Hear that? That’s the collective sigh of relief emanating from many a business office on Dealership Row. The final signature that should ensure that the next few years of vehicle lease or ownership will be without major expense.
But, as technology advances for the modern vehicle, there are new and perplexing services appearing on the menu board at your local dealership. When did an oil change become a $100 (or better) proposition? In many cases, there’s no choice in the matter. It’s how the manufacturer built your vehicle, in an effort to supply you with more Hood Down time than Up.
Servicing a vehicle in years past may have seemed to incur lesser expense, and while the costs may have been lower on paper, you were doing more regular service just to keep a car headed to an engine/transmission implosion at 150,000 km.
The larger the engine, the more oil it requires, generally speaking. High-performance vehicles will tend to favour the single-malt variety of lubricants (read: synthetic, frequently) throughout the vehicle architecture, so figure that extra cost into your maintenance budget.
Maintenance intervals matter, too. The owner’s manual will tell you how often the engine oil or transmission fluid needs to be changed. Some cars have an oil life monitor, which can limit oil changes to as rarely as 16,000 km, which is a year’s worth of driving for some people, but how often it advises you to perform maintenance largely depends on your driving style.
All-wheel and four-wheel drive vehicles, which are becoming more common every year, also need lubricant changeovers. All-wheel drive systems tend to be one of the most ignored for service, and the most expensive to repair.
If you’re considering a hybrid vehicle, investigate the intervals/cost for such items as inverter coolant.
In recent years, more vehicles have been designed to run on the most basic of unleaded fuels, as is the case with all of these driveway occupants. Most of these blends in the land of 87 octane can include up to 10 percent ethanol. A chat with Bill Gardiner, one of Canada’s best known mechanics, discussed deposits, which can occur on fuel injectors using ethanol-blended fuels. Most Premium blend fuels are without the ethanol blend, and should be labeled so on the gas pump.
By using Premium fuels, you can help reduce the need to perform fuel injector cleaning service. You can also experience performance gains on some vehicles. From the Ford Mustang owner’s manual circa 2014: “Premium fuel will provide improved performance and is recommended for severe duty usage, such as trailer tow.”
A vehicle’s gas cap script will state whether or not Premium fuel is Required or Recommended. On average, Premium fuel incurs a 12-15 cent premium per litre over Regular. Factor that into your annual operating costs.
Forget about changing HID headlamp bulbs in the driveway on a Saturday afternoon; this is often a dealership proposition. Some manufacturers even list dealer replacement only for halogen bulbs, too.
How long is your battery covered? Some warranties keep you charged for two years or 40,000 kilometres. Remember that wear items, such as brake pads, can all have very specific caveats.
Your new vehicle will come with new tires. But how many kilometres are they good for? High-performance tires on a sports car may not have a treadlife warranty, on OEM or replacement tires.
However, most tires do come with an expected treadwear life, but there’s no mileage warranty on tires supplied as original equipment, as is almost always the case. (Road hazard and defect warranties do apply.) Your tire life will vary, based on how well you maintain them, and your vehicle.