Over the years, many customers have admitted to me that the aspect of car ownership they like the least is maintenance and repairs.
To be specific, they dislike spending their hard-earned dollars on maintenance and repairs.
That’s fair, considering the other costs associated with vehicle ownership (loan payments, borrowing costs, gas, road tolls, parking, insurance, etc.).
Although most would acknowledge that maintenance is a necessary and important part of vehicle ownership, there are still popular misconceptions floating around. Here are a few:
1. You can get an accurate quote on repairs over the phone or via email.
Absolutely false. Getting an accurate diagnosis over the phone or via email is next to impossible. A service advisor or technician needs to examine a vehicle in person in order to understand the issue and provide an accurate quote. There are no shortcuts.
Be wary of any shop that is prepared to diagnose a problem and give you a quote without inspecting your vehicle in person.
2. Onboard computer diagnostics can determine what’s wrong with your car.
Wrong. The self-diagnostic system in your car can help to find a fault, but it’s not foolproof. A certified automotive technician with professional training and expertise, using advanced diagnostic equipment, is the most qualified individual to find out what’s wrong with your car.
3. Manufacturers recommend maintenance schedules so dealers can make more money.
No. Manufacturers are designing and producing cars that last longer and require less overall maintenance than vehicles produced in previous generations. But all vehicles require some preventative maintenance to perform safely, reliably and efficiently, and to retain their value.
4. Leased vehicles don’t require regular maintenance.
Not true. Standard lease agreements stipulate that the lessee must follow a scheduled maintenance plan as recommended by the manufacturer, among other ownership obligations.
Lessees sometimes think that because they don’t technically own their vehicle, they aren’t responsible for its care and maintenance.
In fact, the lessee is responsible for returning their vehicle in reasonable condition, and will have to pay for any damage, repairs and excessive wear and tear resulting from negligence.
5. Oil must be changed every 5,000 km.
No. This is a popular myth that has been around forever. Many motorists probably change their oil more frequently than they need to. Most automakers revised the 5,000-km recommendation years ago and now recommend changing the oil every 8,000 to 12,000 km. For accurate recommendations, check your owner’s manual.
6. All repair shops are the same.
Not so. The benefit in choosing a new-car dealership to perform scheduled maintenance and repairs are many.
Dealerships employ technicians who are trained by the manufacturer in diagnosing and making repairs to a specific brand. These technicians know your make and model better than anyone.
Plus, dealers invest heavily in the latest diagnostic tools and equipment, and receive the latest repair specs and programs from the manufacturer.
Independent shops have access to this information as well, although many choose to offer less-specialized services such as tune-ups, tire balancing, wheel alignments and oil changes.
It’s also worth noting that only franchised new-car dealerships are permitted to perform warranty repairs.
7. Premium fuel performs better than regular fuel.
A fallacy. Years ago, motorists would fill their tanks with premium gas because it contained detergents and additives meant to decrease carbon deposits.
But new government regulations mean that all grades of gas now contain these additives, so both regular and premium gas are on an equal footing.
Experts say that regular gas can run on most cars without issue and won’t damage the engine.
This column represents the views of TADA. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit tada.ca. Benny Leung, president of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association, is a new-car dealer in the GTA.
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