Car owners can save money by preparing for scheduled maintenance before they ever pull into the service department at the dealership. Blindly agreeing to the recommendations of the service advisor can be an expensive mistake.
What Maintenance is Necessary?
Your automobile may not require as much maintenance as the service advisor recommends. Auto dealers are in the business to sell parts and service, and may suggest more work than is actually necessary.
The best source of information about maintaining your car is the service manual, which outlines the manufacturer’s scheduled maintenance recommendations.
Vehicles under Warranty
If your car is under warranty, mechanical problems are repaired at no charge. Routine maintenance and the replacement of wear items like brake pads are excluded from the warranty.
Routine maintenance is needed at mileage intervals that are outlined in the owner’s manual. These intervals are often less frequent than auto dealers, quick oil change companies and independent mechanics recommend. For example, the owner’s manual clearly states that the transmission fluid should be replaced at 80,000 miles, but the service advisor says it is better to do it at 30,000 miles. Should you follow the service schedule in the manual or pay to have the work done earlier? The owner’s manual is a reliable source for information about how to maintain your vehicle and keep it running smoothly. Following the factory service schedule is a safe and sensible decision.
Preparing for the Service Visit
Review the owner’s manual for the work required at the present mileage before delivering the car for maintenance. It will be helpful to have a printed version of this information with you to compare to the dealers recommendations.
Compare quotes from different dealerships and garages. This can be done via e-mail on a dealer’s website or by obtaining telephone quotes for the specific services you require. Make a note of the service advisor’s name that prepared the quote for you.
Check for Technical Service Bulletins and recalls for your vehicle before your service appointment. Print out all information you find and give it to the service advisor when you arrive at the dealership.
At the Service Department
Remove all valuables from the car before it is taken to the service area.
Do not allow yourself to be pressured when you are speaking with the service advisor. Take the time you need to have your questions answered and make the appropriate decisions before agreeing to any service.
The service advisor may present you with an official looking document of factory recommended maintenance for your vehicle. Compare this with your owner’s manual before agreeing to any service. There may be discrepancies, at which point you will need to decide what services you are willing to pay for.
Additional work may be recommended after your car has been inspected. Not all of this work will need to be done that day. Postpone non-emergency repairs if they do not fit into your budget.
The dealer may offer discounted service packages, which may or may not save you money. Compare the maintenance your car needs with the services provided in the discount package. If there are items not included in your owner’s manual, decline the discount package and opt for the factory recommendations.
If the estimate seems high for the work that is being done, ask the service advisor to justify or adjust the cost. If that cannot be done, shop other dealerships for a better price.