5 (More!) Aftermarket Trends to Watch

by | Jan 30, 2024 | 0 comments

Change is afoot in Canada’s aftemarket and while most will help boost aftermarket opportunities, many will also require adjustments to make the most of them for your business, and that of your aftermarket automotive service provider customers.

In the Annual Aftermarket Intelligence Report produced by Jobber Nation and Indie Garage, we presented what we think are some of the key trends to watch.

These Trends to Watch cover the gamut from overall service market trends supported by what we believe to be the best available research data, and other trends that we’re seeing play out in the bays, but may not always be clearly manifested in the data. At least not yet.

Here are a few. For the rest, and supporting research, check out the Aftermarket Intelligence Issue HERE

We encourage all aftermarket professionals to discuss these and other trends internally and with your customers to ensure that a strategy for success and the reequired resources are in place.

Trend to watch

Tire repair/replacement: Winter, All-Weather, EV tires

Winter tires continue to gain in popularity.

Seventy-six per cent of Canadian motorists believe extreme winter weather events related to climate change have made winter tires more important than ever, according to a new Leger survey commissioned by the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada. The survey also reveals evidence that financial pressures are causing some drivers to have doubts about investing in winter tires. One in three (31 per cent) say they are now less likely to buy winter tires because of high living costs. However, the study also finds that 85 per cent of drivers believe winter tires are an important investment despite the rising cost of living. TRAC’s 2023 Canadian Consumer Winter Tire Study finds that outside Quebec, where winter tires are the law, winter tire usage now stands at 71 per cent.

In parrallel to this trend, specialty EV tires continue to make inroads as EVs have been shows to experience accelerated tire wear due to vehicle weight, torque characteristics, and driving inputs. There remains ongoing concerns that EV drivers are not aware of the special requirements an EV, typically much heavier that a comparably-sized ICE-powered vehicle, places on tires and may opt for a tire that does not meet the correct specifications over cost, availability, or lack of awareness.

Trend to watch


While ICE-vehicles continue to be plagued with such annoying failures as heater core leaks (love that sweet smell of coolant?), stuck blend doors, and automotive temperature controls that don’t anymore, the growing world of the EV and the relationship between performance and its HVAC systems is new.

And, while ICE-vehicle drivers may not recognize that their a/c runs virtually year round, EV drivers are likely even less aware of the full impact of their HVAC system on the operation of their vehicle. Much efforts has gone into ensure HVAC systems are efficient as they can have a major effect on range, particularly in “extreme” ambient temperatures or demanding driving conditions (e.g. anywhere in Canada).

At high temperatures, the need to cool the cabin, can reduce range by 25% or more. Below -10 C warming the cabin with a resistive heater using a positive temperature coefficient (PTC) material, but without a heat pump, can reduce range by up to 50%.

And of course there is the all-important need to keep the batteries in their operating window. So malfunctions of the HVAC system can have dire consequences.

With this in mind, technicians should consider a training update for EVs that covers areas including: Electric A/C compressor operation and service; Heat pumps and high voltage electric heaters (common on PHEVs and BEVs); Power electronics and high voltage battery thermal management; J1772 and Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) operation and diagnostics; and customer communications on coping with “range anxiety” and cabin temperature preconditioning

Trend to watch

Battery replacement: 12V SLI Endures

Despite continuing investigations into the use of Li-ion technology, the legacy technology of the lead-acid 12 volt starting, lighting, ignition (SLI) battery can be expected to endure for the foreseeable future, in both ICE vehicles and EVs.

While the “starting” function is obviously not necessary for full BEV applications, these 12V batteries still provide important support for “always-on” connected car and ADAS technologies that are proliferating across the vehicle landscape regardless of the motive power technology.

Service professionals should be aware, however, that EV/HEV drivers may not be know that their vehicle is equipped with a 12V battery. In a survey by battery maker Clarios, 84 percent did not know their EV/HEV automobile uses both high-voltage lithium and low voltage (12-volt) AGM batteries.

They should also be aware that 12V batteries designed for use in EVs do have specific design features to meet the needs of those vehicles, and that the vast majority of EV drivers agree with this imperative.

Trend to watch

Transmission service: Opportunity growing

The proliferation of transmissions and control systems has challenged repairers to accurately diagnose and repair transmissions, with increasing demand – likely the result of Canadians keeping their vehicles longer but also deferring maintenance past the point of no return – putting pressure on transmission specialists. As with other sectors, they are challenged to staff up to keep pace.

In addition, the rebound in miles driven and aging vehicle fleet is paying dividends for shops who are equipped to capture the business, either through dedicated in-house skills, or connecting with a reliable partner.

In the longer term, it is expected that CVTs will continue to provide ample work for shops, as will work truck market-focused transmissions.

Further out, multi-speed EV transmissions promise to provide opportunities too.

Even with some inflationary pressures moderating, financing costs for new vehicles, in addition to ongoing vehicle supply shortages, play into the hands this segment.

Trend to watch

Electrical Systems: Continued investment paying dividends

Service professionals continue to increase their investments in diagnostic equipment and online resources, both OE and aftermarket, as vehicle systems increase in complexity and a “one-size fits all” solution continues to be elusive.

This all in the face of advances in Right to Repair related initiatives in Canada that are projected to provide full access to tools, training, and repair information that will be increasingly important.

While most technicians can still access vehicle systems through OBD II ports, on-board readouts, and other hard-wired connections to diagnostic tools, wireless diagnostic communications through secured gateways threatens to hobble even the best technicians.

Recently passed legislation in Quebec and the progress of federal legislative initiatives promise to address this and require automakers to provide an avenue for access by independents in the near future.

Still, most in the aftermarket will find what they need to repair older model vehicles common in shops today, even if this means having a variety of diagnostic tools on hand to do so.

Check out the rest of the Aftermarket Intelligence Issue digiial edition

Click to read the entire Aftermarket Intelligence Report


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