Today’s blog is about manufacturer’s recommended service intervals. Why they set them so high. Why we aren’t trying to sell you something you don’t need when we recommend a fluid service, part replacement etc. sooner than what the manufacturer says is required. What it takes to really keep your vehicle going well beyond the factory warranty.
A hot topic for vehicle manufacturers is something called “Cost of Maintenance”. This may be called other things, but the fundamentals are the same. The normal cost, to the vehicle owner, to keep the car in good working condition. The more extended service intervals, the more “lifetime fluid fills”, and the more stretching of disposable materials that can be done, the less it “costs” to maintain your new car or truck. The problem with this is that while warranties vary from brand to brand, on the average, most newer cars will easily clear the 100k mile mark without a huge amount of maintenance beyond oil changes and a set of tires and brakes. Sure air and cabin air filters may be sprinkled in there, but beyond that, typically getting to 100k isn’t a super huge feat.
Once you hit that 3yr/36k, 5yr/60k, or even 10yr/100k, the Manufacturer is clear of responsibility other than recalls. On the other hand, what does that leave you, the owner with? Well, if Toyota doesn’t recommend a transmission service until 100k miles, and you go by that schedule, you may have a transmission that has excessive wear due to fluid that has been extremely hot and no longer performs like it should. That can lead to costly repair bills.
As manufacturers look to cut costs down to the last penny, things like the transmission cooler, that use to be a separate item, or combined with the radiator, has now become a small, box item, slightly bigger than a club sandwich on some vehicles. There is no fan to pull air through, and no other form of cooling other than the minor amount of air that may pass over it. This means the transmission fluid stays hotter, thus causing the transmission operating temps to be hotter. Heat causes wear. This means that a $200 transmission fluid service at 60k miles, will go a long way to preventing a $4000 transmission replacement down the road.
AWD systems, 4×4 systems including transfer cases rarely have any kind of fluid cooler on them. Again, heat causes fluid to degrade and fail to work as it should, and in turn cause wear. Most of these systems only hold 2-4 quarts of fluid and the majority are a simple drain and fill procedure. What about differentials? Again not usually terrible to service, but keep in mind, someone who uses their truck or SUV to put their boat in the water submerges the back part of the truck. This can allow water to enter the rear differential through the vent tube or weak seals. Changing the fluid usually is in the $75-150 range depending on vehicle, fluid and capacity, but a rebuild on a rear differential can be $700+.
A leaking valve cover may seem like a simple enough fix, but if we have to remove the spark plugs to remove the valve cover, and you already have 80k of the 90k recommended service miles on those plugs, why not pay the cost of the spark plugs and enjoy not paying any additional labor?
There are a hundred different scenarios, but we want you to know we put you and your family first on every job we do. Our goal is to guide our customers to real world applications and necessities, with vehicle longevity in mind. For us, it’s not just about getting our customers to the end of a warranty contract. If you ever have a doubt about any fluid service or early parts replacement we might recommend, just ask and we will be happy to show you the fluid or part and explain to you what caused it and why it should be changed.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”