Maintenance Schedules

Should I have the MDX vehicle serviced as outlined in the owner’s manual? This is the male versus female problem.

My husband believes the schedules in the owner’s manual are “make-work” projects for the dealer service department. On the other hand, I like preventive maintenance although it can be very expensive. Oil changes not a problem -we do those but what about the differential fluid, the radiator flush, etc ? Years ago, these changes and flushes introduced more problems than prevented them.

Any advice would be appreciated. We own a 2003 Acura MDX with 70K miles.

The manual is written by the manufacturer and is what they prescribe at to have a long life of vehicle. Dealers tend to extrapolate and expand the manual schedule is there is to “make work” belief is likely coming from.

If you follow manual your car will last a very long time. If not it can lead to very expensive failures (eg transmission, cooling system) that will exceed the cost of the maintenance involved. Also it can make for frustration later down the road when break downs occur, most of which are preventable by maintenance.

Follow the manufacturer’s service schedule as outlined in the manual (the manufacturer’s service schedule, NOT the dealer’s). It’s not so much a male versus female problem as it is smart versus dumb. The dealer will often present it’s own service schedule that they claim is based on something like road, weather and general driving conditions in the dealer’s area, and for the most part recommends certain maintenance items prematurely. On that count, your husband is right to a certain extent…the dealer’s schedule is mostly a revenue generator. Following the manufacturer’s schedule however, is what smart people do to prolong the life of their cars. When the dealer suggests a service in addition to or earlier than what the manufacturer indicates, you can usually pass on it unless you are experiencing some specific issue or degradation in performance/driveability.

I would consider the schedule in the owners manual the absolute minimum required maintenance for the vehicle. Personally, I would do more frequent maintenance than recommended, but never less. I have noticed some obvious omissions in my vehicles manuals (renewing power steering fluid, renewing differential fluid, lubricating/replacing wheel bearings, etc.). I can only assume that the vehicle manufacturer was relying on the dealer to recommend these items as necessary (based on their “inspections,” which are included in the manual). I would not automatically assume that anything not explicitly listed in the manual is an unnecessary “profit generator.” Also, if you really believe you are going to a shop/dealer who is recommending unnecessary work, why are you still going there?

With a 2003, I would find a good independent honda shop and use them, instead of the dealer, for both routine maintenance and repairs. A good shop should be able to give you appropriate guidance as to when additional maintenance is appropriate (depending on how long you intent to keep this car).

I would go with the manufacturer’s maintenance charts with the exception of the automatic transmission. Get the transmission fluid drained, and if possible, change the filter every 30-40K miles. Be sure to use the manufacturer’s trans fluid. I do not recommend a trans flush.

You can get away with a lot of things forever. That goes for preventing maintenance too. We called it preventing maintenance when we didn’t want to do any. It works until you can’t use the landing gear without it jamming halfway. Things are made so badly these days that you’re better off if you don’t let anybody touch them. There isn’t enough space for a good machanic to do anything resembling good work now. On the neutral side of the question; I have felt OK when I took my Saturn Vue in for scheduled maintenance even when they didn’t reset my oil change light. It was easy to do it myself anyway. You can see that there is some kind of problem but that you don’t always get hurt by it. There isn’t any way for men to read the intentions of other men. That’s the stereotype I developed by watching the wives murder the husbands at pinochle over the long run. You have a better instinct about that than I do, even if you’re bad at it. It would be nice if I knew what impressions really mean. If you look at the staff and count their fingers and some of them are missing, does it mean that the staff is inept or that they have had to work for a living? The old guys with all their fingers still attached might never have done a days work. Some bright guys section failed the most important inspection because he was too busy drinking with the lieutenant and studying his college courses to actually look at his work. His fingers were still there. Just don’t plan any long trips the day after the work is done or you may never see your drain plugs again.

I want to echo what has already been stated. While a dealership will frequently try to sell unnecessary services, the procedures listed in the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule (the one in your glove compartment) should be strictly adhered to. If you want to change the oil more frequently than specified that is great, but none of the procedures should be delayed beyond the manufacturer’s recommendations.

There is an old saying that applies here:
“You can pay me now, or you can pay me later”–ergo, deferred maintenance costs more money in the long run, and it frequently costs MUCH more money since repairs are more expensive than timely maintenance.

I wouldn’t call this a male/female dispute since I’m male and have my cars serviced according to the owner’s manual. To me, a 5 year old car with 70k miles is just nicely broken in. I would expect to last at least another 10 years or 150k miles. If you include cosmetic maintenance at a detailer once or twice a year, it should continue to look good for that long.

Many dealers do try to pad the bill with things that aren’t in the manual and aren’t necessary. Those you can reject.

You are going to find that almost everyone here is going to say go with the owner’s manual. Most of us are men, so it is not a man woman thing.

I will make one additional suggestion. don’t have it done by the dealer Dealers are no better (or worse) than independent mechanics for almost anything you might need done on your car. They will almost always charge more per hour and often more for parts and supplies. They also tend to look at repairs a little different than the independent.

There is no need to bring your car to the dealer for any service other than service that is going to be paid for by a recall or original warrantee.  During the warranty period be sure to document all maintenance work.

I suggest that most people would be better off finding a good independent (Not working for a chain) mechanic.

Your husband is incorrect about the owners manual schedules being a “make work” project for the dealers. The dealers have zero, zilch, and nada to do with what is printed in those booklets.

The manual is a good guidline but there is one problem. In the interest of making their cars appear to be more “maintenance free” the car makers stretch some items out further than they should. Things like 100k mile spark plugs, extended trans fluid changes, etc. are not good. Other things like never changing a fuel filter “unless it needs it” or valve lash adjustments at 100k miles plus, etc. are other equally worthless recommendations.

Why don’t they care about this? Because any problems and expenses caused by those extended intervals will fall onto the car owners backs, not the factories.

There is one drawback to using an outside source to perform basic maintenance. If the vehicle suffers a major engine or trans problem under warranty and you can’t back up all services using proper lubricants/parts and service methods then warranty can justifiably refuse to fix anything.

Agree with Craig; the owners manual should be followed as a minimum. However, the manufacturer treads the narrow line between selling a “l?w maintenance” vehicle and making sure you get past the warranty without expensive claims. In other words, the owner, if he wants to keep the car over its design life, should do more than indicated. This means doing more fluid changes and flushes to maximize component life. These extra items are NOT necessarily what the the dealer pushes; those are revenue enhancers that are quick to do and use equipment which has to pay for itself.
Fleet managers usually rewrite the owners manual, and add maintenanance items to maximize the benefit to their employer.

I agree, IMO the solution for most folks is to find a good independent shop (preferably one specializing in their make) and to tell them what your intentions are (keep forever, sell in 5 years, whatever). Hopefully, the independent will take the long view and give you good advice regarding maintenance, repairs, parts (OEM v. after-market), etc. based on your situation. If your shop doesn’t do that, or you think they are ripping you off, find another shop you can trust.

My guy has a very good idea what I want done, and how I want it done, he usually doesn’t even bother to call me if he finds something that needs to be corrected, he just makes it correct. After telling him to" just do whatever it takes" enough times, he already knows the answer. I’m sure he has other clients that want to be informed every-time he spends a few $100 on an “optional” repair, and he would definitely give them a call before doing anything. The point is, that he know me and my cars well enough to make appropriate recommendations. He also knows that I will go to him when I need a $10K engine replacement, so it’s not really in his interest to try to sell me some $500 service that I don’t need.

Someone actually went to the trouble to see how long an American car would run without oil and filter changes; just adding oil as needed. The mileage at which the engine seized up (oil passages clogged, etc) was 62,000 miles I recall. That’s about 12-20 oil changes @$25 or $300-$500. Pay me now or pay me later.