Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Scheduled maintenance

Car manufacturers lists scheduled maintenance items to repair at specified mileage intervals. How much of that is necessary repair and how much of it is marketing to develop steady income for the service department? More to the point, I have a car with 100k miles and would like to continue driving it as long as possible. Aside from fixing what is broken, what other repairs or preventive maintenance do I need to consider to keep the car running optimally?

The best bet is to follow the recommendations of the owners manual. The vehicle manufacturers have put a lot of thought into these little books and I rarely see any items that I would skip. You can also keep your eyes and ears open to any check engine lights or funny noises that your vehicle may make. Now is better than later when problems crop up. Have them checked as soon as you can. Procrastination in the maintenance arena means an early trip to the salvage yard in most cases.

I can see why you might be skeptical about your maintenance schedule, but service intervals are a double edge sword.

If manufacturers make intervals too short, the cost of ownership and cost of operation go up, making a car less appealing to those who are cost conscious. If intervals are too long, reliability suffers. I think this removes the conflict of interest you fear, and it means you can follow the maintenance schedule without second guessing the engineers who wrote it.

Thank you all. Just brought the car in for an oil change and found out that I need new brake pads and rotors, and a compressor for the air conditioning. I can’t wait to check out what is in store for me as far as recommended scheduled maintenance to add to my current $1600 service bill. Maybe I should take to riding my motorcylce more often…at least there is no need for air conditoning.

Actually, there is no need for air conditioning in a car.
Trust me, many, many people survived for decades without the luxury of A/C.

Would I choose to live without A/C at this point in my life?
Absolutely not.
However, if you are very strapped for cash, you could simply open your windows and allow outside air to flow through the car.

Have you seen what motorcycle shops charge for labor and tires, and how often motorcycles need new tires? It’s difficult to find a car that costs more to maintain than a motorcycle, but depending on what you ride, you may have succeeded.

Keeping any vehicle in proper working order isn’t cheap. Reading these forums, I am often amazed at how many people think they shouldn’t have to spend money maintaining and repairing their vehicles.

If you are getting sticker shock each time you take your car in for maintenance, I recommend either shopping around for better labor rates, or learning how to maintain your car yourself.

johnwong; first of all, a Cadillac is NOT and economy car. It is a rather unreliable LUXURY car. You may not have been aware of that when you bought it.

Secondly, as others point out, Americans spend about $1200 per year on maintaining their cars. Those are mostly normal cars, no luxury cars like yours. You should budget maybe $2000 per year to keep the Cadillac running. Those are the facts of life.

This may be your first car, so it’s an important lesson as to what NOT to buy next if you want to drive econimically.

In general, if you buy any car, it will consume its own value (purchase price) in maintenance and repairs over its life. A motorcylce will likely do the same.

So, a $13,000 economy car with no extras will cost you $13,000 in upkeep over its life. A $35,000 Cadillac wil cost you…$35,000 over its life which is probably 15 years maximum. A Mercedes costing $55,000 will cost $55,000 in upkeep over its life which may be 15-20 years.

You won’t find anyone here that considers the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance excessive. Some recommend some additional services in addition to those recommended by some manufacturers (typically, more frequent oil, transmission, and brake fluid changes). What I do strongly recommend are two things: first, go by the manufacturers’ recommendations, not the often unneeded recommendations of the dealer (often including various flushes). Second, find a good independent mechanic for most of your maintenance work (use the mecanic finder feature on this web site). You don’t need to pay the premium price of the dealer.

If anything, the factory owners manuals often promote the idea that the car needs less maintenance than it actually does. It’s a PR move to convince the public their vehicles need little maintenance-wise.

Case in point. Your car has 100k miles on it. How many times has the transmission fluid been changed?

Other points. How long on the air and fuel filters? The spark plugs? Still running on the original serpentine belt?
How often on oil change intervals?

Speaking from experience, I can tell you that the vast majority of problems seen in a dealer service department can be traced back to poor maintenance or abusive driving habits. The owners of the vehicles in question would generally beg to differ of course.