Avoiding Scams When Servicing Your Vehicle

oil changes synthetic oil

People are quickly learning that to get the maximum mileage out of a car, you have to do proper maintenance. Many are wary of repair shops, however, because they do not know what to believe when a repair shop tells them they need something preventive performed on their car.

In a 2016 American Automobile Association study, two out of three U.S. drivers said they did not trust auto repair shops in general – citing overcharges, recommendations for unnecessary services and poor past experiences for their lack of confidence.  It also found that baby boomers are more likely to trust auto repair shops than younger drivers.

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. I want to give you some of the common things that I believe are suggested too often and not necessary.

Replacing Air Filters

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.

Fluid Flushes

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.

Oil Changes

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.

Fuel Injectors

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.

Where to Get Your Service Done

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.

Photo Credit: otomobil/Shutterstock

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10 Comments
  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.

  2. Frederick Moses 2 weeks ago

    Thanks Jerry very useful information. I had a interesting experience with McDavid Nissan on Gulf Freeway 45-S
    by Fuqua street. I took my 2012 Nissan Altima (only owner) to get a wheel alignment done. They checked it out,
    they said alignment was still good. I was happy. Few days later I used the wipers, to squirt some windshield wash to clean the wind shield. It worked prior to the alignment job. I drove to my local repar shop the following day. I did not find the Owner. He was out for the day. I drove home popped the hood open to see if I could spot the issue. Fluid level was full. I decided to look at the fuse box. Noticed fuse missing for wind shield pump. I drove to Auto Zone bought a fuse. Bingo it worked. Had I taken it back to the dealer. They would have given me a story to replace washer pumy. Given me a big bill. kept the car for a day. Since then I lost confidence with McDavid Service. Sorry to say this (Bunch of thives). Just thought i would share my story.
    Thanks
    Fred Moses

    • Car Pro 2 weeks ago

      Thanks for the info Fred. After your experience, I am glad they are not one of my dealers!

      Jerry Reynolds, President
      Car Pro Radio Network

  3. Scott 2 weeks ago

    THE FLUSH

    I had a 1997 Ford Escort that starting having a weird noise coming from the power steering. The feedback through the steering wheel was really strange. I use a couple of shops in Houston that I know very well. They suggested a B.G. flush. If I wasn’t satisfied in three days that money would go toward the parts or labor or my pocket. I think they wanted to experiment, I thought we were wasting time. Soon after leaving the shop the steering felt really good. Unbelievable. Next day I went back and got a small, almost empty, can of this flush. I took it to work, an R&D lab on the ship channel. A PHD chemical engineer played with it. Results: “This is real chemistry”. Exact quote. He explained how the chemicals removed the old sludge and how the fatty acid kept it in suspension so that it could be flushed out.
    In 2007 and 30,000 miles later at 197,000 miles the steering was still good when I sold the car.

    • Car Pro 2 weeks ago

      Thanks for sharing this story Scott, I’ve not had any experience with BG so that is good to know!

      Jerry Reynolds, President
      Car Pro Radio Network

  4. W R Watkins 2 weeks ago

    I recently had my Lexus LS 460 serviced at the delaership where we recentl y moved to. They recommended getting new tires as they only had about 5,000 miles left on them. I declined this service. The next day I received an email giving me a 15% discount on the recommended service. Why did they not give me the discount while in for service? This does not seem too ethical.

    • Car Pro 2 weeks ago

      I can’t say with certainty, but I’m guessing everyone who services there got the same email. Most dealers send service specials out every month. I would not assume there is anything unethical here at all.

      Jerry Reynolds, President
      Car Pro Radio Network

  5. Robert Cramer 2 weeks ago

    Jerry,
    Really enjoyed this article. I’m a real stickler when it comes to maintaining my 2007 Honda Fit Sport. If there is something coming down the Pike that eventually needs replacing/repairing, I tell the svcs advisor to do it NOW.
    After 225,000 miles of carefree driving, I finally had to replace the clutch at 216,000 miles. Other than the clutch replacement and regular routine Maintenance this eleven year old car is a gem to drive.

  6. Stephen Cumming 2 weeks ago

    Jerry,
    I have a 2004 Honda Odyssey van that was serviced regularly by Vandergriff Honda in Arlington. One of the Service Advisors, Mike Symank was my “go to guy.” Mike is terrific – he genuinely cares about his customers, and has always given me timely advice concerning the service of my van. My van had 185,000 miles on it when I finally decided to buy a new vehicle. Because of the trust that I have in the Vandergriff organization, I bought a new 2018 Acura RDX from Vandergriff Acura. So far, I have been quite pleased with the service department at Vandergriff Acura, and look forward to a long association with them, as well as my new advisor, James Newman. I feel that although it may cost a little more at the dealer, the advantage is that they have factory trained technicians and use factory authorized parts. It is a well know fact that Honda has a reputation for building quait vehicles that are dependable to own and drive. I know that my van has lasted as long as it has due not only to Mike’s advice and guidance on my service issues, but by the quality service that the techs at Vandergriff provide. I would not hesitate to recommend Vandergriff for the service (and sales) of Honda and Acura vehicles.

    • Car Pro 2 weeks ago

      Stephen,

      Thanks for sharing. Both Vandergriff dealerships do a very good job and I am happy to have them on the show.

      Jerry Reynolds, President
      Car Pro Radio Network

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