Auto service checks key at these 3 mileage marks
Starting with lawn mower repairs at the age of 12, Jim Trump says he’s always loved “anything that runs on gas.” After working 17 years for a national auto service franchise, Trump opened his business, Castleton Auto Repair in Indianapolis (castletonautoservice.com), in 1989 with the goal of giving customers more.
“I wanted to give my customers a one-stop shop,” Trump says. His company has earned the Angie's List Super Service Award every year since 2007.
We asked Trump for his ideas on how to keep your car going longer. Here's what he had to say.
What can I do to extend my car's life span?
Trump: Change your oil at least every 5,000 miles. However, we recommend doing it more frequently at every 3,000 miles. If you stay close to the manufacturer's recommended service schedule, your car will pay you back for its lifetime.
The three most important items on the service schedule are the 30,000-, 60,000- and 90,000-mile services. They're mostly inspections and fluid changes, and it doesn't usually cost much money unless we find things that need to be repaired.
Each car has an inspection list from the manufacturer that shows what needs to be done to the vehicle every now and again. We really have to see the car to know what it needs, because that depends on what services have been performed and if the owner has been keeping up on maintenance.
One question we get often is people asking when a tuneup should be performed. Even though some modern vehicles can go 50,000 to 100,000 miles between tuneups, having one done is important. What we do is offer to spend about an hour with the car doing a comprehensive inspection — checking the hoses, belts, spark plugs, and the exhaust and suspension systems. In a lot of cases, we can see problems before they become more expensive.
It's a huge benefit to find a shop you can be loyal to and patronize regularly. A customer who's been coming to me for years is definitely going to have their car back on when they need it Friday night.
Keeping paper copies of completed services is an important thing I promote to my customers. Even though a shop may have computer records, every few years you should ask them to print out everything they've done to your car, because computers do crash. A preowned car with a paper trail of completed scheduled maintenance is worth a lot more than one that doesn't have it. And some replacement parts have lifetime warranties, so you might not end up paying for it again.
Our records will also show us if you're overdue for a scheduled maintenance item. If you take your vehicle to a new shop that has no history on your vehicle, that's a disadvantage.
I think it's better to find a generalist service shop so you can get whatever you need done without having to shop around. A dealer and an independent shop should be the same as far as quality.
Price is easy — the independent shop is probably always less expensive. The hours of labor it takes to do a job shouldn't be any different, unless one shop charges $150 an hour and another is $50 an hour. I charge $79 per hour, but some dealerships and other shops can be closer to $90. If you're using good quality parts, their cost should be the same at most places.