Car Care

Staying Attuned to a Regular Maintenance Schedule

Remember when your parents always told you to take care of your stuff and it would last longer? Well, not much changes as a grown-up when it comes to looking after what you own. This goes for your house, clothes, body, and vehicle. While you may take care of your house because you spend a lot of time there and you look after your clothes because your appearance is everything, your vehicle can be another matter. Well, same for your body, but that is entirely other discussion in itself!

To Maintenance or Not to Maintenance….That is the Question

Basically, when it comes to vehicle maintenance, there are two groups of people that exist at opposite ends of the spectrum with very few in between. One group believes that if it is not broken, then do not fix it. Or they think that the vehicle will tell them when it needs attention – usually at the most inconvenient time possible. It is highly probably that this group also has “wash me” emblazoned in dust tracks on the back of their vehicle as well.

Their vehicles are simply a mechanism to get from point A to point B with little time or concern for the reality that they will not go on forever. And with recent advancements in technology, there seems to be fewer intervals in which vehicles need to receive maintenance, which makes it easy to forget when a check-up is actually necessary. Many people must fit into this category because a 2001 National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence survey found that 35% people neglect oil, filter, and lube services; 19% skip transmission checks; 14% forego tire maintenance; and numerous smaller percentages opt to not look after their cooling systems, brakes, or belts.

Then there is the other group that maintains a diary on their vehicle’s every movement. Their owner’s manual has numerous bookmarks while the maintenance log contains copious notes with dates, times, and probably even the weather conditions that day. They view their vehicles as well-oiled machines that must be handled with kid-gloves so that they live as long as possible and perform at optimum levels. This group is so meticulous because they understand the value that their vehicle holds and can maintain if it is properly cared for in terms of regular maintenance and attention.

Three Maintenance Schedules: How to Know Which One Works

You may not realize but the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule differs from the dealer’s maintenance schedule. You may also have your own schedule that fits your availability. Which one works?

Easy! It’s the one that is right for your vehicle. Well, maybe not so easy. Her are some ways to make the decision on what maintenance schedule works. It can be confusing when a dealer pulls out a different list of scheduled maintenance than your manual and then proceeds to charge you more than you expected as well.

Let’s first look at the differences between a dealer and a manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations:

Dealer Maintenance Manufacturer Maintenance
  • More comprehensive list of maintenance recommendations.
  • More expensive.
  • Not every service suggestion from dealer is really necessary.
  • Works well for people who plan on keeping their vehicles a long time.
  • This may be required on lease vehicles.
Tip: Be sure to call around dealerships to find the best price and ask about packages versus individual pricing. Also, be aware that lowest pricing is not always best service.
  • Basic maintenance services are listed in the manual log, such as oil changes, tune-ups, and tires. Manufacturers want to keep maintenance simple and cost-effective for their vehicle owners.
  • May not be any less expensive than dealer maintenance depending on where you take the vehicle for service.
  • Works well for all vehicles, including leases and long-term ownership.
Tip: Remember that not everything that needs to be done on your vehicle is listed in the owner’s manual, so it is important to find additional sources on how to take care of your vehicle.

Then, there is your own schedule of taking your car, which could be sporadic or way past the actual deadline for a certain maintenance item. While you are busy, living in the fast lane, your vehicle will conk out eventually and you will have to pull over to the side of your life while you wait to get your vehicle fixed.

A Gentle Reminder

There is a better way if you cannot keep track with manufacturer or dealer recommendations. Today, there are companies that will work as your service partner. These partners send you e-mail reminders of when maintenance is due on your vehicle. This system also provides helpful reminders and a real-time e-log on each of your vehicles. Remember, if you have a warranty on your vehicle and a part fails due to lack of maintenance, the warranty will not be honored and you will be full price for the repairs.

Benefits of Preventative Maintenance

As with what you eat or drink, your vehicle also improves its performance by undergoing the proper care. When you neglect your body, you get sick or feel lethargic. Likewise, if a vehicle is driven into the ground and never receives any proper check-ups, it will let you know by eventually failing to start.

Services on some vehicles start at 5,000-7,500 mile intervals while others are later at 10,000 or 15,000 miles. There are minimal services required on the smaller intervals, which usually only entail oil and filter checks, but the larger ones occur at 15,000 and 30,000 mile and encompass a full-vehicle inspection. These maintenance appointments provide an opportunity to clean out the car’s systems through flushing hoses, topping up fluids, rotating tires, and replacing items that are essential for the changing seasons and road conditions. It will also help cut harmful greenhouse gas missions and save money on fuel. All of these check-ups also help the owner learn about any issues before they become very costly problems.

Making Wise Investment Decisions

One of the first things you should do when you get a vehicle is get a sense of how long you plan on having the vehicle. If is a lease, then this decision is quite simple. However, regardless of your situation, maintenance should be at the top of your priority list. The vehicle is an investment and it has most likely cost you a considerable amount of resources.

That’s why it is important to take care of it through regular maintenance. Regardless of whether you follow the dealer’s guidelines, those suggested by the manufacturer, or track service yourself, it means that you can keep more money in your pocket now and spend less in the future when you trade it in for a new vehicle because it has held its value better.