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Car Maintenance Schedules

Maintaining your car properly is one of the smartest things you can do!

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Maintenance & Warranty Questions

What is routine maintenance on my car?

Most routine maintenance visits include basic items you’re probably familiar with: an oil change with new oil filter, checking parts like the brakes for wear, rotating the tires, and hooking the car up to a diagnostic computer to check the internal functions and look for any error codes. On one hand, today’s new cars are more sophisticated than ever before, with electronic systems to track and control everything from safety features to comfort amenities. But routine maintenance on most new vehicles is also simpler and more straightforward than ever before.

If your car is more than 10-15 years old, traditional maintenance schedules apply. But here are a few things that have changed from the “old days” when servicing a newer car.

  • Most oil change intervals have gone to 5,000 miles – or even 10,000 for some automakers.
  • The traditional “tune up” for engine timing and spark plugs is a thing of the past.
  • Lubrication for joints, bearing and other suspension bits is no longer necessary. These moving parts are sealed for life.
  • Coolant flushes are still needed, just not as often - only every few years.

Here's the rule of thumb: Just follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule and, most often, your car should continue to run well for years to come.

For more about routine maintenance, read full article

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Is a car warranty transferable?

Usually, yes.

If you buy a used car (whether from a dealer or a private party) and the car is still within the original manufacturer’s new car warranty, the warranty transfers to you as the new owner. The warranty is connected to the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), a 17-character identifier that’s unique to every vehicle. But as the second owner, knowing the length of the remaining coverage can be tricky. Warranty coverage starts from the date of the vehicle’s original purchase and is not based on the model year alone. This could mean almost a year of additional coverage or a year less of coverage depending on when the car was purchased. Warranties have both a time and a mileage limit, so you might have “bumper to bumper coverage” for 36 months or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first.

One more thing to know: there isn’t just ONE warranty on a new car. What you might think of as a single warranty is made up of different coverages for different parts, and each part may have its own coverage terms and duration. The powertrain (engine, transmission, etc.) might be covered for 4 years but the rust-through coverage might be 10 years. So even though your car’s bumper-to-bumper warranty might’ve lapsed 5,000 miles ago, there may be parts of the vehicle that are still covered.

And we’re sorry to be the bearer of bad news. But generally NO warranty will cover wear items like the brakes or wipers or things like a broken windshield. You’re on your own there.

Finally, if you bought an extended warranty from the dealer or bought a Certified Pre-Owned car that came with an additional warranty, these warranties may or may not be transferable to another owner. See your warranty booklet (or the dealer) for more info.

To get the whole story on transferable warranties, read full article

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Which manufacturers have complimentary maintenance?

Let’s face it: buying a new car can be a pricy proposition. But here’s some good news. Over the last several years, more and more manufacturers have been including a complimentary maintenance program as a perk. After all, who doesn’t like something for free?

This is a win-win proposition for both the buyer and the manufacturer. You as the buyer get some no-cost services, but the dealer also benefits. They’re hoping that you will get used to relying on their dealership for maintenance and repair. In addition, some luxury manufacturers wrap these services into the overall feeling of a high-end concierge. For these lucky few, all the maintenance details are cared for, so they can focus purely on the joy of driving.

Coverage and duration of these complimentary maintenance programs definitely vary. Some only cover the first inspection and oil change, sort of a small “thank you” for buying. Others try to entice you with all the scheduled maintenance you need up to 6 years and 60,000 miles. And while these national programs are provided by the automaker, certain dealers get in on the act with things like free car washes or complimentary vehicle checks.

These programs do change often, so for the latest information, we’ve created a page to keep the status current. Even so, the dealer might be the best way to know for sure if that new car you’re considering comes with a complimentary maintenance program.

See list of programs

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Is prepaid maintenance worth it for a car?

You’ve just worked out all the details for buying your new car. Now the dealer asks you if you’re interested in a prepaid maintenance plan. That’s where you pay one price up front to cover all the routine services for your vehicle for a particular amount of time.

Is it a good idea? It really depends on what kind of person you are. What drives you most? Convenience or price?

The Pros:

  • Lock in the cost of maintenance at today’s rates without worrying about increases.
  • You never have to decide where to bring your car for service.
  • Your car gets consistent high-quality care while you (and your car) build a relationship with the dealership. If you take your car to “Bob’s Roadside Service Center” just because you’ve got a coupon, you never know what you’re going to get.
  • You can negotiate the price of the maintenance contract when you buy.

The Cons:

  • If you go through the cost of every service line by line, sometimes the numbers don’t add up. That, of course, depends on what value you place on convenience and what you paid for the plan in the first place.
  • If your automaker offers a complimentary maintenance program for your initial term of ownership, you won’t get as much benefit from a pre-paid maintenance program.

So in the end – like so many things in life – it depends on what you’re looking for.

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