Advantages of Servicing Your Vehicle with a Dealership Service Center

Dealership Service Center

Inevitably, car owners are going to need to have their vehicle serviced sooner or later. When that time comes, they are faced with the decision of where to have the necessary service done – at the dealership service center where the vehicle was purchased or at a local repair shop. There are several pros and cons to both, but for the purposes of this blog post, we’re going to focus on the work performed by the dealership.

One of the biggest advantages of servicing a vehicle at the dealership begins right in the service bays. Dealerships employ technicians that are considered specialists in working on a particular line of vehicles. They are manufacturer-trained and, in most cases, only work on the make of vehicles that are sold through that particular dealership.

The specialist training is often only offered to a manufacturer’s network of dealerships, and encompasses not only the service technicians, but service managers, advisors and support staff as well. This means that the men and women working on the vehicles have intimate knowledge of how these vehicles are supposed to perform and how/when to make necessary repairs.

That knowledge is extremely valuable to dealerships, and it does not come cheap. Dealers typically offer higher salaries or other incentives in order to recruit and retain these specialized personnel, which in turn can increase labor rates. Despite the higher labor cost, drivers really do get what they pay for in terms of know-how, accuracy, and service.

Another advantage is the relationship that is built with the dealership. By having a vehicle serviced regularly at the dealership, they have an accurate and up-to-date picture of the road and service history of that vehicle. They are better equipped to understand what is going on with each individual vehicle because they have all prior service records right at their fingertips.

While shopping around for the best deal at local repair shops might save time and money in the short-term, drivers may run into issues such as being presented with conflicting recommendations, inaccurate diagnostic information, and inexact service timeframes in the long run due to a lack of consistent recordkeeping.

While having work done at a local repair shop may be more convenient, the fact is that  dealership service departments honor manufacturer and extended warranty coverage free of charge to their customers. This is a major plus to the customer in many ways, the least of which is to the wallet! Repair shops usually charge a deductible and/or for labor for warranty repairs and often have to order parts which are not usually kept on-hand – which could also lead to additional shipping charges passed on to the consumer by the repair shop. At a dealership, most parts needed to make repairs to the line of vehicles they sell are readily available, thus requiring less time for repairs to be made.

Many of the warranty advantages are contingent on the vehicle breaking down within easy access to the dealerships, so if a problem were to occur further away from home, drivers may be in the situation where they have no choice but to use a local repair shop regardless of warranty coverage.

Finally, dealerships also offer their customers OE (original equipment) parts for repairs to their vehicles. This is advantageous for those repairs that fall under warranty, but can cost customers more if they are not covered. Also, many dealership service centers will not install or service after-market products that are outside of the factory standard for that particular vehicle, leaving a local or specialty repair shop the only option for those owners.

These advantages highlight some of the areas where using a dealership service center benefits car owners. Have you always used the service center at the dealership where you purchased your vehicle? Have some past experience, positive or negative, about dealing with a dealership service center? Let us know in the comments section below. We value your input!

Tischer Motor Minute—Vehicle Safety, Part 1: Tires

Welcome back for our second Tischer Motor Minute video! For the next few installments, we’ll be bringing you travel safety tips. These short videos are intended to give you manageable tips for maintaining your car and broadening your knowledge base about your vehicle. Since we know you can’t always make it to the dealership to converse with us one-on-one, we’re bringing our expertise to you. You can catch our first video here and view our latest video below. In the event you don’t have time to view the video, here’s what you need to know.

When you bring your vehicle in to our dealership for service, we examine your vehicle through a multi-point inspection process where we check various aspects of your car such as brakes, tires, fluid levels, and more. We do this to make sure your vehicle is always in safe condition for you and your family. However, we understand personal obligations and travel time don’t always make it easy for you to get to your local dealership or mechanic for service. So here are a few tire safety checks you can easily do for yourself:

1. Tire sidewalls. Examine the outside walls of the tire and check for any cuts or bulges. If you see any cuts or bulges, this is usually an indication of damage on some level and is, obviously, potentially harmful to your safety.

2. Tire pressure. Always keep your tires properly inflated. Your car’s ideal tire pressure can be found simply by checking the sticker, usually found just inside the driver’s door on the car’s frame. It’s easy to adjust your own tire pressure. You can purchase a manual or digital pressure gauge and use the reading to either add or let out pressure from your tire. It is important to note that you should examine/adjust your tire pressure only when your tires are cool/cold. Driving causes your tires to heat which will naturally inflate your tire’s pressure. So, wait until the tire has cooled to assess the pressure.

3. Warning lights. Most cars have a built-in tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS). Pay attention to any warning lights or alerts that appear on your dashboard or driver display regarding low tire pressure.

4. Tread depth. Tire tread depth also has to be at an optimal level. You can buy an inexpensive tread gauge or, you can do the penny test! Turn a penny upside down and insert good ol’ Abe Lincoln’s head in the tire tread. As long as you see his head covered, the tire is in good shape. With a gauge, the minimum safety depth is 2/32”. If your car fails either test, it’s probably time for us to “talk tires.”

So there you have it—four quick, simple, and affordable ways to perform DIY car maintenance before any traveling you have on your agenda. Of course, we at Tischer hope you will consider us for any service you may need on your vehicle in the future. If you need to schedule service, please don’t hesitate to contact us on Facebook or Twitter, or simply let us know what you think of our Motor Minute videos so far.

Product Review: Pinnacle Leather Care Products

leather care

For this week’s product review post, we’re going to focus on leather and vinyl care products for the interior of vehicles. Most vehicles have some sort of vinyl and/or leather trim accenting the interior and, just like the exterior, sun exposure can wreak havoc on dashboards, seats and door panels if they aren’t protected.

Pinnacle Waxes & Polishes make an entire line of products dedicated to cleaning, protecting and conditioning the leather and vinyl components of a car’s cabin. For more than 20 years, Pinnacle has been making some of the finest detailing formulas and supplies for protecting and preserving your vehicle. From its line of leather care products, to vehicle covers, microfiber buffing and polishing products, and guide books, they have been trusted by car enthusiasts everywhere!

Pinnacle Leather & Vinyl Cleaner – Removing stains from leather and vinyl care can be very challenging, especially if you use the wrong product. Petroleum-based cleaning solvents can end up causing more damage than good on dashboards, seats, and door panels. Pinnacle Leather & Vinyl Cleaner is a pure cleaner without any silicone oils, petroleum solvents or gloss agents. Instead, the formula uses water-based surfactants and non-alkaline cleaning agents to deeply clean and gently lift out dirt, grease, and oils from delicate leather and vinyl surfaces.

Check out what some our readers had to say about Pinnacle’s Leather & Vinyl Cleaner:

“I bought this product after an extensive review of other products. I have a mobile detailer come to wash my cars and he applies this to my wife’s leather seats. This product leaves a clean smell in the car without the glossy sheen or slippery feel of some products. Leaves the seats looking like new. Definitely get this product!”  D. Cripe

“I have to say that this product is as good as, if not better, than any other leather product on the market. Very easy to use, doesn’t leave the seats greasy or it doesn’t give you the wet look.” – L. Sanchez

Pinnacle Leather Conditioner – Interior leather, especially that of leather seats, has a certain supple texture and appearance that adds luxury and class to any vehicle.  Because leather is a natural skin, it is sensitive to many of the same things as our own skin, including overexposure to the sun and other elements. The VOC compliant formula in Pinnacle’s Leather Conditioner is rich in lanolin and natural oils. These oils absorb into the leather’s pores, replenishing the natural oils that are lost through processing and subsequent cleaning. It re-hydrates leather to help retain its softness and improve its resistance to cracking.

See what our readers are saying about Pinnacle’s Leather Conditioner:

“This is an outstanding leather conditioner that I’ve been using routinely on the seats in my Infiniti M35x. The car is 4 years old, is driven daily and all the leather seats look like new. No cracks, stains, or spots. The leather has remained quite soft. The fragrance this product leaves in the car is so nice that you’ll be tempted to apply it for that reason alone. Really a 5 star product that I initially purchased based on strongly positive automotive website reviews that were obviously quite correct. It is a bit expensive, but I think it is worth the investment.” – Michael B.

“I did some internet research two years ago when I bought my Mazda 3. I knew I was going to be rough on the leather bolsters, and I thought keeping them conditioned would be a good idea. Pinnacle seemed to have a great reputation, so I gave it a try. I’ve been a fan ever since. This stuff leaves my leather feeling soft, and it has a very clean scent that’s similar to that of a new car. If I remember correctly, this conditioner also had the UV protection that I was looking for.” – Kyle E.

Pinnacle Leather Cleaner & Conditioner – For those car care enthusiasts who are short on time, Pinnacle’s Leather Cleaner & Conditioner can provide adequate cleaning and protection of leather car interiors. Gentle cleansers penetrate the pores of the leather to lift out stains and dirt while moisturizers sink into the leather, restoring and hydrating from the inside out. While not as effective as the two-step cleaning and conditioning process, this formula is designed for quick and easy application for on-the-spot treatment.

This is what our readers thought of Pinnacle’s Leather Cleaner & Conditioner:

“This is the first leather cleaner and conditioner AIO product I have tried. The solution has a new leather scent which is quite pleasant. Pinnacle Leather Cleaner & Conditioner worked well on the seat and steering wheel. It surprised me how well it conditioned the leather seat & steering wheel. This is another great product from Pinnacle.” – John W.

“I’ve been using this stuff for quite a while and get the same successful results each and every time! You can really see in your seats how well it conditions the leather. I have always been impressed how well it cleaned being it’s a cleaner/conditioner combo.” – Chris B.

In addition to the products that we featured in this post, Pinnacle’s product line also includes waxes and polishes, application products and detailing guides. For a complete list of products, be sure to check out the website at pinnaclewax.com. Also, be sure to keep an eye on this blog in the weeks to come as we look into some of the other products Pinnacle makes!

Have you ever used any of these Pinnacle leather care products? Let us know what you think of them in the comments section below!

Product Review: Mothers Tire Care Products

Mothers Tire Car Products

Continuing with our blog series of product reviews, today we’re going to check out tire care products from Mothers Car Care. Since the early 1970s, Mothers has been producing some of the best aluminum alloy and chrome polishes and tire cleaners available to consumers today. Beginning with Mag & Aluminum Polish, Mothers has grown to encompass a product line of more than 70 items.

For the sake of today’s blog, we’re going to focus on the three tire care products designed to protect and bring out the shine in one of the most overlooked areas of a vehicle.

Mothers Foaming Wheel & Tire Cleaner – Mothers Wheel & Tire Cleaner is a foaming, non-acidic spray formulated to quickly and easily clean both wheels and tires, including blackwalls and whitewalls. The formula is safe for painted, clear-coated, color-coated, steel, modular, chrome, or factory-coated wheels and hubcaps and is designed to safely penetrate, dissolve and remove brake dust, grease, dirt, and grime.

Here is what some of our readers have had to say about the Foaming Wheel & Tire Cleaner:

“Though nothing beats the use of a brush and elbow grease, [Mothers Foaming Wheel & Tire Cleaner] really helps with the calipers, spaces my brush can’t reach, and especially the tires before I clean them. Just don’t expect this to wash your wheels for you, you still need to get down and scrub, this just helps a lot.” – Justin W.

“I tried this product after a failed attempt to remove heavy, track-use brake dust from my BMW’s wheels and all I can say is WOW! I used a rag to work the nooks and crannies and the wheels look new again. After the difficult time I had with regular car wash soap, I thought that Mothers would only remove some of the brake dust, but the wheels look new. Powerful stuff!” – Shay M.

Mothers Back-to-Black Tire Shine – Back-to-Black Tire Shine is formulated to provide a high-gloss, long lasting, protective barrier and to keep your tires looking blacker longer. Back-to-Black encapsulates cleaning agents designed to dissolve and lift stubborn browning, dirt, soil, grease, grime, road film, brake dust and old dressings from any color or brand of tire, including whitewalls, while still remaining gentle and safe on your tires.

Check out what our readers have to say about Back-to-Black Tire shine:

“This product is great! All you have to do after cleaning the tire is spray it with Mother’s Back-to-Black and let it dry. Amazingly easy and excellent results!”- Rick C.

“I’ve tried every blackening product out there, Black-Magic, Armor All, Meguiar’s, and even my own concoction and none work as well as this. Not only that, it lasts about 3-4 weeks outside in the weather, which I find amazing. Also it seems like the more you use it, the better it looks and the longer it stays black.” – Brooks J.

Mothers FX Tire Shine – FX Tire Shine is a formula which contains custom-crafted polymers and advanced coating agents designed to bind with the tire’s surface, shielding it from UV oxidation, brake dust and road grime. It provided a high-gloss surface that not only looks great, but protects as well.

Readers report:

“Mother’s FX Tire Shine really lasts. It worked its way into the tire and stayed strong for a few days. Even after the shine faded the tire had a nice rich black look to it. I have used Black Magic in the past, and that product would sling all over the wheel after driving. Have not experienced any sling with the FX! Very good product.” – Chad M.

“This is absolutely the best tire shine I’ve ever had and trust me, I’ve had a lot. I use the sponge to apply and it works great. It’s nice and thick and does not make a mess like liquid spray bottles, goes on smoothly and evenly, tires look awesome and stay like that for a long time. Very happy with this product.” – Jimmy K.

In addition to the three tire care products we featured today, Mothers’ line of products includes car washes and waxes, leather care products and even professional cleaning accessories. For more information on their products, check out Mothers website and be sure to check back in the next few weeks for reviews of their other products.

If you’ve ever used any of these or other tire care products, let us know how they compare in the comments section below!

*image: MiromiTintas/Flickr.com

Product Review: Turtle Wax® Automobile Waxes

car wax

For the second in our series of car-care product reviews, we’re hitting the exterior today and taking a look at automobile wax – specifically, those made by Turtle Wax®. Founded in Chicago in 1941, Turtle Wax® is the largest automotive appearance products company in the world, distributing its products to more than 90 countries worldwide.

Over the course of its more-than-70-year history, Turtle Wax has expanded its product line to include wash formulas, interior protectants, wheel and tire treatments, scratch remover, compounds, chrome and metal polish, headline restoration formula and bug & tar removers. For this post, we’re going to focus on its first product – from which they took their name – their line of automobile waxes.

Turtle Wax® Super Hard Shell Wax – This is Turtle Wax’s top-of-the-line protectant wax. It is available in both a liquid wax and a paste. Super Hard Shell adds a water-resistant coating that protects vehicle exteriors for the build-up of grime, while providing a high- gloss finished that lasts for up to 3 months with the liquid and 6 months with the paste. Both are relatively easy to apply and work best on the clear-coat painted areas of the vehicle.

Here’s what some of our readers who have used Super Hard Shell have to say about it:

“Turtle Wax® is in most every garage in America for a reason-it works and it’s cheap. One tub will go over three small or two large cars, shine will last all summer.” – Derek H.

“[Turtle Wax is] still the best. I’m one of those psychos who even polishes his John Deere tractor. Turtle Wax always does a great job protecting my car from grime and UV radiation. Forget the fancy designer waxes – this is the one to buy.” Hanz B.

Turtle Wax® Carnauba Cleaner Wax – For those car enthusiasts looking to sacrifice a little protection for the extra amount of shine, Turtle Wax’s Carnauba Cleaner Wax is exactly what you’re looking for. Available again in both liquid and paste form, Carnauba Cleaner Wax combines the power of the Turtle Wax cleaning formula with the shine of their wax to bring about the restored look of a vehicle right off the assembly line. The wax still provides UV protection and a water-resistant coating, but uses a carnauba-enriched formula to remove dead paint cells for the surface of vehicles. This product requires a little more time to apply and is slightly more difficult to buff off than the Super Hard Shell, but that is due to removal of the dead paint.

Here’s what some of our readers who have used Carnauba Cleaner Wax have to say about it:

“I chose this product mainly because of its price. I haven’t used any other wax before, but this wax produced great results. It came as a jello-y paste and with a nifty applicator pad that absorbs the wax so it applies it evenly on the surface. This won’t take out swirls, scratches, or shine up the paint if it was neglected for years and years. However, if this was used in the final step of a detailing job, it will protect your finish from the elements.” – James M.

“The shine is great. It took some work to buff it off with a towel by hand, but it was totally worth it.” – Jesse N.

Turtle Wax® 1-Step Wax & Dry – This is the quickest and easiest-to-apply wax in the line-up. It provides a nice shine and good protection at a fraction of the time required of Super Hard Shell or Carnauba Cleaner. The shine and water resistance lasts about 1-2 months (due to it being a less viscous, spray liquid) and basically only requires you to spray it on and then wipe it down, one section of the vehicle at a time, while the car is wet.

Here’s what some of our readers who have used 1-Step Wax & Dry have to say about it:

“I use this as a spray detailer. I have tried many other detailers but they don’t really compare to this. What makes this better to me is that, as a detailer, it wipes off easily and leaves no streaks or swirls. It actually can remove swirls. I use it right after I run my car through the wash to remove any water spots left and to touch up missed spots. I also use it in between washes as a touch-up. It’s a good way to help protect the paint in between waxing.” – Carroll D.

“This is a solid product to use in between washings (if you wash frequently), or to use as a light coat of wax after washing while your car is still wet, either way works great.” – Andrew K.

In addition to the three products that we featured today, Turtle Wax® also offers several other types of waxes. For more information, check out Turtle Wax’s website under the “Wax” drop down menu. Be sure to check back in the next couple of weeks for more reviews of Turtle Wax’s line of products.

If you’ve ever used any of these waxes, let us know what you think of them in the comments section below!  We value your comments and thoughts!

*image courtesy of ReneS on Flickr.com

Product Review: The Armor All® Interior Line of Products

Armor All

This post is the first in a new series of product reviews showcasing different lines of popular interior, exterior, and wheel & tire products available to automobile owners who want their vehicles looking their best.

Armor All® is one of the most trusted brands of car-care products on the market today. Founded in 1972, the product line is specifically designed to clean, shine, and protect most interior and exterior automobile surfaces. For the first part of this series, we’re going to take a look at some of the interior products made by Armor All®.

Armor All® Original Protectant – As the first product produced by Armor All®, the formula hasn’t changed much from the original protectant (40 years ago), but was recently improved to increase UV protection due to the increasingly stronger effects of the sun. This product is designed to prevent cracking, fading, discoloration, and premature aging, while revitalizing older vinyl, rubber and plastic found in the interior of cars.

Check out what our readers are saying about Armor All® Original Protectant:

“Armor-All® is a miracle worker for tired, dried, old upholstery. It cleans, seals, protects, covers scratches, and makes leather and vinyl look new again. I’ve been using it since the early 1980s, and highly recommend it. I use it on the seats, dash, inner doors, and even on the tire sidewalls. I’ve also used it on leather and vinyl purses, an office chair, and leather book covers.” – Lisa K.

“If you liked the old Armor All®, you’ll like this one better. The original formula was too runny. This one is a little more viscous so it doesn’t just flow like water when you spray it on something. I use it for the interior of my car and it leaves a nice shine that lasts. Can’t go wrong with this. Love the results.” – Paul G.

Armor All® Protectant Gel – A different take on the original, Armor All®’s Protectant Gel provides all of the same restorative and protective qualities as the Original Protectant, but adds even more UV protection for areas constantly exposed to the elements – such as those in convertible vehicles. In addition, the gel provides a little more application control than the spray for more confined spaces.

Check out what our readers are saying about Armor All® Protectant Gel:

“This stuff is fantastic and much more concentrated than the regular spray bottles. I used it for years to maintain my 10 year old car and it drastically slowed the bleaching of plastic on the outside of my car, as well as keeping the inside in excellent condition. If you have plastic or vinyl parts that have faded you will see an immediate difference when you use this product.” – Robert F.

“This is thick enough so it doesn’t run. It’s especially good for gaskets around car doors and windows. I use it to polish my stainless steel and leather accents in the interior of my new car.” – Jan M.

Armor All® Cleaning Wipes – For cleaning the interior surfaces of your vehicle, Armor All makes easy-to-use disposable wipes that provide a natural, matte finish to surfaces in preparation for applying the protectant products. The wipes won’t dry out, damage, or fade interior surfaces like some harsher household cleaners and provide a lint-free clean when finished.

Check out what our readers are saying about Armor All® Cleaning Wipes:

“These Armor All® Cleaning Wipes have made my life a lot simpler and have actually saved me a fortune. I keep a “can” of these things stashed in my car at all times and even have a reserve in my workroom. I have found that if I hit the dashboard, seats and other exposed areas each time I enter the car, then the time lapse between major cleanings is greatly extended. This stuff makes the dash, console, door parts, and seats shine like new. It does, as advertised, clean quite well and removes grime and dust almost instantly.” – Donald B.

“I like these wipes for cleaning the interior of my car. I use this “cleaning wipe” to clear off all of the dust and dirt that accumulates on the surfaces of my car’s interior, and then I use the protectant wipe: Armor All® Protectant Wipes to give it a shine. The combination works well and leaves the car looking clean for a decent amount of time. My only complaint about these is that they usually dry up before I get through the whole bottle of wipes. The cap isn’t the tightest closing lid I’ve ever seen.” Rick T.

In addition to the products that we featured here, Armor All® also makes a line a air fresheners, leather-specific care products and glass cleaners. For more information, check out Armor All®’s website.

Have you ever used any of these Armor All® products? Let us know what you think of them in the comments section below!

*images courtesy of  dno1967b and lmnop88a on Flickr.com

What to Expect at Regular Service Intervals on Your Vehicle

regular service intervals

For most new vehicles, it’s recommended by manufacturers that routine services be performed at standard intervals, which occur at the following mileage marks: 15,000, 30,000, 45,000, and 60,000.  In this post, we’re going to give you a brief outline of what to expect and a checklist of areas for each milestone.

By its very nature, vehicle maintenance is a necessary evil, but by following the outlines and checklists below, you can easily keep track of your vehicle’s major maintenance items. Regular maintenance will ensure that your vehicle remains as problem-free as possible and help it to retain an appropriate resale value.

15,000-Mile Service

This will be your first major service and should come at about 15,000 miles, which typically occurs within or close to the first year anniversary of purchasing your vehicle. Given the young life of your car and its components, it’s a relatively basic procedure. Expect to have the engine oil and oil filter changed, along with the engine air filter and the in-cabin air filter. A new engine air filter will ensure optimal gas mileage and keep engine contaminants to a minimum, while a new in-cabin air filter will keep your car’s interior dust and contaminant free.

Wiper blades should also be inspected at this point, especially if winter is approaching, and replaced as needed. Understanding all of the items in your 15,000-mile service is important, because this process will be repeated at all major service intervals.

15,000-Mile Checklist:

  • Engine oil
  • Oil filter
  • Engine air filter
  • In-cabin air filter
  • Wiper blade replacement

30,000-Mile Service

In addition to the items replaced at your 15,000-mile service, a new fuel filter will be needed to keep your engine running smooth. Engine coolant will also be changed at this time to ensure that your car’s engine does not overheat, and power steering and transmission fluids should be flushed out and replaced. These fluids break down over time and lose their effectiveness; for the average commuter, these fluids will have been in use for roughly two years. This service should be repeated every 30,000 miles to keep your car in good health.

30,000-Mile Checklist

  • Engine oil
  • Oil filter
  • Engine air filter
  • In-cabin air filter
  • Wiper blade replacement
  • Fuel filter
  • Power steering fluid
  • Transmission fluid
  • Engine coolant

45,000-Mile Service

Your vehicle’s 45,000-mile service will include its commonly changed maintenance items (such as an oil and oil filter change), but will additionally focus on the service of the car’s ignition system. Spark plugs are key engine components that need to be replaced after three years or 45,000 miles. Worn-out spark plugs can cause misfires and dead cylinders, which seriously harm the performance and lifespan of an engine. A new ignition management system, which runs the spark plugs, should also be fitted to ensure that the entire ignition system is functioning normally.

Brake fluid should also be changed after 45,000 miles or three years, as it absorbs water over time and thickens, losing its efficiency. Brake pads need to be checked and replaced as needed, especially for drivers who spend a significant amount of time in stop-and-go traffic. This service should be repeated every 45,000 miles to ensure maximum engine health and brake use.

45,000-Mile Checklist

  • Engine oil
  • Oil filter
  • Engine air filter
  • In-cabin air filter
  • Wiper blade replacement
  • Spark plugs
  • Distributor cap
  • Brake fluid
  • Inspect brake pads/replace if necessary

60,000-Mile Service

At 60,000 miles, the 30,000-mile service should be repeated with one additional replacement – the timing belt. The timing belt runs critical internal engine components (specifically cams and valves) and can cause serious damage to the engine if it breaks, so be careful not to overlook this easy-to-miss item. Due to its age and constant use, the car’s battery will probably be losing its charge by now and should also be replaced to avoid future start-up troubles. Repeat this service every 60,000 miles, and at 75,000 miles, repeat your initial 15,000-mile service.

60,000-Mile Checklist

  • Engine oil
  • Oil filter
  • Engine air filter
  • In-cabin air filter
  • Wiper blade replacement
  • Fuel filter
  • Power steering fluid
  • Transmission fluid
  • Engine coolant
  • Timing belt
  • Battery

Whether you decide to have your vehicle serviced with the dealership service center or at a local repair shop, the important thing to remember is that each milestone service must be done to ensure your vehicle is running its best.

Let us know what you think or if you have any questions in the section below. We always appreciate your feedback!

image: osunick on Flickr.com

Advantages of Servicing Your Vehicle with Your Local Repair Shop

local repair shop

In our last post, we talked about the advantages of servicing your vehicle at the dealership service center. In this post we’re going to cover the flip side of the coin – servicing with your local repair shop. Just as there were advantages to working with the dealership where you bought the vehicle, there are also advantages to shopping around or working with a local repair shop that you know and trust. One of the biggest advantages of servicing your vehicle with a local repair shop is that a level of trust may already exist!

Chances are, the vehicle in need of service is not your first and over the course of your vehicle ownership history, you probably have had to seek service that was outside of a dealership. If you already have a mechanic that you know and trust, it may be to your advantage to continue have your vehicle serviced at that shop. Aside from the obvious factors of knowing you can accept their diagnostics and evaluations, there is also the possibility of loyalty discount programs offered by repair shop. With the economy being what it is, more and more local business are rewarding repeat and loyal customers who continue to solicit their services.

Along those same lines, more and more business are turning to Groupon, LivingSocial and other retail-incentive websites to attract customers to them and, as a customer (loyal or otherwise) you can also take advantage of those deals. Most dealerships are not in the habit of discounting their services to the general public.

Another advantage of local repairs shops is the “local” part. Repair shops are often more conveniently located than dealerships. There may be dozens of small shops to choose from between your home and the dealership. If the repair or service that you need isn’t major, it’s a lot more convenient to drive a short way to your neighborhood repair shop than it is to go to the dealership, especially if you need to leave your car for repairs.

Plus, if your vehicle does need repair, there is a good chance that you will have a variety of parts options to choose from, whereas dealerships only offer customers original equipment parts for repairs. In most cases parts will have to be ordered, so the local repair shop fulfillment department spends extra time looking around for the best price and most practical parts to cover the repair.

For performance-oriented car owners looking to do aftermarket work to their vehicles, local repair shops provide a unique advantage in that some of them will modify your vehicle to your specifications and install parts that you purchased on your own. Most dealerships will not risk installing aftermarket products that are not backed by the manufacturer, simply because they need to cover themselves in case of potential damage or injury as a result of installing the aftermarket part.

Finally, labor costs for local repair shops tend to run on the cheaper side since most mechanics at dealerships have had specialized training. That specialized training is provided by the manufacturer and is often very expensive and that expense is usually passed on to the consumers in the cost of labor. In fact, it could run you $15-$20 per hour more than at a local shop.

Well, there you have it – we’ve given you both sides of the coin in regard to servicing your vehicle. The choice is really up to you, as the vehicle owner, how and where you have the vehicle serviced.

Have you used the same mechanic for all of your vehicle repairs? Have some past experience, positive or negative, about dealing with a local repair shop? Let us know in the comments section below. We love to hear your feedback!

*image: Somar International Ltd. on Flickr.com

Busting the 3,000 Mile Myth, Part 2

motor oil change

In our last blog, we talked about how quick-service lube centers and some dealership service departments have perpetuated a myth regarding the necessity of oil changes every 3,000 miles. In this second of two parts, we’ll talk about the how and the why of motor oil advancement, as well as give you some recommendations on how to know when to service your vehicle.

While the car-servicing industry relies on the 3,000-mile oil change to keep service bays filled and money coming in, customers tend to hold on to that myth because they’re largely unaware of advances in automotive technology. Among 2013 models, the majority of automakers call for oil changes at either 7,500 or 10,000 miles based on a normal service schedule, which turns out to be more than double the traditional 3,000-mile interval.

According to an online survey, the longest recommended oil change interval is 15,000 miles for all Jaguar vehicles. The shortest recommended oil change interval is 5,000 miles for some Hyundai and Kia models with turbo engines and Toyota vehicles that require non-synthetic oil. Toyota has been shifting its fleet to 10,000-mile oil change intervals using synthetic oil.

In addition, synthetic motor oils such as Mobil 1 are stretching the length of oil change intervals, leaving the 3,000-mile mark in the dust. In fact, the company’s most advanced synthetic product, Mobil 1 Extended Performance, is guaranteed for 15,000 miles.

But how has technology changed oil, a natural by-product, or fossil fuels to allow for longer intervals? Well, today’s longer oil change intervals are due to:

  • Improved “robustness” of today’s oils, with the ability to protect engines from wear and heat and still deliver good fuel economy with low emissions.
  • More automakers using synthetic oil.
  • Tighter tolerances of modern engines.
  • The introduction of oil life monitoring systems, which notify the driver when an oil change is required and are based on the way the car is driven and the conditions it encounters. Sixteen of 34 auto manufacturers now use oil life monitoring systems in their 2013 models, including all three domestic automakers; that represents a majority of the vehicles sold in the U.S.

According to the California Integrated Waste Management Board, waste oil is a problem only made worse by too-frequent oil changes. The agency, which has campaigned against the 3,000-mile directive, reports that 153.5 million gallons of used oil is generated in California annually, but less than 60% of that is recycled. Oil experts and car manufacturers agree that less-frequent oil changes can help alleviate some of the excess waste.

So, where does this leave the driver who has been indoctrinated to the 3,000-mile oil change myth by years of exposure? The short answer is to consult your service manual to learn your car’s actual oil change schedule.  This could save you hundreds of dollars over the next few years, while still fully protecting your car and its warranty, and limiting the over-use and waste of a natural resource. If you happen to have a car with a built-in oil life monitoring system, respect it and follow its readings to determine your service schedule.

So, there you have it – the 3,000-mile myth has been busted and your eyes have been opened to the truth!  At the very least you learned a little something new to consider. Either way, let us know what your thoughts are in the comments section below! We always appreciate your feedback!

*image: oemebamo on Flickr

Busting the 3,000-Mile Myth, Part 1

3000 mile oil change

For years, drivers have been hearing the slogan, “Get an oil change every three months or 3,000 miles.” Then they find themselves driving to the local lube shop to get the oil changed just like clockwork. But, the reality of it is the requirement to change your vehicle’s oil every 3,000 miles is a myth. In this first of a two-part blog, we’re going to begin to dispel that myth to set the record straight.

Today, oil chemistry and engine technologies have advanced tremendously, but you’d never know it from the quick-change behavior of American car owners. The majority of automakers today will tell you that oil changes can be performed at either 7,500 or 10,000 miles, and some vehicles can even go as high as 15,000 miles between changes. Driven by consumerism, lube centers thrive on the 3,000-mile myth to bring in business day in and day out.  However, little consideration is given to car owners who are spending millions of dollars unnecessarily, which in turn creates more oil waste and drives up the prices of a depleting commodity.

This wasteful cycle continues largely because the automotive service industry, while fully aware of the technological advances, continues to preach the “3,000-mile gospel” as a way to keep the service bays busy. As a result, even the most economy-minded owners are dumping their engine oil twice as often as their service manuals recommend. Oil experts, mechanics, and automakers agree that the 3,000-mile oil change slogan is a myth that needs to be busted!

Not all of the blame for this over-servicing falls on the automotive service industry – part of it lies in our own insecurities about increasingly complicated engines that are all but inaccessible to the average driver. Under the hood of most modern cars is an engine practically encased in plastic and in some cases, the only thing you can easily access is the oil cap.

The 3,000-mile myth is also perpetuated by the quick-lube industry’s “convenient reminder” windshield sticker, which is nothing more than a highly effective marketing tactic that is used to get car owners into the service bay on a regular basis. Some service departments at dealerships are also guilty of incorrectly listing the mileage for the next oil change. Despite the owner’s manual recommending oil changes at the 5,000-mile or 10,000-mile interval, you still see recommendations for 3,000-mile oil changes. Because busy car owners seldom read their owner’s manuals, most have no idea of the actual oil change interval for their cars and blindly follow the windshield reminder sticker, whether it’s an accurate indicator of the need for an oil change or not.

Our oil-change addiction also comes from the erroneous argument that nearly all cars should be serviced under the schedule for driving under “severe” conditions found in the owner’s manual. On the contrary, the argument that most people drive under severe conditions is invalid. In fact, a number of automakers, including Ford and GM, offer substitute maintenance schedules for those who drive under everyday conditions. The truth of the matter is that the only ones who benefit from a 3,000-mile oil change schedule are the quick-lube outlets and dealership service departments.

In our next blog, we’ll discuss the hows and whys of motor oil and how to know when it’s right to get your oil changed.

Have you kept the 3,000-mile rule regimen to schedule service on your vehicle or have you been relying on the expertise of the manufacturer’s recommendations and making your own schedule? Let us know in the comments section below! Your input is very valuable to us!

*image: brownpau on flickr.com