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Know When to Service your Car to Reduce the Maintenance Cost

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A  huge difference can result from the service your car needs to keep it wheeling and what the service provider at the dealership recommends.

You’re warming your car in the morning to get it ready for work when the sticker in the upper left corner of your windshield catches your eye. It says your car is due for routine maintenance.

With a closer look, you could see that your car was serviced three months ago and you’ve driven it only about 3,500 miles since the last oil change.

Suddenly, the specter of a failed engine or roadside breakdown broods in your mind.

Just to be safe, you ring the dealership to schedule an appointment.

Does this describe how you handle your car’s maintenance?

If yes, you’re probably pouring money down the drain.

Those little stickers, stuck there by your local oil change shop and dealership service division are only effective sales tools, they are not accurate reminders to service your car.

Check The Owner's Manual

Your car owner’s manual has one essential section: your car’s maintenance schedule by the manufacturer.

The maintenance schedule will tell you how often your car needs to be serviced and what needs to be done.

The schedule was designed by the engineers who built your car and not the guys at the dealership telling you to buy a transmission flush for some hundreds of dollars.

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Service Overview

When your car has less than 30,000 miles, little maintenance is needed to keep it rolling, mostly oil changes and tire rotations but as your car ages, more maintenance will be required.

Don’t forget that we’re talking about scheduled maintenance here, not repairs.

Most people service their car at the dealership where they bought it but as the car ages, they are likely to go to freelance mechanics or chain repair stores.

So there is a huge difference between the new car dealership’s service division and freelance mechanics.

Recommended Maintenance

Here’s a little secret that will save you a lot of money: The dealership’s service advisor, who is more of a salesman than a mechanic, may hand you a list of services recommended by the dealership.

If you compare this with what’s in your owner’s manual, you’ll notice the dealer is recommending a lot of extra stuff which is unnecessary.

If you take a closer look at the dealer’s list, you’ll see that most of the recommended stuff is likely to be fluid replacements, adjustments, and inspections.

That’s why you must take the time to read and understand your maintenance schedule.

You don’t even need to keep asking your dealership or mechanic when your car is due for service maintenance.

You can sign up here, be a registered member and use our online tool to check for the upcoming maintenance service of your car for free.

This free service utilizes the car’s VIN number and mileage for accurate suggestions.

The Smart Way To Service Your Car

Do these when setting up an appointment at a dealership:

Find your maintenance schedule

You can get this either from your owner’s manual or online by doing a Google search such as “2010 TOYOTA Corolla owners manual.” Make sure to photocopy or print out the schedule. You’ll see why below.

Schedule a Service Appointment

Ask for the service provider and tell them exactly what is needed. Don’t say, “I’m ready for my 30,000-mile service visit.” Just read what the owner’s manual says.

Be ready for the upsell

At the dealership, the service advisor may say, “You have 30,000 miles on your car.

Here’s what we recommend,” and hand you a sheet of services.

In this case, present the copy of the maintenance schedule, and hand it to the service advisor to see what the manual says you only need to do.

Handling Extra Recommendations

Your service advisor is likely to recommend some extra services after checking your car.

It could be a fluid change, brake job, or the replacement of some part you’ve never heard of.

If you have a good connection and trust your service advisor, you could just go ahead and have the work done.

However, if the issue is not safety-related, it’s not too much to let your service advisor know that you prefer to wait until your next visit

Set mileage system

An indicator light comes on every time a set of miles is reached and an oil change is needed. This varies among different car makers, but it is roughly every 5,000 miles. In some systems, the interval can be set. An onboard digital system analyzes how the car is being driven, and the light comes on when an oil change is required. 

The point is you don’t need to over-service your car or change the oil more frequently than is needed.

It will only turn out to hurt your automotive budget, so it doesn’t help you or your car.

Finally, don’t be deceived into buying a used car that was not well maintained by the previous owner(s).

All that glitters is not gold. Use our VIN check tool to pull up the maintenance history of a car before purchasing it.

Picture of Adewale Peter

Adewale Peter

Peter, a versatile writer specializing in automotive content, has thrived as Premium VIN's brand journalist. With over 8 years of experience, he has excelled in creating engaging, reader-centric content, including book formatting and making slides. He is very passionate about researching and curating inspiring and informative blogs and articles. He enjoys meeting individuals who have what it takes to challenge him to continuously improve and give his best.

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