Gareth Brachhi, Engineer at Castrol UK, evaluates how the company helped independent workshops during the first nationwide COVID-19 lockdown, and looks to the future to see what role the company has to play.
Recent research conducted by GiPA on the effect of COVID-19 on the aftermarket industry found that at the end of March, just 47% of UK workshops were open and, on average, those open were operating at 68% capacity. Six weeks later, just 54% were open. After that, workshops across the country faced the unusual task of restarting their operations as lockdown restrictions were eased.
To support independent workshops through this difficult time, Castrol worked to develop a range of new products and programmes to help technicians keep their customers on the road. Central to this effort was Castrol’s Branded Workshop programme, a franchise model that goes far beyond branding, encompassing a series of offers that help independent workshops increase bill value and improve operational efficiency.
Castrol has recently launched a comprehensive engine warranty scheme that aims to help independent workshops across the UK maximise customer satisfaction and retention. Castrol ‘service’ workshops can now offer the 12-month or 18,000 miles Castrol Engine Warranty to customers when they have an oil change using Castrol lubricants. All costs for the new warranty are covered by Castrol – there is no charge to the customer or to the participating workshop.
The warranty improves the appeal of independent workshops as it builds loyalty and trust, and adds value. The reassurance of warranty cover is one of the main reasons that customers use franchised workshops and, through the Castrol Engine Warranty scheme, independent workshops can now offer a similar level of protection, with the backing of a well-known, trusted brand. For more information, click here.
The drastic reduction in workshop activity meant that cars may still have been operating beyond the point when an oil service was due and were therefore running on old oil. Many vehicles may not have been driven, or may have only taken short journeys during lockdown.
We’ve seen plenty of information regarding how this affected vehicles’ batteries, but what about the engine system? These reduced usage patterns are not ideal for a car’s engine, and can compound existing problems if a vehicle is operating on old or unsuitable engine oil. Although engine oil is generally stable, water and contaminants can enter the oil supply during an extended period of inactivity, and the subsequent reaction can cause sludge and deposits, and accelerate engine wear.
Castrol’s recently released Engine Shampoo is an effective remedy that technicians can offer to their customers, particularly those whose engine has experienced a build-up of sludge. The pre- oil change treatment reduces engine sludge by up to 85%, and provides a deep clean of the engine. Importantly, this is solvent-free.
Currently, the engine cleaner market is dominated largely by solvent-based products, which can degrade engine seals and dislodge sludge in larger, denser deposits. This can cause blockages in vital oil ways and lead to oil leaks. Castrol Engine shampoo reduces this risk by dissolving and flushing out sludge during the oil change process, helping to maintain engine power and efficiency.
Once the old oil has been flushed out, the engine will be ready for an oil change. Technicians unsure of which oil a car needs can use the Castrol Oil Selector, by clicking here, which provides personalised product recommendations based on the vehicle.
Over half of the world’s major vehicle manufacturers use Castrol e-Fluids as part of their factory fill. The Castrol e-Fluid range includes transmission fluids, coolants and greases. Here are our thoughts on the range:
Specialist greases are required for the increasing number of on-board electric motors that perform a wide range of duties, from providing motive power to supporting the vehicle’s ancillary services.
Specialist transmission fluids are required to lubricate at very high temperatures, whilst also being in contact with electrical components.
Specialist coolants are needed to maintain optimal performance of the battery, power electronics and the motor.
These Castrol e-Fluids often perform very different duties to the fluids used in internal combustion engine cars, but they share the need for a deep understanding of fluid performance. A number of vehicle manufacturers are partnering with Castrol to develop e-Fluids for their battery electric vehicles and equip them from the factory.
The transition to alternative fuel vehicles, including hybrids, has created some challenges to the industry. Castrol is working hard to support workshop employees through these changes, and offers technicians online training to improve their knowledge and capabilities when servicing an alternative-fuel vehicle. We are developing specific training assets to help independent workshop staff improve their knowledge and understanding of hybrid vehicles and powertrains.