Costs Push Russians to Less Expensive Car Care


Costs Push Russians to Less Expensive Car Care
Motor oil bottles on the shelves of an automotive parts store in Russia. Lube Report Staff Photo/Boris Kamchev

Exorbitant prices for car parts and accessories are discouraging Russian motorists from visiting large stations for service, including oil changes, and are instead driving them to small local garages, carrying motor oils and other parts ordered online or bought at aftermarket stores, according to a market study.

The higher prices are the result of Western sanctions against the country’s economy, said Russian marketing expert Alexander Gruzdev, head of Los Angeles-based Gruzdev-Analyze consultancy.

Some foreign suppliers of lubricants and other automotive parts exited Russia either to comply with sanctions by other governments or in their own protests over Moscow’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine. The drop in supply pushed up prices, as did the broader inflation that has battered the globe’s economy.

Prices in Russia for car parts and accessories doubled and, in some cases, tripled since the outbreak of the war last year in February.

The study by Gruzdev-Analyze is based on a survey of more than 6,000 motorists from 72 different cities across Russia, conducted in face-to-face interviews. The results are not representative by city, but are for the whole country, the consultancy said.

In the first half of 2023 and in 2022, around 30% of the respondents purchased parts and accessories and had their vehicles serviced at large, certified service stations, compared to 35% in 2021 and 37% in 2020, according to the study.

In the first half of 2023 and in 2022, the majority of respondents – 70% – purchased car parts and went to independent garages or performed maintenance themselves. In 2021 this number was 65% of the total while in 2020 it was 63%.

“The reason for this is that motorists need to save money,” Gruzdev said “Car owners buy the parts without assistance and subsequently go to local garage services, where the part can be installed for much lesser cost.”

He added that such an approach leads to a conditional economy – if the cars are serviced in these local garages, they do not provide any warranty, and the risk falls on the car’s owner.

The risk of having service performed at local garages can be related not only to the expertise of the technicians employed in these small shops but also to the increased possibility of purchasing a poor quality aftermarket parts or even fake parts such as fake oils or car accessories, according to the study.