Servicing Your Car & Avoiding Scams – Car Pro Commentary

Servicing your car 08_25_13People are quickly learning that to get the maximum mileage out of a car, you have to do proper maintenance. People tend to be afraid, however, because they do not know what to believe when a repair shop tells them they need something preventive performed on their car. Whether it is a dealer, or a repair shop, they are going to suggest things that in their view, needs to be done. While doing these things certainly won’t hurt anything, you have to remember that is how they make money. As I say on the radio all the time, go by what the manufacturer suggests.
The good news is that a recent study shows that 73% of people who had recent service were completely satisfied, and that is an encouraging number. The remaining 27% seemed to be really unhappy. Common complaints included overcharging and the repairs not being performed properly. The percentage of women who felt like they were taken advantage of was 30%, and that is an alarming number.
I want to give you some of the common things that I believe are suggested too often and not necessary. Let’s start with replacing the air filter. A lot of repair places want to change it every time they change the oil. Unless you travel a lot of dirt roads, a year or 15000 to 20000 miles, whichever comes first, is generally just fine. Check your factory maintenance guide, but that is a general rule.
Next, flushes. This has gotten to be a big item. Personally, if a vehicle is well maintained, I don’t find this necessary and would never consider flushing anything after a vehicle gets to 75,000 miles or so. The machines repair shops use are very high pressure and the risk of blowing out seals and gaskets is much greater than the reward in my opinion. Some flushes like power steering fluid are a real waste of money.
Then we have the oil change intervals. Oil today is so much better than it used to be, that even under the worst conditions, 5000 miles is plenty often. See what the manufacturer calls for and stick close to that. Also, check the sticker they leave on your windshield as soon as you get your oil changed, some places will place the interval at 3000 miles. If you don’t notice it right then, but later, you could end up changing it too often.
Another item is fuel injector cleaning. I have heard of shops recommending this every 10,000 miles. With all the detergent in today’s gasoline, this is just not necessary. For most vehicles, every 35000 to 40000 miles will serve you just fine.
If you have a repair shop or dealership you trust, stick with them, they have obviously earned that trust and should be rewarded for it. If you don’t have a regular place that you use, remember there is nothing wrong with shopping by phone or Internet. You will often find a vast difference in prices for the same operation. You can also get a feel for how friendly and efficient a place is. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut.
Lastly, don’t assume a dealership service department is much more expensive. Dealerships have been forced to get way more competitive on common things, like oil changes, tires, batteries, and brakes. There is something to be said too for factory certified technicians versus one technician who works on a Mercedes and then a Kia. Be smart, it will save you time and money.

1 Comment
  1. Claudette Rogers 5 years ago

    Jerry, First, let me say how sorry I am for the loss of your son. I can’t imagine and my heart goes out to you and your family, with prayers for comfort to you.

    I like your emails and depend on them to help me take care of my car, a 2001 Mazda 626 with a little over 68,500 miles. I try to look carefully at the hoses, tires and everything else I can think of. Thanks for the messages today about flushing, power steering fluid and fuel injector cleaning. I
    needed that. Thanks for the great newsletter.

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