Jobbers like to sell suspension parts… they are a good profit item and, of course, always needed because of the safety issue.
Vehicles with suspension problems are more liable to have issues on the road thus endangering themselves and other motorists. Stopping, and inferior ride control—diving, difficult steering—are only two of the problems but the biggest one is the non-ability to stop when needed.
I certainly realize jobbers are very busy people and that many do not like to have questions posed to them for inclusion in an article, so we only have one person’s take on this particular subject… but a very reliable and knowledgeable one at that—Douglas Squires of Colonial Auto Parts based in Newfoundland/Labrador. He makes some excellent points.
Autosphere: We often hear that ride control replacement is one of the biggest opportunities for the aftermarket, what are your thoughts on that?
Doug: Ride control sales are a difficult one as the deterioration is gradual and consumers seldom realize their ride control needs replacing. Most consumers are not aware of the importance of proper ride control to overall vehicle safety thus making sales/repairs in this area a harder sale. This is a critical vehicle element as it impacts stopping, poor ride control reduces the ability of the brakes to stop the vehicles in sufficient time.
Autosphere: As vehicles are lasting longer, have you seen any uptick in demand for shocks, struts and other suspension components?
Doug: As vehicles are retained for longer periods the demand for ride control and suspension has increased significantly. The longer the usable life of the vehicle, the more likely wear items such as ride control and suspension will need to be replaced. The complete strut category and control arms have grown in volume of sales in the past number of years and will likely continue to grow as vehicles are operated for longer periods.
Autosphere: How do you think our industry can do the most effective job in educating consumers on the importance of ride control replacement as a safety and cost-saving measure (accident reduction and long-term maintenance savings)?
Doug: Ride control is not something easily seen or heard until it breaks. When a vehicle has control or suspension issues it can be easily seen from a distant observation of the vehicle, but it is less noticeable when traveling in the vehicle. When something is not easily seen or heard it is much harder to convince the consumer that the repair/replacement is necessary, so education is important.
Autosphere: What’s the current situation regarding supply chains as it relates to obtaining ride control components for your shop customers and getting them delivered to service providers?
Doug: We have no issues with sourcing ride control components that we have identified.
Autosphere: With more hybrids and EVs on the roads, are you seeing any changes in ride control replacement frequency and the type of products in demand?
Doug: EVs are still a small portion of the vehicles in operation and have impacted demand. Assuming EVs continue to grow you will likely see an increase in ride control category sales as the batteries are substantially heavier causing more wear and tear on steering and suspension parts.
We would love to be able to reach other jobbers for various articles and if you would like to contribute, please touch base with me—[email protected]. I would be very happy to hear from you—we have another article coming up soon!