If you are like me and plan on keeping your car for a while longer then you want to be assured that you keep it in good running order. How do you save money doing this?
Do you ever visit the dealership for something as simple as an oil change and your service advisor wants to pile on additional maintenance items where your bill will end up being well over $100? Ever wondered which items are actually essential or how you could save money getting your car services? Well, we are going to help you with just that.
You probably know your car a lot better than you think and for a service advisor to recommend that you spend upwards of $100 to $300 for his so-called “preventative maintenance” package when you bring your car in for an oil change is just ludicrous. I completely understand that a car has moving parts and IT DOES require preventative maintenance BUT… you must not fall for the service advisors recommendations all the time.
Let’s say you have 30,000 miles on your car and you bring it for an oil change. At 30,000 miles the service advisor may want to recommend that you change out some additional fluids and tell you that you need new tires. Now, new tires at 30,000 may be too early for some vehicles depending on many factors. You very well could need new tires if you never rotated them and your alignment is bad. This is a case where you may want to check out things for yourself. Simply looking at your tread on your tire may not be the answer. You may want to feel, with your hand, your tires and get a measurement on how much tread is actually left. Some people may use the penny trick where if your tread is well below Lincoln’s head then it is time to consider new tires. Now if you see the threads or the steal belt then you must replace the tire or tires immediately.
With a recommendation from your service advisor to change additional fluids you must refer to the owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations. Many times the change of transmission fluid is not needed at 30,000 miles nor would the coolant fluid be. With many newer vehicles this may be recommended at 60,000 miles. They key is to a lot of maintenance items on your vehicle is doing research. Seeking advice from others who drive the same year make and model as yours is a good step also. This can be done by Google searching for forums online where others share the same experiences. This goes along with the situation where you have to perform a repair on your vehicle. Get as much information as you can before taking your car to the dealership.
Oil change interval rates can save you or break you.
An oil change interval has been argued a million times and I have concluded that 3000 miles is a bit too soon for an oil change as 15,000 miles is way too long to wait. A good judgment of when to change your oil is somewhat dependent on your driving styles. A lot of stop and go in heavy city traffic may warrant you changing closer to 3000 miles than 7000 miles. When your vehicle has to work extra hard most of the time it may require that you change your oil closer to 3000 miles. I say “close” because researchers have found that most modern cars do not break down the newer oil formulations fast enough in the time that it takes to drive 3000 miles to cause damage. It is more like 4000 to 5000 miles in many vehicles as a good rule of thumb. If you have a vehicle that requires full synthetic oil then you may go longer depending on the recommendation from the vehicle manufacturer. Usually the interval on a vehicle that recommends synthetic oil is around 7500 miles to 10,000. I believe 10,000 miles is too long to wait due to my personal experience but that case can be argued by people who drive Mercedes Benz or other luxury vehicles. The point is, if you change your oil too early at every 3000 miles then you would have spent hundreds more for the cost of maintaining your vehicle especially if you pay a premium for full synthetic oil. Not only will it help your wallet but the environment at the same time.
Dealerships get a large amount of money from maintenance recommendation packages that they suggest that you perform when you take your vehicle in for simple routine maintenance. Dealerships also want to take advantage of you when it comes to getting your car repaired. Sometimes the dealership is the best place to take your car when a repair is needed. Put it this way, the dealership may have worked on several other vehicles that are similar to yours with the same repair issue so that puts them in a position to save you time. Now will it save you money? Probably not when compared to another none-dealership shop. You may be able to talk to your service advisor about the same repair costing less at another reputable shop and/or dealership if you do comparison shopping. Other times you may want to seek an online source that may have already performed the same type of repair at the dealership. Arm yourself with enough information to take to your service advisor that could aid in saving you money. If all else fails, ask to talk to the service manager. He or she would be the one that can make a change or adjustment in your repair bill depending on the situation.
If you purchased a vehicle from the same dealership that you bring in the vehicle for maintenance or repair, let the service advisor or manager know this information. Sometimes this is pre-programmed into the system at the dealership that you purchased your vehicle but it does not hurt to remind them that you are a loyal customer. You would be surprised how at the benefits some loyal customers receive in the service department.
What if you have a high mileage vehicle and you bring it in to a dealership for service? How do you save money then?
With a high mileage vehicle you can still save money by knowing your vehicles history. Knowing your vehicles history will save you from paying additional money on recommended maintenance that is not needed. If your car has 100,000 miles on it and you bring it in for an oil change where the service advisor says “you need a coolant flush, transmission fluid change, air filter change, fuel filter replacement, drive belts replaced and maybe fuel injector cleaning (for giggles) and this will cost you $450.” Okay, what a shocker to you because according to the history of your vehicle you already had most of these items done at 75,000 miles minus the fuel filter. Funny how your oil change for $30 turns into $450 so fast. At this point simply telling your service advisor NO THANK YOU will instantly save you about $300 because you have made up your mind to only perform the NEEDED items. All of the other services that the service advisor recommended are not needed at this time.