Monday, January 21, 2008

$892.35 for a 90K service!

$892.35 for a 90K service!
I don't like paying the repair shop close to a thousand dollars for preventive maintenance but in my experience that is a better choice than "have-to-fix-it-now" situations. My thoughts on car maintenance

- Trust: Yes, this is my biggest gripe with car repair shops. I always feel like I am getting ripped off. There is limited information on what service will be performed, I always get a phone call that adds a few more "urgent" repairs to the list and they always miss something.

It's better to stick with a shop where you have some level of trust and a promise of quality work, even if it costs you a little more. When I tried the $9.99 oil change at the "Cheap Oil Change Now" shop - I ended up paying $50.00 for addon repairs which had nothing to do with oil change.

- Written Estimate: Always, always insist on a written estimate. Make sure you understand what service the shop intends to perform and what repairs you have authorized. I have learned not to be shy or pressured when understanding the service details and cost.

- Hype: Don't fall for the hype. 3K oil change, winterize package, fall special - do I need all these packages? There is some value but a large dose of marketing included in these promotions. The car owners manual recommends oil change at every 7,500 miles so that is what I do - no issues so far. With regular maintenance I don't see the need for a winterize package. The best way to get beyond the hype is by looking under the covers - what service do you really need?

- Schedule: The cars of today are more complex but also smarter. They can self-diagnose problems, indicate issues and prompt you for maintenance checkups. To ensure a trouble free and long life for my car - I follow the maintenance schedule laid out by the manufacturer (not the dealer or repair shop).

My motto is - read the owners manual, keep up with the maintenance schedule and don't fall for the marketing.

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