Motorists Should Be Aware of the "Rules" if They are Playing the Car Game
According to the University of Michigan, 65% of a vehicle's depreciation occurs in the first 4.5 years. That study is dated, but time has not affected the concept, other than the fact that the average price of a vehicle is now $30,000 instead of $20,000.
It is not a coincidence that vehicle manufacturers have trained the consumer to trade, on average, every 4.5 years. The dealers make their maximum profit by giving the current owner the trade in value, aka the depreciated value and reselling the used vehicle at retail. So Rule #1 isif you like to get a new car every few years, do not buy, stick with leasing - it lowers your depreciation cost.
Another place where consumers hurt themselves is not understanding that the new car manufacturer and dealer are in the business of selling new vehicles, not repairing out-of warranty vehicles. They do not want consumers to keep the same car forever as this lowers their opportunity to profit. Independent repair shop owners want the opposite.. for the consumer to keep the vehicle forever. The above mentioned U of M study demonstrates that the longer you keep the vehicle, the less it costs per year to own. So if you are not lucky enough to afford to trade frequently, or prefer to spend your money on groceries or rent, the following rules are for you.
Free Maintenance is not free if you plan to own a car forever. It actually shortens the life of your car. If you don't believe that, search the internet for some very popular Asian and European models that are having substantial engine oil consumption, premature engine failure, and timing chain component failures. It is not uncommon for many factory specified services to be a few thousand miles AFTER the warranty runs out. Which is fine, if you trade it in the day that warranty does run out. If not, then it’s not such a good idea. The better plan is Rule #2, perform your regular services about twice as often as the Factory Specified Intervals, and Rule #3, ask your trusted aftermarket service provider for the short list of services not usually specified at all by the factory. For example, one of these services includes brake fluid service. This should be done every 2 years or 24,000 miles, is rarely listed which can cause premature Brake Caliper failure which will cost you around $300 vs. the small brake fluid service fee you would pay every two years. Also, on stability & traction controlled vehicles, linear valve failure can occur and cost as much as $3,500 if it is not routinely maintenance.
Most ethical, independent auto repair facilities, will attempt to create a customized maintenance plan for you, if you let them know what your plan is for keeping the vehicle. Always remember that “if it ain't broke, don't fix it”, is the polar opposite of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Studies have shown that it is 60% cheaper, on average, to perform preventive maintenance than to fix something after it breaks. So,Rule #4 is when your independent service provider recommends preventive maintenance, it is not an upsell, it is a professional recommendation intended to help you in the long run.
In my honest opinion, free maintenance was designed to help the factory lower its cost of warranty repairs by preventing non-factory service providers from sending the vehicle owner back to the dealer for warranty repairs. The idea of free maintenance makes consumers ultimately choose to go with dealer services rather than with an independent auto repair shop, thus leaving the vehicle owner with no other choice but to put their trust into the manufacturer. In doing so, they unknowingly allow thousands of dollars of warranty work to escape warranty, requiring them to pay for those repairs later.
Written by Bob Dupre | Founder & CEO of CARS of America, INC.