond the time interval recommended by the manufacturer—typically six months or a year if it is a motor that is not driven many miles or on many short trips.”

Synthetic oil can also help engines that are prone to building up sludge; some Volkswagen and Toyota models have had sludge issues in the past. This residue, formed when oil breaks down, can block the flow of oil, leading to the quick death of an engine. Synthetic oil would be beneficial in these engines because it helps to reduce sludge buildup, helping to extend the engine’s lifespan.

How the Saudi Oil Attack Can Affect You and Your Business

What You Need to Know to Stay Prepared in the Face of Unpredictibility

While questions surrounding weekend drone attacks on a Saudi Arabian oil facility and a nearby oil field continue to arise, there’s one fact that remains relatively unquestioned: the destruction of one of the world’s largest processors of oil has and will continue to affect crude oil prices globally.

Following drone strikes, Saudi Aramco’s Abqaiq plant, responsible for nearly 5 million barrels of crude-oil production a day, halted production of half of the facility’s output.

That means Saudi Arabia’s oil capacity – which accounts for about 5% of the world’s oil production – was cut in half overnight.

S&P Global Platt reported that Brent oil, the international benchmark, could see anywhere from a $5 to $10 price surge per barrel in the days following the attack. Other experts added that regardless of how prices fluctuate, the events “raise the risk of further disruptions to Middle East output,” likely elevating the risk of oil prices vaulting even higher, according to MarketWatch.com.

Two days following the attack, oil in the United States soared to its highest price in a decade, leading some industry experts to surmise predictions based on past historical events. Those events, beginning with the 1973 oil crisis, led to widespread panic and long lines at the pump throughout the United States.

Uncertainty and Historical Patterns

In 1973, when the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) issued an embargo against the United States, it led to what is now referred to as the “first oil shock.”

During that time, oil prices soared from $3 a barrel to about $12 a barrel globally, with the United States absorbing the highest increases in prices. The effects of that spike, as well as the embargo itself, on global politics and the global economy, were severe and longstanding. The hike not only directly affected Americans when it came to accessibility of gasoline; it led to higher prices for leaders in manufacturing, aviation, agricultural and a wide range of other industries.

In 1979, a “second oil shock” resulted from decreased supply following the Iranian Revolution. While only 4% of the global supply was affected, a collective anticipation of shortages fueled another widespread panic that, subsequently, drove barrel prices to extreme heights. That year, prices rose to $39 per barrel, according to Federal Reserve History.

Immediately following the 2019 attack in Saudi Arabia, prices hovered around $60 per barrel for crude oil. According to CNN, while initial surges led to premiums as high as 18%, authorization by U.S. President Donald Trump to use oil from the country’s emergency oil supply three days after the attack quickly stabilized prices.

The U.S. reserve, which the country began stockpiling following the 1973 embargo, is currently the world’s largest backup pool of oil. The last time it was utilized was in the fallout after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which devastated the nation’s oil infrastructure in the Gulf of Mexico.

Near Unpredictable Fallout

While there are certain deliberate moves or events that dictate the rise and fall of prices, such as new guidelines released by OPEC or natural disasters like hurricanes, there are other times where simple comments can lead to unpredictable price stabilizations or disruptions.

In this particular instance, there are varying opinions regarding how long it will take Saudia Arabia to get back on track, and uncertainty is volatile.

An announcement by Saudi officials four days after the attack, for example, stating that the country’s production will return to normal within two to three weeks, caused dramatic spikes in pricing to quickly stabilize.

While experts have differing opinions regarding how long or if that stabilization will last, in either case, there truly is no way to know for certain.

The only certainty, at this point, is to expect volatility. Whether you are a leader in manufacturing, automotive, aviation, agricultural or another industry that relies on oil for operations, it’s best to monitor fluctuations as they come and institute a plan to change directions in the event of price surges.

It’s also wise to have a concrete idea of how fluctuations affect your portfolio and reconsider risks when it comes to investments, expenses or even internal operations, at least for now.

Contact an SCL Consultant today

In a wide range of industrial sectors, SCL is committed to being the number one logistics and solutions provider for the products that protect and optimize the machines that keep our country moving. We pride ourselves on remaining at the forefront of industry trends and technological innovations, and as the market continues to evolve, we are committed to providing extensive product and industry knowledge and total performance satisfaction for our customers. For more information on how we can assist you in choosing optimal products at a competitive price, contact an SCL expert today.

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Attentive, Honest Service Providers Can Mean a Tangible Difference in Your Bottom Line

For automotive dealerships and service facilities, the service advisor is truly the face of the company for most customers. They are waiting when cars pull up in the service lane, and, oftentimes, they are the only person customers speak to before the bill is paid.

According to Forbes, about 40% of a dealership’s overall income can originate from the service department, and vehicle servicing accounts for more than $200 billion in revenue annually in the United States.

With that kind of potential impact, it’s essential that service advisors leave a positive impact on customers. Here are five ways the service advisors on your team can continue to help you build the type of customer loyalty you need for sustainable growth:

  1. Be Knowledgeable About the Products

    A trusted, well informed service advisor will know how to provide customers with options best suited to their vehicle. That means if an SUV pulls up, he or she should know, for example, at least the basics on which type of oil type is best for that SUV and at least one brand recommendation. For example, if your facility keeps Petra in stock, your service advisor should know. Any information they can give to customers to help them make the best decisions will go a long way.

  2. Fully Understand the Failure First

    Customers who bring their cars in for service are usually already operating at a higher level of stress than normal. Instead of simply relaying information from the service department to the customer, take the time to understand why a repair needs to take place. An explanation will go much further than an invoice when it comes to creating the trust a customer needs to do business.

  3. Be Willing to Take Extra Steps

    A customer may not know what’s wrong with their vehicle or the best option when it comes to choosing a product, but they will know when their service advisor is faking it. Service advisors must be willing to search a vehicle’s service history, ask other advisors, speak with technicians, even search owner’s manuals to find answers for customers. If they don’t, those same customers will search for answers somewhere else.

  4. Make an Effort in Conversation

    The best service advisors are not necessarily the men or women who know the most about the products; they’re the ones customers like. And in almost any industry, customers like people they can talk to and trust. It’s essential that service advisors deliver information confidently, kindly and in a language customers can understand. That could mean a few extra minutes to explain the benefits of performing a service, but it could also mean a returning customer.

  5. Meet the Customer Where They Are

    Sometimes customers simply object off the bat to what service advisors tell them needs to be done with their vehicle. That may have to do with cost or it just may have to do with the day of the week. Either way, it’s important that service advisors put themselves in the customer’s shoes before they give up. What would he or she want to know if it was their vehicle? That same principle should be applied when schedules are pushed. If repairs are taking longer than expected, communicate the delay to the customer. Check on them, get them fresh coffee, keep them happy while they’re waiting.

Service advisors have the delicate job of not only having to know the ins and outs of vehicle maintenance but also having to explain those ins and outs to customers. When they can achieve that balance in a respectful manner, they will motivate customers to not only return when their vehicle needs service – they’ll keep them coming back when their next one needs service too.

Contact an SCL Consultant today

In a wide range of industrial sectors, SCL is committed to being the number one logistics and solutions provider for the products that protect and optimize the machines that keep our country moving. For more information on how we help automotive partners with services including monitoring delivery or managing inventory, contact an SCL expert today.

 

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Common Objections to Service Recommendations and How to Overcome Them

Why Simply Relaying Information Should No Longer be Status Quo

When it comes to dealer or factory recommended maintenance or even necessary repairs, many customers are often resistant to accept advice from automotive service providers. They either don’t have the time to wait, they didn’t budget for the expense, they believe they can get it done elsewhere cheaper, and the list goes on.

Even the best service advisors can’t be expected to convince everyone of the value of doing business at your dealership or facility, but there are definitely tools they can utilize to up their success rate.

Here are a few common objections customers offer and how they can be overcome:

Trust

Even if customers don’t know anything about vehicles or vehicle maintenance, they’ll most likely be able to tell if you’re selling them a service they don’t need. Be honest and transparent, use terms that your customer can understand – not acronyms or car jargon. If there are some items that can be done at a later date, let your customer know and explain why. When they feel you’re meeting them on their level and sincerely trying to help, they are more likely to buy in on what you’re telling them needs to be done.

Time

If a customer comes in for routine maintenance and technicians find additional issues, many times that customer will use their schedule as an excuse to take care of those items later. Good service advisors try to understand the limitations that customer is working with – are they worried about a ride to work? If he or she has children, could you arrange a loaner car so they don’t have to go without car seats? Understandingwhytime is an objection and finding a way to address it can take uncertainty away for the customer so he or she can make a better-informed decision.

Money

For many, getting unscheduled maintenance done on their vehicle is simply not possible without advanced notice or budgeting. If service advisors find themselves faced with the budget objection, first explain the necessity of the repair — many times that’s enough to get the customer’s attention. If the work isn’t urgent but needs to be done, talk to a general manager about a payment plan or credit option. If resources are still an issue, schedule a time in the future for the customer to come in and follow up with them to ensure the expense is in their budget later on.

Considering a New Vehicle

When repairs reach a certain amount some customers believe they’d be better off with a new car versus a hefty repair cost. In those cases, take the time to walk that customer next door to a car dealership or refer them to a salesperson you know. That expert can then walk the customer through a price comparison to help them decide if trading in their vehicle for a newer model truly is the best choice. If it’s not, then the salesperson can circle back to you. In this case, it’s especially important to follow through and find a solution either way.

Mechanic Friend

Customers who have friends or family who are mechanics, or those who are mechanics themselves, are often the most challenging. In these cases, first try explaining that having a licensed and bonded technician work on your vehicle is often required to maintain warranties. Do your best to also point out technicians at your facility are factory trained to perform maintenance and order genuine parts. Friends who are mechanics cannot have their work guaranteed in the event the repair fails or if issues covered by the warranty arise. Regardless, take great care that you don’t insult the mechanic in their circle.

Taking the time to face any objection by a customer can certainly mean more work on the front end, but it could also mean the difference between spending an hour with a customer who later walks out versus spending an hour with a customer who accepts your recommendations.

Contact an SCL Consultant today

In a wide range of industrial sectors, SCL is committed to being the number one logistics and solutions provider for the products that protect and optimize the machines that keep our country moving. For more information on how we help automotive partners with services including monitoring delivery or managing inventory, contact an SCL expert today.

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Educating Customers About Oil Choices Can Build Trust and Loyalty

According to a 2018 survey by a leading tire manufacturer, about 1 in 3 customers is not confident enough to select the right oil for their vehicle. A significantly lower percentage than that feel equipped to perform basic car maintenance, but that’s a different subject.

In either case, it’s essential that automotive service providers be able to fill the gap when it comes to equipping customers with enough information to choose what’s best for their vehicle. While, more often than not, owner’s manuals state manufacturer recommendations for oil, those recommendations are often minimum standards.

“That’s an opportunity for your service advisors to connect with customers, build trust, and provide them with useful information with regard to maximizing the performance and longevity of their vehicle,” said SCL Solutions Specialist Don Parker.

Weight aside, as all cars come with manufacturer recommendations for that, customers may choose between conventional oil, a synthetic blend, and fully synthetic oil.

Here are a few key points your advisors can share:

  1. The Difference is in the Building Blocks

    The most significant difference between conventional oil and synthetic oil lies in the foundation. The base stock of conventional oil is refined crude, the molecules of which are not uniform; the base stock of synthetic oil is manufactured, comprised of molecules consistent in size and shape. That uniformity means the difference between an even and uneven flow throughout the car’s engine – which in turn affects wear and deposit build-up. Synthetic oil is also more durable and less likely to break down in extreme conditions, Parker said. But while it’s the best in terms of performance and engine longevity, it comes at a price.

  2. Check the Owner’s Manual First

    Every manufacturer puts standards in place to best suit the needs of its models. That being said, according to Consumer Reports, about 70 percent of 2019 models across all brands were manufactured to take either fully synthetic or a synthetic blend. Some brands, like Honda, “don’t specifically require synthetics for their engines, but the low-viscosity oils that those engines need are only offered in a synthetic format,” according to Consumer Reports.

  3. High Performance Cars or Turbos Usually Need Fully Synthetic

    Fully synthetic oil is typically made for engines found in high performance cars that need to maintain their lubricity and low temperature when the engine is working hard. Think turbos, supercharged engines and, of course, super cars. In recent years, turbos have become increasingly popular, making the demand for synthetic even higher. For customers who want or need the benefit of fully synthetic without the high price tag, a synthetic blend is usually an option.

  4. Some Cars Don’t Need Premium Performance

    Unless the owner’s manual specifies that a vehicle needs synthetic oil, cars don’t need it. Most cars older than 2009 or those with higher mileage can perform fine with a conventional oil, although there are a few exceptions. If customers live in a region with extremely cold winters or hot summers or if they tow or haul with their vehicle, a synthetic blend can protect their engine from strain better than conventional oil.

  5. More People Are Choosing Blends

    For customers who may want the benefits of a synthetic oil without paying two to four times more than conventional oil, they can opt for a blend. Simply a mix of synthetic and conventional oils, blends offer some protection but obviously not at the level of fully synthetic. According to a 2018 survey by the National Oil & Lube News, about 35 percent of drivers now choose synthetic blends while another 22 percent opt for fully synthetic. Most cars manufactured within the past 10 years recommend at least a blend, Parker added.

While there are other options including high-mileage oil and diesel, they only account for about 11 percent of oil changes conducted annually. Most customers – over 57 percent – choose either a blend or a fully synthetic oil. On top of its generally accepted superiority, synthetic oil also offers unseen benefits like longer oil life and longer time that can be allotted between oil changes.

Regardless of where your customers land in their decision-making process, it’s essential that your service advisors have the tools they need to help and, if at all possible, offer customers choices at each tier.

Contact an SCL Consultant today

In a wide range of industrial sectors, SCL is committed to being the number one logistics and solutions provider for the products that protect and optimize the machines that keep our country moving. For more information on how we help automotive partners with services including monitoring delivery or managing inventory, contact an SCL expert today.

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CLICK HERE – National Cheeseburger Day – Take $9 Off!

Have faith America. National Cheeseburger Day falls on September 18. That means there’s a free (or at least discounted) cheeseburger waiting for you somewhere in this great nation. (See below.) Prepare to enjoy an American food icon — a cheeseburger oozing warm cheesy deliciousness on top of a moist, juicy patty (or two.) No matter how refined your palate might be, a good, old-fashioned cheeseburger seems to satisfy! Especially on September 18.

Here you’ll find money-saving deals, plus a hand-curated list of chefs, food writers and bloggers contributing their most creative National Cheeseburger Day recipe ideas. Hint: Think donuts!

But first let’s pause to thank Lionel Sternberger for his invention of gastronomic genius.

Sternberger? Well, he certainly had the perfect name for the job.

Anyway, Lionel was 16 years old in 1926, flipping burgers inside his dad’s sandwich shop, the “Rite Spot,” in Pasadena, California.  But, here’s where things get interesting. Consistent with most how-it-got-started stories, there are two versions. In one, Lionel, out of curiosity, added a piece of American cheese onto a hamburger frying on the griddle.  In version two, a homeless passerby saw Lionel working those burgers and suggested adding cheese. Either way, the rest is mouth-watering, delicious history.

Whether you grill your own burgers today or caravan with your crew to everybody’s favorite burger joint,  go hog-wild crazy eating as many toasted, drippingly-good cheeseburgers as your tummy can hold.  So, thanks, Lionel — we wouldn’t be eating cheeseburgers without you!

Cheeseburger Day FAQ’s

What Day Was The Cheeseburger Invented?

While the exact date is unknown, the cheeseburger was invented in 1926 by Lionel Sternberger in Pasadena, CA at his father’s sandwich shop called the “Rite Spot.”

What is the Birthplace of the Cheeseburger?

Despite what you might hear from people from Kentucky, the cheeseburger was born in California at the aforementioned “Rite Spot” in Pasadena, CA. This comes as no surprise with the Golden State’s heritage of Americana and car dominated drive-in culture.

Is McDonald’s Celebrating National Cheeseburger Day

Stop me if you’ve heard this: Pricing and participation may vary. Some McDonald’s are indeed participating but you’ll have to check the McDonald’s app to check if your local one is.

Why is it National Cheeseburger Day?

Certain days exist out of pure love (and hunger). But we celebrate them just the same. Cheeseburger Day falls in that hazy post-summer space between Labor Day and the fall equinox. Think of it as your final summer dining fling.

When is National Hamburger Day?

Dairy not your speed? You’re in luck! The next  National Hamburger Day falls on May 28, 2020. Celebrate with National Today.

Mac & Cheese Burger

Quaker Steak & Lube (Various locations)

Quaker Steak & Lube? Why, yes! (A play on Quaker State motor oil, we’re guessing.) This burger’s topped with smoky bacon, American and cheddar-Jack cheeses and Quaker Steak’s gooey, savory mac & cheese. Served atop shredded lettuce, tomato, red onion and dill pickle chips.