Consumer File: 5 myths busted of regular auto maintenance
Does it seem like with every oil change, the shop strongly suggests you should also get X, Y and Z done? It’s called “upselling,” and Matt Hasara of Utah Valley University’s Automotive Technology program says it’s very common, and not just from the quick lube shops.
“If you’ve ever taken your car to a dealership, you’ll notice a couple weeks later you’ll get a text from the dealership and then another text saying, ‘You need this, and you need that,’” says Hasara.
Hasara says not all upsells are a bad thing, but there are some you can question.
YOU DON’T NEED AN AIR FILTER WITH EVERY OIL CHANGE
A service shop urging you to replace the car’s air filter with every oil change. That’s an extra $20 to $50. Hasara says many cars go 15,000 to 30,000 miles before they need a new filter. There are reasons to change one sooner.
“If you’re off in the off-road, across the dirt roads. If you live out in the desert a ways, the roads there can get nasty. Or, if you drive a bit like Mario Andretti,” he says.
OIL CAN GO PAST 3,000 MILES BETWEEN CHANGES
If the shop tells you to come back for the next oil change at 3,000, that’s likely overkill. Hasara says think 5,000 miles or more.
“With good quality filters, good quality oil, you can go to 8,000 [miles]. The lubricants now are just great,” he explains.
TRANSMISSION FLUSHES NOT ALWAYS NECESSARY
Another popular upsell is a transmission fluid flush. The service costs between $150 and $250, but unless you’re hard on your car, Hasara says 80,000 to 100,000 miles is a good point for a transmission flush. Some cars go even further.
“On a BMW, you can’t change the transmission fluid,” said Hasara. “It’s designed into its operational lifetime.”
If you’re hard on your car, taking it out on a lot of dirt roads, or you’re an aggressive driver, getting your transmission flushed every 50,000 to 60,000 miles is his recommendation.
DON’T NEED FREQUENT COOLANT CHANGES
Some shops urge coolant changes along with the oil. That’s another $100, usually.
Hasara says many cars can go 40,000 to a 100,000 thousand miles on the same coolant, in normal conditions. Just don’t go past your vehicle’s recommended interval.
“What happens is the corrosion inhibitors in the coolant wear out. So, some of the coolants might start to react with the motor’s aluminum or magnesium. So a coolant flush is a good thing, but certainly not with every oil change.”
CHECK YOUR OWNER’S MANUAL
Your best defense against the upsell is your owner’s manual. It tells how often you really need an oil change, air filter, transmission flush, you name it.
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