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by Eddie Carrara
The Dealership Recommended Services and Up-Sell; The dealership will have their list of recommended services, so the best way to avoid these traps is to know your manufacturer's recommended service schedule for your vehicle.
A dealer recommended service is something the dealership has created to generate more profits for the company; it's what they think you need based on their professional opinion. Some services are on the up and up, but some are downright scams and are just a waste of money. The best way to avoid being sold a service you don't need is to check your owner's manual under the manufacturer's recommended services.
In the owner's manual's maintenance section, you'll find a list of items your vehicle will need to be inspected or replaced. Some of the things are mileage-based, and others on time and driving conditions. Newer vehicles use maintenance minders built into the vehicle's maintenance message system to alert the driver when they are due for service.
The owner's manual will explain every message in the maintenance message system, so if you are uncertain of what the message means when the light illuminates on the dash, check the owner's manual, and if you're still unsure, call the dealership and ask them to explain it.
If the dealership is trying to sell you a service that you can't find in your owner's manual, it's a good possibility you don't need it. An excellent example of a dealership's recommended service is a fuel injector service. It's rare to see a fuel injector service fix a drivability problem, usually replacing a faulty fuel injector fixes the problem. In my opinion, a fuel injector service does nothing for your car's fuel mileage or its performance, so if it's not in the owner's manual, question why you need it.
I would be cautious of the dealership up-sell, some up-sells are legitimate, but other up-sells are just ways to scare you into buying more unnecessary work. Many dealerships are moving in the direction of automotive flushes like radiator, transmission, and brake fluid flushes. In some situations, a fluid flush is necessary, but not as regular maintenance. Most vehicles are drain and fill, just like your oil. I would never recommend an engine oil flush; it could cause significant damage to the engine.
If you stick to the maintenance schedule in your owner's manual, you'll be doing all the maintenance your car needs. Today's vehicles last much longer than the cars in the past with far less care. That's why dealerships are making up their own recommended services and maintenance schedules.
Vehicle maintenance costs have been reduced significantly in the past years. The prices today have been cut in half compared to the same vehicle built ten years ago. This reduction in maintenance cost hurts the service end of the dealership. Most manufacturers want to make their profits when you purchase the vehicle, not during ownership, that's why oil changes are now every 5k instead of 3k, and transmission fluid can last up to 100k before changing instead of 30k.
Low maintenance costs are a big selling point when you're car buying. It's great for sales but bad for the service department. That's why service departments are getting so creative with up-sells. The manufacturers have just about deleted the big maintenance schedules.
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