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!

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 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