Control Costs on Automotive Maintenance

Lets start out with the owners manual and automotive maintenance. My owners manual threatens to void the warranty if I don’t perform the recommended services on time. Lets take a look at what’s recommended car maintenance.

In my manual for an 04 Blazer (yours may be different) it states for normal driving, an oil change is due every 3,000 miles or 3 months. Then you keep reading and it says for fleet vehicles oil changes are needed every 4,500 miles or 6 months. What are they talking about with fleet vehicles? I called the 800 number and asked for the official explanation, which is high mileage use or long trips equaling more than 12,000 miles a year would be considered fleet type use.

To me this is what normal driving is. So according to the manufacturer my vehicle should be serviced under the fleet automotive maintenance schedule. Everybody I know puts more then 9,000 miles a year on his or her automobile.

The national average for miles put on a single vehicle has risen from 10,000 miles in the 80’s to 15,000 miles a year in the 90’s and 18,000 miles annually for present day. So most of the nation should be on the fleet schedule along with me.

Save Money on Car Maintenance

I added up the price difference between the 2 schedules in my own personal owner’s manual. Over a 75,000-mile 5-year period the price difference or savings by going with the fleet schedule was around $500.00 dollars by increasing the distance between service intervals. Even more important then the money was that this means less visits for service. As we have learned every time you avoid a service appointment your avoiding scams and rip-offs overcharges and poorly done work. These items together are priceless over a five-year period.

2004 Chevrolet Blazer ZR2

What did the owners manual mean about voiding the warranty on my Blazer. I have seen this first hand. The manufacturer will “not” honor the warranty if the automobile was abused. Using the fleet schedule is not abuse.

it’s what’s recommended on my SUV. The dealer and manufacturer will have the burden of proof to claim neglect or abuse. In other words, you are innocent until proven guilty. This is very difficult and usually only happens under extreme neglect like when the engine oil looks like tar from lack of oil changes.

Now this is important I am not saying to not service your vehicle regularly. I am saying do services only when it is needed. Maintenance intervals listed in Owner’s manuals are different and specific for the car it applies to.

Study your manual and how it relates to your driving conditions and stick to what is really recommended. I was changing my own personal oil on my truck way too often. The point was driven home at my newest job. The government fleet I work for has 1,800 pieces of equipment. The cars and light trucks get their oil changed every 6 months or 4,500 miles.

Services are almost never late thanks to a high tech notification system that stops pumping fuel for that unit when it’s due. After a 5 year 100,000 mile in house study there were no engine failures in the entire fleet. To me this means 4,500 miles or 6 months is good for me also. On your vehicle I stress to study the owners manual to see what is best for you and your situation.

Why the Owner Manual is Hard to Read

Vehicle owner’s manuals are not user friendly in my opinion. The manufacturer might do this on purpose. A confused owner will most often put their trust in the dealer to guide them in needed automotive maintenance and repairs.

This is like putting the fox in charge of the hen house. The dealer will put you on the schedule with the most frequent service intervals and push you towards over servicing your vehicle. The scheduled maintenance section is usually toward the back of the manual.

I recommend reading this section four to five times or until it is completely understood. Do not be afraid to call the customer assistance line and ask questions.

The price for this little used information service was added to the price of the vehicle that you purchased. The customer assistance hot line is important to the manufacturer. Do to the fact they are trying to build brand loyalty and future sales by providing courteous friendly customer service.

Become an authority or expert on required maintenance of your specific vehicle. Know what is needed before you go in for auto service. When the service adviser starts up-selling services, you can shut him down with facts and knowledge. Sometimes the shops attitude about selling you services can make you feel like you’re not taking care of the automobile properly.

This happens to me when I am forced to take my vehicle to a dealership for warranty work. You can see the post on my blog about what happened when I went in for the 2009 Cadillac recall. I also have a related post about unfair shop supply charges and waste disposal fees.

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This next page has many more articles about protecting yourself from automotive scams and rip-offs. These are sample pages from my auto repair guide. This next link takes you to the Wikipedia website and opens in a new window. You can view the auto repair information then just close it out and your right back here. This page is all about automotive maintenance support from wikipedia. This link takes you to the homepage. You can learn more about me and this car questions website.