Have Oil Changes Become a Commodity?

In the past month or so, I’ve heard a lot of Service Managers and Fixed Operations Directors express that they’ve resigned to the notion that prices dictated by their manufacturers commoditize their routine services – especially oil changes. In other words, their hands are tied – they must now compete on price. To their point, it seems like oil change coupons and promotions are everywhere. I Googled “Oil Change Coupon” and found oil change services starting at $18.95, $10 Off, and even an oil change and tire rotation for $29.95.  Does this suggest that oil changes are indeed a commodity? In the truest sense, a product is a commodity when purchase decisions are made on price alone. As defined by Webster’s: Commoditize to render (a good or service) widely available and interchangeable with one provided by another company Given this definition, oil changes fit the 1st part – they are widely available.  Yet, I don’t quite buy into the notion that oil changes are completely interchangeable from one service provider to another.  Here is why: 188,000,000 oil changes were performed by quick lubes last year – their average sell price for an oil change was over $38. (That’s $20 more than many manufacturer / online promos.) Thus, consumers are not buying on price alone. In an independent study performed by the Quick Lube Industry, consumers indicated that they selected Quick Lubes (in order of importance) for 1) Convenience, 2) Fast Service, and 3) Reputation.  The same study indicated that consumers selected New Car Dealerships (in order of importance) for 1) Trust and 2) Reputation. Thus, consumers are not buying...