Should I pay the money?

I have a 2006 VW GTI that is in great condition, however the dealer is trying to get me to do an overhaul on its systems such as drain all of the fluids and to give the car a tune up. I plan on keeping the car for a long time (at least another 10 yrs). Should I do this systems update for around $800, or just fix things as they go bad?

If you want to just “fix things as they go bad” then your car won’t last…and your last bit of time with it will probably be expensive as it goes downhill.

A car is a machine and all machines require regular maintenance or they don’t perform well and end up with premature deaths. The maintenance will cost you money. But it will cost you less in in the long run than if you neglect it.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Take out the car’s owner’s manual. If you don’t have one use the web to find one so that you do have one. Find the section that describes maintenance schedule. Follow it.

  2. Ask around among people you know for a trustworthy, locally owned, independent auto shop. Avoid dealers (who rarely have any special advantage over regular mechanics) and corporate chain “auto care” places. Start taking your car to this local shop on a regular basis - whenever your maintenance schedule says that you are due for something. Just keep a little log of when things get done and watch the odometer & the calendar. (Maintenance schedules go by time/miles, whichever comes first).

I don’t understand what you mean by the term “overhaul”. To me an overhaul is where you tear apart a motor, transmission, or differential and replace all the worn parts. Changing out old fluids and replacing them with new fluids isn’t an overhaul it is preventive maintenance. Fluids go bad over time. Your car is now 5 years old so things like new coolant make sense. If you have 40K to 50K miles on the transmission then a fluid change for the transmission is a good idea. VW’s have “lifetime” fluid which is a load of garbage, if you want to avoid replacing the transmission have the fluid changed. You are due for new brake fluid too. A tune up is basically new spark plugs. Some dealers use the term tune up to pump up their charges.

Take the car to a VW specialty independent shop and get a quote for fluid changes, new plugs, a new air filter, new fuel filter, and new cabin air filter. This should be a good list of services and see how their quote compares to the dealer.

What does your dealer mean when he says “a tune-up”? Is he going to adjust the timing and dwell, check the points? You’ve got a five year old car, presumably under warranty. Have you been doing the maintenance required to maintain the warranty?

independent mechanic, year, make, model, blah blah <— see how much shorter that is?

How many miles do you have on it? When was the last time the brake fluid was changed? When was the last time the coolant and transmission fluid were checked? If the brake fluid has never been changed, it is time for that. It might be time for the other fluids, too.

RTFM Read the friggin manual.