Needed Maintenance or Up-sell Ripoff?
Lately, I have read multiple articles, and watched a few videos discussing auto repair shops' recommendations of maintenance services. Some of the "experts" in the publications I am referring to insinuate that factory-scheduled preventative maintenance is a ripoff, and that the shop is taking advantage of the customer for financial gain on services that are unnecessary. I can't say that all shops are honest and this issue doesn't occur, but I can say that honest shops do exist. I am the owner of 5-Star Auto Repair & Exhaust of Lexington - a small, family-owned, independent, auto repair facility. Our main focus with our customers is to be honest and educate them on what it takes to get the most out of their vehicle. I, like the authors of the aforementioned articles and videos, do not believe in the maintenance schedule set forth by the factory. Why, you ask? I feel that the "factory maintenance" is not thorough enough. This schedule is based on what is referred to as "normal" driving conditions (which do not exist) and lowest cost of ownership. They also advertise "lifetime" fluids in vehicles. That is misinformation. The "lifetime" to which they are referring is the warranty period of the car. See here for "normal" driving conditions. See Here for conditions Even manufacturers' "severe maintenance schedule" is lacking. If you take 2 different vehicles with the same transmission fluid on a long trip with identical conditions ( weather, terrain, driving habits, traffic, etc. ), does that fluid deteriorate less in one vehicle than another, considering that it's performing the same task?
At 5-Star, we recommend our own severe duty maintenance plan. Our plan was developed using our business partnership with BG Products, along with a mix of factory recommendations and visual inspections. Following this schedule allows qualifying customers to enroll in BG Products' lifetime protection plan. See here details
I would like to follow all this up by saying that I would not expect any of my customers to do anything that I wouldn't do. My wife and I both follow this plan and I use it for the company vehicles as well. I even go a little above and beyond with my personal truck.
The previous owner of my truck maintained it well; however, since purchasing it less than a year ago I have: changed the oil a few times (always using the performance kit and the Amsoil 15w40), changed the fluids in both differentials, changed the fluid in my transfer case, performed a brake fluid exchange, performed a power steering fluid exchange, and performed a transmission fluid exchange. Were all these fluids contaminated or "dirty?" No. Most were not. I did all this to prevent any issues. If I had waited until the fluid was dirty, it would no longer be preventative maintenance - it would be a repair. Fluid that is contaminated, burnt, or discolored is already causing damage to vital components.
Honestly, I don't expect my customers to go to the extreme with their vehicles by using Amsoil products and upgrading to extra capacity transmission pans or over-sized oil filters like I did.
I do, however, want people to understand that vehicles require maintenance to perform well and last a reasonable amount of time. With proper care, your car can go many miles without catastrophic failures and expensive repairs.