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 Ford/Nissan/Hyundai have 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 100,000 miles. 

The reason for the Ford/Nissan/Hyundai comparison has to do with the current press car-clogged driveway; a 2014 Mustang GT, a 2013 Pathfinder, and a 2013 Accent L. Three very different vehicles, with three very different transportation solutions. To give you some specific examples, we’ll look at service intervals, such as lubrication, and original equipment item life, such as tires. 

All three of our driveway candidates possess an oil pan, with varying degrees of capacity, and viscosity need. The Accent 1.6-litre four-cylinder holds 3.6 litres of oil in its sump, with no synthetic requirement. The Pathfinder, with filter change, holds 4.8 litres in its belly. The Mustang GT’s five-litre V8 gulps down 7.6 litres of oil, recommending synthetic blend and full synthetic formulas.

High-performance vehicles will tend to favour the single-malt variety of lubricants throughout the vehicle architecture, so figure that extra cost into your maintenance budget.

Hyundai lists lubrication intervals of every six months, or 6,000 kilometres for the Accent, whichever comes first. Nissan’s Pathfinder shows the three month/6,000 kms mark as the severe-use schedule for oil and filter changes, and six months/12,000 kms for less severe use. The Mustang GT uses an Intelligent Oil Life Monitor, which could increase the oil change interval to 16,000 kms, if you drive it like an automatic Fiesta. Ford advises that the oil change indicator could illuminate as low as 4,000 kms under severe conditions, AKA My Right Foot.

The Pathfinder tester is a 4WD configuration, which also needs 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 recent 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; “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 the Mustang’s HID headlamp bulbs in the driveway on a Saturday afternoon; it’s strictly a dealership proposition. And Nissan lists dealer replacement only for the halogen bulbs on the Pathfinder. But, the Accent not only lets you change the halogen bulb, it details a step-by-step procedure, with an exploded diagram in the owner’s manual.

How long is your battery covered? The Accent warranty portion keeps 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? The Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar P255/40R19 skins on the Mustang GT don’t have a treadlife warranty, on OEM or replacement tires. (Thanks to my right foot, and others like it.) 

The Pathfinder’s Continental CrossContact LX tires rate about 100,000 kms for replacement tires, 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.) 

The Accent’s Hankook Optimo H724’s have a treadlife warranty rating around the 120,000 kms mark for replacement tires. Your tire life will vary, based on how well you maintain them, and your vehicle.