I am sure you’ve heard million times that regular service of your vehicle saves your money in a long run. This is true, but not in a way many shops like to tell you. Its not number of flushes, replaced filters and completed brake jobs that saves your money. If you do two transmission flushes in 60 000 km instead of one or replacing spark plugs or brake pads twice more often – you won’t save any money, never. You won’t make your engine or a whole car last longer either. All you going to end up with is spending more money.
What does save money for you its a professional attention and honest advise.
Since I work in this industry and have considerable knowledge and skills I save a lot of money on my cars. It is not because I do more flushes, oil changes, replace filters, spark plugs or brake pads more often than other people. Actually I am rather conservative on this. I do oil change every 5000 km but this is only because oil change is so cheap and my income is reasonably OK, why not then. If times get harder I can extend it to 10 000 km knowing it is still perfectly good for the engine as I am using high quality oil (actually, the best one I can get). Service intervals are way longer in Europe, it was typical to see cars coming in for oil changes every 20 000 km but I wouldn’t say I’ve seen more engine failures or worn out engines when I have been working out there.
I save money because I do not replace parts sooner than they really needed but neither too late. I know that a bit of sweating oil at some seal is not an alarm – it is rather a reminder to pay attention to this spot in a future and replace it when it actually starts leaking, not sweating. I can buy that part in advance, probably for less and better quality then if I would look for it immediately. Cracks on CV joint boot rubber tell me to start looking for part, not to replace it right away. Brake pads at 3 mm thick will probably serve me for another 10 000 km or even more – why replace them right now? Although I know that I have to remember checking them more often – pay more attention. This is what saves me money without affecting reliability, safety, comfort and pleasure of ownership of my vehicle. As a matter of fact I am very particular to my vehicles and can’t stand when something is not working.
The same goes for my regular customer vehicles. I pay attention to them, I keep track of their service history, keep my inspection notes and advise customers on what makes more sense to do sooner and what can wait without doing much harm. All I ask in exchange is pay me for one, two or three extra hours per year depending on how much they are driving and how often they come for service. Because in my book regular service is more than just throwing in new oil and few filters. It is rather like yearly visit to your doctor even if you are not sick. It helps to stay healthy. Staying healthy is cheaper. I charge one hour more for service than others but I have time to pay attention: take vehicle for test drive, feel and listen to it, do a proper inspection trying to notice as many things as I can and do my notes. Later I can go through them, send an email to the customer with detailed advice and keep record for my future reference. Customer’s car becomes, in a way, one of my cars then, I remember it and take care about it.
There is nothing like this in a dealership or other bigger shop where you can’t develop that sort of connection with cars. Today you are working on it, few months later it’ll be another guy. Feel of care dissolves and goes away. If you take the same analogy it is like you going to a different doctor every time you feel seek or intend to do regular health check. I am happy to have a good doctor and I would be very upset if he goes away one day for some reason. Same comes to a car – if there is no personal care about it, there is not much care at all. Eventually this is exactly what results in big bills.