Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Dealer recommended service

I am faithful to having regular service on my Elantra, which has 45000 miles on it. My husband is telling me that it is not necessary to adhere to the dealer service schedule, especially since the next scheduled service will cost several hundred dollars. What should I do.

Use the schedule in the owner’s manual that came with the car for the type of service you use your car. For instance, if you do primarily short distance in-town driving, use the severe service schedule. If you do highway driving, you can use the regular schedule.

Ede: Your car has an owner’s manual that has all the necessary info what the manufacturer says you have to do to keep the car in top condition, and keep the warranty valid. Please read that first, preferably with your husband.

At 45,000 miles you will find that there are quite a number of things that have to be inspected at least, and some need to be replaced. You do not need to go to the dealer for these services, any competent garage (not a muffler or tire shop) can do these for less.

I don’t know what your Elantra needs, but if you owned a 2012 Mazda you would need to:

  1. Change oil and filter
  2. Change engine air filter
  3. Change fuel filter
  4. Change brake fluid
    5 Change cabin air filter.

In addition, a number of items need to be inspected, including the brakes.

Some of these items have to be done to keep the warranty valid.

Your husband may be right that the dealer will try to add all sorts of unneccessary things, but a typical 45,000 service can easily amount to $300 or so. The service on our Nissan came to over $400, but that included flushing the cooling system (radiator).

So, the first step is to identify what is needed from the owners manual and then sit down with your husband to agree on what actually NEEDS to be done. Then find a good garage to have the work done and keep your receipts. You can also ask the dealer what he would charge for the list from the owners manual.

Folks you read about who drive their cars reliably till 300,000+ miles do exactly, or more what their manuals say.

Good Luck!

If your husband does not have any mechanical aptitude then he is dead wrong. No one likes to spend money on a car; that’s a given. However, he is putting dollars in front of mechanical well being.
You may not be old enough to remember it but years ago Fram used to run a commercial on TV regarding oil changes and the gist was that failure to do so leads to problems later on. The tag line was:
“You can pay me now or you can pay me later”.

With some things, more frequent intervals than what either the factory or dealer recommends is a better option.
Automatic transmission fluid changes are an example with many car makers stating the fluid is lifetime or should be changed every 100k or more miles. That is not a good policy. It should be changed about every 30k.

The 45k list on the Elantra list an oil change and an assortment of inspections for various components.
You can have the oil change only done and skip the rest if so desired but the purpose of inspections is to try and head off minor problems before they become major ones.

I can understand your husband’s reluctance, however not getting the service doe will cost far more in the long run. Mechanical systems need to be properly maintained, otherwise they fail. A simple belt that’s too far overdue changing can break and destroy a good engine.

Allow me to suggest that rather than going to the dealer, you find a reputable local owner-operated shop to have the maintenance done. Independant shops are usually cheaper than dealers, and they’re just as capable of mainteining the car. Save your copies of the shop orders as proof that you’ve had the maintenance done, just in case you ever have to.

+1 Solid Advice^

The new car dealer service department often “recommends” far more services than the manufacturer specifies in the owner’s manual. The dealer may recommend fuel conditioners, decarbonization service, and other “extra” services never mentioned in the owner’s manual.

So get out the owner’s manual, and also get all your previous service records. Look at what the owner’s manual recommends for normal service items, and also look at the “severe” service items. Severe service is lots of short trips, so it you have a short commute and drive only a few miles per year you might fit the severe category.

Reject any and all dealer recommended services that are not part of the manufacturers listed items as per the owners manual. If you approach the service write up desk prepared you can say “no” to unneeded services. If you walk up and say just do the 45K service you can get taken to the cleaners.

There is one important exception, and that is regarding the automatic transmission fluid. If the owner’s manual says you have “lifetime” transmission fluid that never needs changing - disregard it. Your automatic transmission will need fluid changes, 5 years or 30K miles is my preference.