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Workshops 'abandon' mineral engine oils

The use of synthetic oils is growing, according to a survey by AM-online sister organisation Sewells.

The 'Engine Oil and Supplier Survey 2006', published by Sewells Information & Research, reveals big changes in the UK market for engine oil. Following up on similar Sewells research in 2001, this latest survey shows there has been a marked swing to the use of synthetic oils and a considerable increase in usage of 0W/30 and 5W/30 oils.

As to the main focus of this project – workshops’ and accessory shops’ satisfaction with oils and their suppliers – the research confirmed extremely high satisfaction rates. However, the report warns that price could become the differentiator for suppliers when satisfaction runs at such a high level.

In 2001 over 80% of the engine oils stocked by accessory shops responding to the survey were mineral oils, and 35% of the engine oils offered by workshop respondents were also mineral.

In the latest survey, workshops have all but abandoned mineral oils, which now account for just over 10% of the engine oils offered. However, mineral engine oils still linger on in motorists’ shops, representing 29% of oils stocked. In market volume terms, mineral engine oils probably now account for less than 10% of the market compared to around 25% five years ago.

In workshops this year, 72% of the engine oils stocked were either 0W/30, 5W/30 or 10W40 – the latter being the most popular.

This finding contrasts starkly with the 2001 survey, when only 42% of workshop respondents listed these three viscosities, and 15W/40 was the most popular grade. Accessory shops have displayed a similar turnaround in their engine lubricant stock profiles. It is therefore very likely that 10W/40 grade engine oils now account for just over 50% of engine oil market volume, and 0W/30 and 5W/30 together for 20%.

Respondents to the Engine Oil and Supplier Survey 2006 were extremely satisfied with their principal brand of engine oil, although satisfaction was down on 2001.

Franchised dealer workshops, for example, awarded an average rating of 85.0 out of 100. However, the report notes that satisfaction with brands of engine oils is highly influenced by satisfaction with the supplier. Fortunately, it seems that both workshops and accessory shops are generally very happy with their suppliers.

Because of these high levels of satisfaction, product and supplier differentiation becomes more difficult. So when respondents were asked what would persuade them to change their engine oil supplier – and thus potentially their main brand of oil too – an extremely high number referred to price or financial terms or a similar change motivator.

The Engine Oil and Supplier Survey 2006 involved interviews with 240 franchised workshops, 265 independent workshops/fast-fits and 75 motorists’ accessory shops. The results include 22 brands of oil by name – 21 for workshops and 18 for accessory shops.

  • For more information on the Sewells' report call Berta Collins on 01733 468270 or email
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