Avoiding Car Maintenance Trip falls – Oil-Changes, Tune Ups, and Tire Rotation/Balancing


Car maintenance implies perpetual expenses. Chief among them is the 3000-mile oil change. Going by the manual of our primary car, five-year-old Honda CRV, the oil change is due only every 10,000 miles. There is a lot of debate on this topic as to what should be the best preventive maintenance plan. We diligently followed the book for the last 60,000 miles without problems. The last time around, we took the car for an oil change, at a place where they combined the oil-change with a full-service-hand-wash for a grand total of $39.99. Minutes after acquainting with the automobile the mechanic came to us with his marketing cap on. His suggestion was that we do three changes, as the oil that came out was extremely dark:
  • Oil Change,
  • Air Filter ($29.99), and
  • Oil Flush ($99.99)
We did clarify whether Oil Flush translated to changing the transmission fluid and it was explained to us that this new service flushed out all the deposits that may have accumulated – the gullible us could only conjure up yes. Needless to say the grand total amounted to $200 including taxes – a figure we did not even see in our mind's eye when we took the vehicle in for an oil change. There is also a lot of discussion on whether such a flush is ever necessary and whether it would do more harm than good. Having read up on what actually is done with an oil flush after the fact, we are steering clear of it in the future. Since the mechanic said the oil was dark this time around, we are instead going to increase the frequency of our oil changes to every 5,000-mile as opposed to the factory recommended 10,000-mile interval.

Tune-ups are another potential money drain. Although advertisements push the 15,000-mile “minor” tune-ups (close to $100) and the 30,000-mile “major” tune-ups (close to $400), interestingly enough the vehicle manuals do not mention the need for such services. Here again, we are more comfortable going by the manual recommendations (fluids, spark plugs, etc.) and these services add up to a lot less money overall.

Tire rotation and balancing every 7500 miles is considered a standard for most cars. This along with puncture fixes can add up significantly over the course of the life of the tires. Most places routinely charge around $10 per tire for rotation, $15 per tire for balancing, and $20 for puncture fixes. While the service itself is necessary as both the service people as well as the car manufacturers generally agree on Tire rotation and balancing intervals, the costs can be minimized or even eliminated – Life time rotations, balancing, and puncture fixes are included for free with the purchase of new tires in certain retail outlets such as Costco.

Last Updated: 03/2010.

1 comment :

Niterunner said...

"the oil that came out was extremely dark"

This means absolutely nothing. Used oil is black in color. Black is "extremely dark".

An oil analysis is the only true way of knowing if your oil needs changing soon or later. Google "used oil analysis" to find places that you can simply mail a sample to have tested.

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