So you have been driving your car around for a few months now, enjoying motoring in and out of the city. You have taken the significant other to dinner dates without having to hail a cab, or have gone out of town with the crew stopping at all the touristy spots along the way. There’s a certain sense of achievement when bathroom stops are no longer at the mercy of bus drivers. Everything is well in the world until one day, you notice a little spanner icon on your dashboard. No, this is not your car calling you a tool for being too proud. It’s a gentle, albeit annoying, reminder that it’s time for your Preventive Maintenance Schedule (PMS).
All motorists dread this day because of one thing: costs. After spending your savings on a down payment and paying a decent amount every month, it only makes sense that everything is done to protect your investment. Thing is, we’ve all heard of horror stories of how expensive a seemingly simple operation is.
Protection from Defects
This is far by the most expensive way to maintain your brand new road trip machine. But, before you decide to save your pesos by racking up more miles and ignoring the warning, consider what you might be giving up. Bringing your car back to the dealership for a regular service has one advantage that might be worth spending the extra pesos. It isn’t expert service; I can’t imagine that an oil and filter change would require information only available to dealership technicians. Nor is it original parts; original maintenance items can be bought with discounts from importers if you know where to look. Maybe it’s customer service? Not really, imagine being just one of many customers in huge dealerships. (I once had to wait 9 hours for a service) The most important advantage that maintenance with dealerships have is warranty.
Once a vehicle goes over the recommended schedule or is serviced by anyone else aside from the dealer, they will automatically void the warranty. This means that if any defect pops up while you’re driving along, they may no longer fix or replace the broken parts free of charge. The only time dealerships lose this leverage is when your car has passed its warranty period which is a set distance traveled or the vehicle’s age decided by a manufacturer. For newer car owners, there is certainly a risk involved if a vehicle isn’t serviced or is serviced elsewhere. Is saving a few thousands for oil changes worth losing the peace of mind warranty provides?
Choose your Lube
Say you make the responsible decision and bring your car in for a service, one choice that the service adviser will volunteer (perhaps the only choice they will volunteer), would be the kind of engine oil you’d like them to use. Options are often Mineral, Semi Synthetic, or Fully-synthetic with mineral being the least expensive and fully-synthetic the premium choice. Since cars may take anywhere between 5-7 Liters of oil, the difference between the oils definitely adds up.
Because we’ve taken the effort to make it back to the dealership, it makes sense to want the best protection for your investment. But, because budget is still a consideration, it might be tempting to get the best of both worlds by making the mediocre choice of semi-synthetic oil. You could never be more wrong.
Because it is of better quality, some dealerships allow you to run fully synthetic oil twice longer than the other two options. That means, at your next PMS (yes you still have to go), technicians won’t have to drain your oil, instead they’ll top up whatever oil is missing from your engine. During this visit instead of buying 5-7L of oil, all you’ll need to spend for is one liter. If you’re a pack-rat like me, you could even make them use whatever oil you have left from your previous PMS to top your oil up. Since oil is one of the bigger costs during a service, that’s savings in your pocket!
Aside from oil, the high cost of maintenance comes from the premium service and parts we expect from the dealerships. However, what tips the costs over the edge, towards irrationality, are the additional service and items they “recommend” whenever a car is brought in for service. Here’s another opportunity to save some precious pesos.
Not all recommended services are required to keep your car running smoothly and, more importantly to some, warranty coverage. While some items may actually help prolong the lifespan of your car and maintain performance, some services dealerships offer are unnecessary. It would be best to review the quotation offered by the service adviser and decide if a product or service they are recommending is worth spending on.
Once you know exactly what to expect on a service, visits get that a little less daunting. While keeping your car maintained at the dealership may still take a chunk out of the date budget, knowing what to spend on and what not to spend on can save you the extra coin. Having your pride and joy regularly maintained buys you the peace of mind that you can keep chugging along with the crew and keep the fear of road side worries away.