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Dealership or private mechanic?

My 2009 Honda Fit is up for its 60,000 mile maintenance (fluids, etc) but Honda wants $500 for it! They say I need to use only their fluids or I’ll destroy my engine. Is that true or can I have my mechanic do it?

Honda’s are picky about automatic transmission fluid. The rest just have a independent use what whatever that meets spec.

Which fluids? Oil can be any 5w-20 oil. If it’s an automatic, Honda says that only Honda automatic transmission fluid should be used. Additionally, if you are due for coolant change, honda also says to only use honda coolant, though 2-3 years seems a bit soon. And because you might be at 3 years, depending on when you bought the car, honda does say to use honda brake fluid. Which codes showed up on the MM?

All that said, you can purchase the honda fluids either online or at the dealer and have a different mechanic use them for some cost savings.

Our Acura dealer pretty much uses Mobil oil for oil changes. Trans fluid must be Honda and its not cheap. Think I paid $7 a quart. Power steering fluid needs to meet their specs, and coolant also should be Honda or meet their spec. There are so many coolants types available though its best to go with Honda. You can have the service done anywhere but you need to insist on the Honda stuff or bring it with you. Don’t know if you’ll save much though depending on what they are talking about. If you wait until their specials come out, its not too bad. When we got our Acura, I just designated a new shelf for all the Honda stuff. Got a good discount on the initial supply.

You would probably save if you look at what is needed at 60K mile and price it separately. When they patch it up together as “60K mile service” they add a wedding gown price to it.

I have an '93 Civic and I have independant shops do maintenance and repairs. I do buy the Honda brand coolant, and transmission fluids. I just get them from a Honda dealer and have them in the car when I take it to the shop. The shop deletes their charges for fluids on the bill and it comes out just about even.

Motor oil and brake fluid I’ll let the shop use materials from their stock. If I had a CRV I’d also use Honda fluids in the differentials.

Generally the dealer will use the proper materials and will do the job right, but, not always. Likewise with an independent mechanic, but the independent might be less inclined to do so.

Carefully read the owner’s manual. Look out for the words MUST USE or Recommend.

If the manufacturer says to use XYZ, you are a fool not to.

Anyone can do it, but you need to follow any instructions related to the fluids in your owner’s manual. The easy way to go is to buy the Honda fluids and bring them to your mechanic if he can’t easily get them.

Just to double-check, you’re doing the maintenance items listed in your owner’s manual and not anything extra added by the dealer, right?

“My 2009 Honda Fit is up for its 60,000 mile maintenance (fluids, etc) but Honda wants $500 for it!”

That’s only half of the story. What ($$$) do others want to perform the same service (using Honda specific fluids where required) ?

Cars cost money to buy, drive, and properly maintain. If this only comes along every 60,000 miles or so and the difference in dollars isn’t very great, it would behoove you to have the dealer take care of it. Otherwise, you may be “penny wise and pound foolish”. It’s a good idea to budget for regular maintenance.

Dealers are not always the evil places that some folks make them out to be.

Annie, put the whole list of 60,000 mile maintenance items up here and we can advise which things that you could let the dealer do and which things an independent should be able to take care of for you.


FWIW, the fit manual doesn’t list a 60,000 mile service. It exclusively uses an automated milage counter that pops up codes to tell you what needs servicing. That said, I believe the transmission wants a drain and refill roughly every 30k. And if it’s 3 years old, then the brake fluid needs replacing. But knowing the code from the MM and what the dealer wants to do are key toknowing if there’s a price inflation.

Cars require maintenance. This one is going on 3 years old so frankly $500 isn’t a lot. So I don’t know what the “!” is about unless you’re saying “wow! Only $500 for a 60K mile service from a dealer!”

That said, as others have noted, chances are that what they want to do is a mix of necessary and non-necessary things. So put out the details.

I used Honda dealerships for all maintenance until all of the warranties (including the drivetrain warranty), expired. I was able to find dealerships in my area with reasonable prices, and it meant I didn’t have to save my maintenance records to maintain my warranty. After all of my warranties expired, I stopped going to dealerships.

Honestly, $500 for the 60,000 mile maintenance doesn’t sound too bad. The 30,000 mile maintenance should be about $300-350, but they do a lot more at 60,000 miles than they do at 30,000 miles.

The line about Honda’s fluids is just fear-mongering. You should use Honda’s automatic transmission fluid, but for everything else, it’s pretty easy to find fluids that meet Honda’s specifications. Your independent mechanic can use Honda’s fluids too, especially if you find a mechanic will let you buy the fluids at a Honda dealership and bring them to the garage.

My 1998 Honda Civic has 207,000 miles on the odometer. I haven’t used Honda brand fluids in it in the last 100,000 miles. I use this power steering fluid and I use this oil in my manual transmission . However, if you have an automatic transmission, I would use whichever one of these is appropriate .

A 60k miles service is a major one and the price is not out of line. Note the following.

Prices vary by locale and the above is for my area which generally has a lower cost of living as compared to the east and west coasts, etc.

I would also note that the price shown is meant to be a guideline only and to be honest, some of that is ludicrously underpriced. An example would be a 2.25 cent valve lash inspection. I could not even begin to venture a guess as to how they came up with that one.

You can use an independent mechanic with no problem and odds are the cost will be less but make sure they use the right fluids.

The transmission fluid should be Honda ATF-Z1, but anyone can buy it at a Honda dealer parts department. You could use Honda brake fluid to make it easy, or use a synthetic hydrocarbon brake fluid with a very high boiling point. I use Valvoline DOT 3 & 4 synthetic fluid. Do not use a silicone synthetic fluid. BTW, I have a 2005 Accord. If you don’t know a good independent mechanic, you might continue with the dealer if you like them.

I think the Honda dealer is padding the bill for this 60K service with lots of frivolous stuff. Honda specs for changing coolant is about 100K miles or 7 years, 3 years for brake fluid, 100K for spark plugs, etc. I think about all this car needs is a transmission fluid change which should be done with Honda brand fluid. $500 is excessive. You can change the air filter yourself and the cabin air filter (if the Fit has one) should be located behind the glove box and not a biggie to change.

Since I have to respectfully disagree with Uncle Turbo about this I have to ask.
Can you break that 500 dollars down and show me how it’s excessive and what is not needed?

Well, that edmunds list looks wrong to me as well. The neither the service manual nor the owners manual for the fit list exact milage changes, but as mentioned, the spark plugs are long life 100k service interval ones, the coolant is 100k before first change,etc. The only thing on the fit that should be done around 60k is transmission fluid drain and fill (or multiple drain and fills if you’re bothered by the amount that doesn’t drain) and brake fluid change assuming the car was purchased in 2008.

Obviously other stuff might be needed like the serpentine belt might be worn, but that wasn’t mentioned as something the dealer wanted to do.

So, the car should need oil + filter, transmission drain and fill, and possibly brake fluid changed. I dunno if that comes to a full $500.

I can’t break anything down as the OP didn’t list the services that go into the $500 60K service. Based on my '03 Civic, the OP needs to change some filters, and even though Honda doesn’t require it, a trans fluid change for the auto trans is a good idea. Coolant has years to go, brake fluid is a year off, and plugs, the timing belt (if it has one) are all over 100K miles intervals.

FYI, the fit asks for transmission fluid changes every 30k (or so I’ve been led to believe). Of course, the ATF change is no more complicated than an oil change. And it uses a timing chain, so no belt changes, unless the accessory belt is wearing.

The shop flat rate charges easily run 125 dollars an hour in certain parts of the country.
East and west coasts, NE. etc)
A 60k miles service is a major one on any vehicle and if one figured 2.5 hours on that service that puts the tab at over 300 dollars just on labor and excluding fluids/filters/etc.

What the factory recommends and what is often really needed are 2 separate things. All car makers want to promote the perception their vehicles need little maintenance and they started this trend roughly back in the mid 80s to a somewhat minor degree and by the 90s it was becoming a full blown program.
The factory boys are also the ones who apparently can make a recommendation about an “audible valve lash” inspection without being even being embarassed over it. The stupidity of that particular recommendation just amazes, or stupefies, me every time I hear it or read of it.

I think it’s a bit premature to say the dealer is ripping anyone off without knowing one thing about what that 500 dollars entails or the locale where the service is to be done.