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Old 02-17-2010, 02:54 PM   #21
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I think a lot of people, myself included, have a really hard time differentiating between critical maintenance and services that the dealer is trying to push on us. I am good about routine stuff that I am confident the car needs - oil changes, brakes, tires, battery. But I'm not so sure, for example, about the many flushes the dealer is constantly pushing. There are literally 5 different flushes the Subaru dealer tries to push on me constantly. I do them, but since I'm a low-mileage driver, not as often as they recommend.
The problem is that all this creates a sense of mistrust on the consumer's part. I really do want to have my car serviced as needed, but just wish there was a better way to know what (and when) is really critical. And I'm not convinced that the owner's manual isn't biased in favor of the dealer's service center.
For our Prius, the PriusChat discussion board is a huge source of knowledge on what maintenance is necessary and what's just "nice". There are even a couple of Toyota mechanics on that board who strive for anonymity but can tell you exactly what tech service bulletin to ask for or precisely where something is hidden in the shop's maintenance manual. For example no one on that board will ever have to pay a dealer $100+ to reprogram a key fob ever again.

Some of that board's fistfights seem a little silly, like whether the oil-change mileage should be 3000 miles or 5000 miles and exactly what analysis to do on the old oil before deciding when to schedule the next oil change. It's the ER equivalent of debating whether or not to pay off the mortgage or determining the "correct" SWR to the fourth significant digit.

But regardless of the quality of the discourse, there has to be an equivalent discussion board for your Subaru. 15 minutes could save you 15% or more on your maintenance costs...
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Old 02-17-2010, 03:04 PM   #22
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I change the oil every 5,000 miles, rotate the tires every 10,000 miles, and flush the transmission fluid every 25-30,000 miles. My cars tend to last a long time...........
Interestingly, we have two "aged" vehicles (92 Caravan & a 99 Town & Country) that have had the oil changed every 3,000 miles (now, about every 18 months) and other appropriate maintenance at that time. Both vehicles are in excellent mechanical condition -- I would not be afraid to take either one on 5-6,000 mile trip.

We also have a Roadtrek (which is a 2008 Chevrolet Express van with the 6.0 L engine). This vehicle has a computer monitored maintenance system. The first oil change was at a little over 12,000 miles. I expressed my concern to the GM mechanic and he told me that the system was much more accurate than the "Change every X miles" system. He said that, apparently, I drive very conservatively and was not in a dusty, dirty area. This computerized system sends the oil through a filter that analyzes the lubricating effectiveness.

So, who am I to argue -- the cost savings is enormous. (The second oil change was at a little less than 23,000)
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Old 02-17-2010, 04:49 PM   #23
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Eh, just find a good independent mechanic and skip the nonsense at the dealer. Works for us.
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Old 02-17-2010, 05:49 PM   #24
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Just to clarify this was at an independent shop, not the dealer, who I agree is prone to suggesting services way beyond what is included in the maintenance schedule. This guy is, as far as I can tell, an honest mechanic because I've heard him telling other customers that they don't need some work done or suggests a cheaper way out. He depends on word-of-mouth advertising and repeat business. I've never seen an ad for his shop but he runs six bays. He must be doing something right.

For myself, and especially for DW, reliability is an important concern. I've seen firsthand what can happen to women in broken-down cars. It ain't pretty. Granted in the great scheme of things it doesn't happen often, but once is enough if it's you....

An aviation background ingrains the importance of maintenance. An engine failure in a car is usually no more than an inconvenience. The same at 100 feet altitude after takeoff usually means bad things are about to happen.

To top it off, other than on birthdays and Christmas, I do not like surprises.
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Old 02-18-2010, 08:52 AM   #25
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But regardless of the quality of the discourse, there has to be an equivalent discussion board for your Subaru. 15 minutes could save you 15% or more on your maintenance costs...
This is an excellent suggestion, thank you. I am going to look for this type of online resource for Subarus. I would really like to be able to do some research when dealing with car issues; I hate feeling like the service advisor has me over a barrel because I know so little.
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Old 02-18-2010, 09:22 AM   #26
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This is an excellent suggestion, thank you. I am going to look for this type of online resource for Subarus. I would really like to be able to do some research when dealing with car issues; I hate feeling like the service advisor has me over a barrel because I know so little.
Let me google that for you
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Old 02-18-2010, 10:13 AM   #27
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hmmm, ask and you shall receive. Thanks!
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Old 02-18-2010, 10:51 AM   #28
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Eh, just find a good independent mechanic and skip the nonsense at the dealer. Works for us.
You have a Forester, right? How do you like it, overall, and how is the gas mileage? I see those cars all over here in Wisconsin.

I am really thinking about a small wagon/crossover to supplement the Odyssey. I tend to drag the boys to all their sport practices and stuff and the trunk on the Accord is way too small.........
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Old 02-18-2010, 11:35 AM   #29
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You have a Forester, right? How do you like it, overall, and how is the gas mileage? I see those cars all over here in Wisconsin.

I am really thinking about a small wagon/crossover to supplement the Odyssey. I tend to drag the boys to all their sport practices and stuff and the trunk on the Accord is way too small.........
I have a car Subaru has stopped making, a Legacy wagon. I have been very happy with it and would happily buy another Subaru, although I suspect that it will be a number of years before this is an issue given the lack of problems with the vehicle. Runs like a champ despite getting pounded with a very long commute for years, low maintenance costs, low insurance costs, and ample cargo space. You would not go wrong with a Forrester or Outback (the lone midsized wagon in the line-up). The only downside is that these cars tend to hold their resale value very well, so you don't save much by buying used.
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Old 02-18-2010, 12:35 PM   #30
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That's only 11 years ago - maybe it doesn't need it yet !

Koolau - You take defered maintenance to a whole nuther' level.

The first thing I would do is give it a refrigerant charge. They sell cans of R-134a (freon replacement) at many stores. You can put a can of the stuff in, in about 3 minutes - no kidding. The cost - maybe $4. Even if it leaks out in a month or three it still is less than $700.
Actually, this is a whole nuther' story - but making a long story longer, I promised myself, my boss and my wife I would wash the car the next year I made more money than I made in '99. Still waiting Could have something to do with my interest in RE, but that's a longer story.


Thanks for the suggestion. I'm not as actually mechanical as I am mechanically knowledgeable - if that makes any sense. I could probably figure out how to do this but my new (now relatively trusted) mechanic suggested just about the same thing - except that he did the work and also introduced a dye so that as the refrigerant leaks out, it should leave a tell-tale sign of any leaks. If the charge lasts for several months, I may just have it charged occasionally or learn how to do it myself. Thanks again!
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Old 02-18-2010, 12:45 PM   #31
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[QUOTE=Nords;905197]

Nice thing about living on an island is that you're rarely more than 30 miles from home, and never stranded in the middle of the desert.


Actually, the beater with the "expired" timing belt is on the mainland. I've driven it as far as 200 miles from home base and didn't worry too much about it. Sooner or later, I'll have to put a .45 round between the headlights and scrap it. For now, it's not costing much to store it and have a buddy start it occasionally. I've kept this beater 'cause I don't want to rent a car when I spend 1 - 3 months on the mainland. When it dies, I'll probably buy another beater instead of rent for that long a period.
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Old 02-18-2010, 01:39 PM   #32
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I guess it pays to be little mechanically inclined. I bought 96 Taurus in 98 and kept is for 9 yrs, from 50k to 160k. I think apart from battery, alignment and tires I spend very little on it. Expect one time when rear disc brake was jammed, I was not capable enough for that. I basically looked for sale on synthetic oil and changed oil only after 1 to 1.5 yrs whenever I felt like. I got transmission oil changed to synthetic and never bothered with it again. I think I changed coolant twice or thrice, spark plugs/wire once. I managed without AC for last two years as I did not want to vent gas in atmosphere and mechanic was asking 40$, AC clutch was faluty, not a costly part. Brake job was appx $40 if I remember correctly, front disc are so easy. I got it for 8900 and sold it for 1200 I think. I guess it cost me around 2000/yr to own apart from gas.

Back to topic, I think most of scheduled maintenance are just there to make money. I remember that for some car, timing belt needed to be changed at 60K but same car needed timing belt change at 100k in California? Car forums are great place to get information, sometime even copy of service manual is available. I don't know but I guess same applies to dental cleaning? Every company want to be in a business similar to HP printer's, sell once and milk forever.
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Old 02-19-2010, 03:57 PM   #33
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Back to topic, I think most of scheduled maintenance are just there to make money. ... I don't know but I guess same applies to dental cleaning?
I think that is a good analogy. Dental cleaning. You may not get your teeth cleaned for years and be ok. Or you may have a breakdown in your mouth and take yourself into the dentist for a checkup, and find that the pain is due to a cavity that has been festering into an infection, and now you need a root canal and crown. Repeat on a couple other teeth, and add in a few more significant deep cavities that need to be filled.

The preventative maintenance of a couple hundred bucks a year on cleanings, xrays, exams, etc lets you know what is going on, and things can be prevented or corrected early (ie minor cavity filling, maintaining most of the natural structure of the tooth which leads to stronger teeth and prolonged mileage on the teeth).

YMMV of course. Brush well, floss, etc and you may go years w/o an exam and no problems will arise. Or you just may have a minor cavity or two.

The above story was roughly DW's story. Root canals and crowns cost multiple thousands in our area. And crowns can pop off. The more tooth structure that must be removed during dental procedures, the weaker the tooth becomes, potentially leading to cracks or fractures.

Any dentist please feel free to correct or clarify my layman's understanding of dentistry.

Maybe you could do nothing to fix your teeth over the course of a lifetime (short of emergency extraction if it was REALLY bothering you), and just get a set of dentures or permanent implants at age 50-60 as needed. Wonder what the discounted cash flow looks like on paying for implants when you are 50 vs. paying for preventative maintenance and the occasional remedial procedure as you go along. Of course you have quality of life and aesthetic concerns to worry about - strong healthy teeth are important to me at least. Much like having a car that continues to run well and runs efficiently.
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Old 02-19-2010, 04:58 PM   #34
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I don't equate the maintenance of my teeth with my car...

I can see delaying some of the items on the car... right now I am not buying tires for the SUV... we do not drive it anywhere as much as we used to, so I am waiting... it doesn't NEED new tires, but new tires stop better than old... so I usually do not push to the bitter end..

My car with the oil sensor as said I needed oil changes in as few as 7,000 miles and as long as 10K... the car has 30K on it now and the oil has been changed three times.. and it is a 70% on the current oil...

Some things 'break', but you can live with them... they do not affect the mechanical systems... just your comfort and convenience...
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Old 02-19-2010, 08:47 PM   #35
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I guess the original question in this thread was

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I don't get it. If money is tight, and one can't afford to replace the car, wouldn't it make sense to take extra-good care of the car one has to make sure it lasts as long as possible? Why would anyone risk having to buy a new engine (or car) to save $25 for an oil change?
Just because a mechanics business is slow doesn't mean people aren't taking care of their cars. They could be taking public transportation, car pooling, doing the maintenance themselves, etc.

I'm retired and have all the time in the world to do my own maintenance. Even if I didn't, I wouldn't let mechanics (whose poor reputations over the years have only been second to lawyers) work on my car if I didn't HAVE to. My family has more incidents of stripped lug nuts and oil pan plugs, wrong oil filters, no oil, no filter stories than I can shake a stick at.

I take my tires off my car and just bring them in to have new tires put on. This usually moves me right to the front of the line. I buy oil and filters on sale, and change my oil for about 10 dollars (4 qts) in the time it takes someone to drive to the shop. I get "guaranteed for life" brake pads, plug wires, and anything else they have on the shelf good for as long as I own the car.

I save a bundle and have the satisfaction of a job well done.
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Old 02-19-2010, 09:35 PM   #36
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Some day when my ship comes in I intend to do a science experiment. I'll buy a new car and then see how long it runs without doing any oil changes/oil addition , filter changes, etc just to see. My suspicion is that The total ownership cost would be less and that I would actually save money over a dealer - maintained car.
You know, 10 or 15 years ago, I could have answered this question.

The boss's son, a dim soul, had a company car.

One day, he came in, said his car was in the shop, and gave me the number to call.

So I did.

The very nice mechanic on the other end said, "Ask Fred how long it's been since he put oil in the car."

So I did.

Fred said, "Oil?"

:::sigh:::

He had gotten a nice, shiney-new car, and had been driving it without checking anything - no oil, no fluids ...

The new engine cost some money. I forget the exact amount, but I remember being impressed

ta,
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Old 02-20-2010, 12:13 AM   #37
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As some of you know my son & wife have a boatyard. The industry is in the process of upgrading marine engines to meet new emission standards, he an authorized dealer for a couple manufacturers. I asked him about customers who buy directly from distributors... he said installation be an issue, as well as service because the new engines have computer systems and do-it-yourself service is not possible.
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Old 02-20-2010, 12:20 AM   #38
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I guess the original question in this thread was




I'm retired and have all the time in the world to do my own maintenance. Even if I didn't, I wouldn't let mechanics (whose poor reputations over the years have only been second to lawyers) work on my car if I didn't HAVE to. My family has more incidents of stripped lug nuts and oil pan plugs, wrong oil filters, no oil, no filter stories than I can shake a stick at.

I take my tires off my car and just bring them in to have new tires put on. This usually moves me right to the front of the line. I buy oil and filters on sale, and change my oil for about 10 dollars (4 qts) in the time it takes someone to drive to the shop. I get "guaranteed for life" brake pads, plug wires, and anything else they have on the shelf good for as long as I own the car.

I save a bundle and have the satisfaction of a job well done.
Back many years ago, I did a lot of stuff on my own car. Like Pete, it gave some satisfaction and saved a bunch of money. These days, it's just too much like w*rk to crawl under a car or reach through the maze of greasy wires and tubes to get to the oil filter, etc. So for a few bucks and some time, I take it to someone I've learned to trust (somewhat) and let them do it for me for money. I check their work as best I can (e.g., check oil level, leaks, etc. after an oil change.) It's a compromise - as is all of life. One of my many back-up plans for retirement is to start doing such things again. But, before I would do that, I'd first get rid of one of the two cars to save money (a lot of money!!).
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Old 02-20-2010, 11:16 AM   #39
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IIRC, long ago the Navy experimented with not doing maintenance on a couple of submarines. It ended with loss of life, if memory serves. A practice as criminal as Chernobyl, IMHO. I am glad they learned something from it.
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Old 02-20-2010, 11:19 AM   #40
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By the way, I only buy used cars. For one thing, the quality and maintenance track records guide my choice.
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