You can save hundreds of dollars a year and thousands over the life of your car if you follow the tips below.
Note: Never skip actual maintenance items as per your maintenance schedule. These save you money in the long run. What you are doing is simply not requesting it as an all in one "service".
How to order your regular scheduled car maintenance
The solution is to break out the manufacturer recommended maintenance for your car into the individual tasks and order these individually whether at a dealer or your own mechanic. Do not order anything that says "Check". Order only the operations that end up going beyond just a check.
For example, a typical service will state Change Oil, Rotate Tires, Perform Multi Point Inspection and be charged at $150.
Well an oil change can be had for $20 to $30, a tire rotation for $20 and a multi point inspection can be skipped or is often complimentary at the dealer or elsewhere.
How to get it done for less
Your dealer will most likely have coupons for oil changes and tire rotations. Multi point inspections will often be included with oil changes, will sometimes be free, or available for a small charge.
Independent and chain garages will also offer the same services. They won't necessarily be cheaper as dealers have to compete more and more. The important thing is to go with someone competent, who won't add unnecessary work, and who you can go back to to resolve any problems.
The major chains often do free brake and other inspections in the hope of finding something wrong to fix.
Don't sign up for the work without a second opinion and be prepared to ask for proof.
Some tips for getting good maintenance
- Oil changes are cheap but can still be screwed up by the likes of Walmart & Jiffy Lube. Make sure it is done right.
- Do not go beyond your maintenance interval and evaluate from your car maintenance schedule whether you come under the severe service interval. If in doubt, change oil early, it is cheap compared to problems.
- Run your car for 20 to 30 minutes to get the oil nice and hot before it is drained.
- Oil is cheap. Look for rebates. Brands do not matter so much as does compatibility. Refer carefullt to the requirements for your particular vehicle and buy according to that spec.
- The main advantage of synthetic will be if you get too busy to change your oil on time. Synthetic is only a little more expensive and on balance worth it given the investment in your car.
- Don't buy cheap oil filters. The original filter is your best bet. Buy them directly to give to your mechanic if they try to charge you too much or can't get it.
- Learn to change your engine air and cabin air filter yourself as well as the wipers.
- Always consider buying the parts yourself and giving to your mechanic. Original parts are best and usually not more expensive.
- When original parts are expensive, some research might help you determine what are reasonable or even exact alternatives. A cabin air filter is a good candidate for not worrying about who makes it.