Updated: 11/2/2011 12:48 PM ET|
Secrets mechanics keep from you
If you're changing your oil every 3,000 miles and you can't remember the last time you looked at your owner's manual, you may be spending more than you need to.
Here's a secret that mechanics don't want you to know: You really don't need to have your oil changed every 3,000 miles.
It's a waste of a precious resource -- not to mention money -- to take your car in every 3,000 miles or three months, experts say. Most cars don't need an oil change for 7,500 miles.
"The oil change itself is a loss leader," said Austin Davis, whose family has been in the car-maintenance business in Houston since 1937.
"Most repair shops will lose money or at best break even on a $25 to $28 oil change," he said. "The whole idea is to get you to also buy an air filter, rotate your tires or buy something else while you're there."
Complaints about auto repairs consistently rank among the top grievances filed to state attorneys general, according to the National Association of Attorneys General.
Because car manufacturing has become so sophisticated and less reliant on human intervention -- more computers and technology are producing and installing parts, for example -- the car-repair business isn't as robust as it was 10 or even five years ago.
"The easiest way to make up for money that you're losing or to increase profits is to turn up the upsell button on all your services," said Philip Reed, the senior consumer-advice editor for Edmunds.com. "Mechanics want you to get brake jobs earlier than you need them or change oil filters more frequently."
Sometimes, however, we are our worst enemies when it comes to explaining what is wrong with the car and giving away too much information. "Never reveal your budget," said Davis. "If there's steam pouring out of the hood of your Mercedes, don't tell the guy 'I hope this isn't going to cost me $2,000.'
"He'll be thinking, 'How about $1,995,'" he said.
There are no hard-and-fast rules about maintaining cars because there are so many differences in make, model, use and other factors. But experts do agree on this: You should use your car manual as your guide. It will tell you at what mileage mark the oil should be changed or the transmission fluid flushed, what intervals maintenance should follow and a host of other upkeep tips.
"If there's a conflict between what the owner's manual recommends and what the dealer recommends, follow the owner's manual," said Reed. "The manufacturer made the car; they should know what it takes to maintain it and keep it running."
Pay attention to the warranty packages. Cars known for dependability will guarantee parts for as many as 70,000 miles. That's almost the equivalent of driving around the earth three times.
"Cars today are just so well made that the failure rates of parts is close to nil," Davis said.
But long before you need to turn the keys over to a mechanic, find one who is trustworthy and with whom you can build a long-lasting relationship.
"If you develop a relationship with your mechanic, you're much less likely to be ripped off," said Brandy Schaffels, the content manager for the TrueCar website. "They'll go out of their way to help you." She had a mechanic who built an air-conditioner compressor by hand at a substantial savings over buying a new one.
"If your instinct tells you that what they're telling you doesn't sound right, double-check it with another mechanic," she said.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
Mr. Reed from Edmonds.com has NO idea what he is talking about when he writes....
"Probably the most common cause of the check-engine light is that the gas cap is not on tight enough," Reed said. The sensor has responded to the extra oxygen going through the gas line and it will go off once the cap has been tightened or the entire tank has been used.
People please disregard his lack of knowledge on a vehicles EVAP system. A loose or missing gas cap triggers the check engine light because of pressure lose in the tank, NOT because of extra oxygen in the gas lines.
""Probably the most common cause of the check-engine light is that the gas cap is not on tight enough," Reed said. The sensor has responded to the extra oxygen going through the gas line and it will go off once the cap has been tightened or the entire tank has been used."
So wrong it is not even funny... this right here is a huge red flag to ignore everything else wrote, if your gas cap is lose, the light is coming on because of a lack of vacuum when running the evap system test. It has not one thing to do with the fuel line, the light will also not go off once all the fuel is used... has to be one of the dumbest things I have ever read.
I'm a mechanic and the only reason the manufacturers recommened a 7500 mile service is to keep the service cost low to appeal to JD Powers ratings, all they are worried about is the car
making it out of warranty, I change my oil every 3000 miles, it's cheap insurance.
First, I would like to state my credentials. Not as a matter of ego but as a matter of credibility. My successful, professional automotive experience is greater than twenty-five years including positions as a Mercedes Benz Technician, BMW Technician, Technical Specialist/Trainer for BMW North America/UTI, and currently Service Manager for a Lexus dealer. I am ASE Master Certified as well as being Certified by several European and Japanese Automotive companies.
This article was anything but well researched or well written. It appears to be the usual stereotypical industry demonizing script over flowing with misinformation. Unfortunately, dishonest folk work in every business and industry in existence.
The statement the author made," The check-engine light is a sensor that is telling you that something is amiss in the car." is definitively WRONG! Go to any parts department and try to purchase a "Check Engine Light Sensor". You can not! Because it does not exist.
But it gets better. Here's the next problem with the information in this article.
" Reed said. The sensor has responded to the extra oxygen going through the gas line and it will go off once the cap has been tightened or the entire tank has been used."
That my friends is pure speak from the vertical line in between the two hills of someone's backside. Did the author ever consider consulting a industry professional? If one attempts to provide information to "help their fellow man" then do so in a virtuous and professional form.
Keep sludging your engines so I can replace them $$. 3k for good conventional and 5k for synthetic oil. Why do people not have time to think? Tires can cost $1000 on a good car and rotating them often only makes them ride better longer. You will have to spend money on your car. Do you wait until there is a turd in your underwear before you change it? This article is crazy. Everyone's an expert. Waters,Reed, and Davis? Who are these people? They are writers and editors. I have to go see my dentist to get my prostate checked and my gardener is doing my taxes. Buy my book and subscribe to my website. Send me your money and I will tell you how to deal with dishonest people because I know them and they are me. Anyone who has a dishonest perspective either is or has a friend who is and I don't trust them. There are a lot of good mechanics out there. Find one.
I've owned my own shop for 23 years and this is just another incompetent article. What I'm wondering is this. When a mechanic is found to be incompetent he is fired. When will that happen for people that write an article as full of flaws as this? Or the person in charge of allowing it to appear on the front page of a website? When will someone write an article titled "what your freelance writer doesn't want you to know"? I think number 1 on the list will be that he wrote the article at home after drinking a bottle of cheap whiskey because he was depressed from looking at his stack of bills and need to make a quick buck so decided to jump on the "all mechanics are scoundrels" band wagon. How many wealthy auto mechanics does anyone know anyway? If we are so good at ripping off the poor innocent consumer then where is all the money?
One other thing about these articles. What we sell is our time. If a customer has some questions that's fine. We should educate them about their vehicle and guide them so it will last a long time with as little repairs and maintenance as possible but...now people read articles like this and I find myself having to defend things that I do against some baseless accusation started by self described experts on the internet. It's a business and if I have to spend a half an hour debating something back and forth because they can't come to grasp with the fact that everything on the internet isn't correct then they have to pay for my time. If you are ok with that then bring it on. I've been explaining and defending everything I do for 3 decades and I accept responsibility for every repair and am also aware of the liabilities. In our state a consumer can be awarded treble damages. So what about you writers and MSN? Are you ready to accept the same level of culpability as we are? If not then you aren't even in our league to begin with. You should research the ariticles you write and print as much and as well as we research the repairs your vehicle needs.
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