When you go to a garage, the mechanic (like most other service providers) will often try and get you to purchase more than you initially came in for. Sometimes these upsells are worthwhile, othertimes they are marginal at best. No matter what the upsell, make sure that it is a decent value, and don’t allow yourself to be coerced into buying something that you don’t want or need. Most upsells can wait, at least for a little while, so do your research (that smartphone might be useful after all!). Also, ensure that any work you do have performed will be done properly, with the correct parts and fluids.
10) Coolant Flush
You shouldn’t give in to this upsell all the time, but check your owner’s manual to see if you are due for a coolant change. Generally this should be done every 2 or 3 years, but newer coolants can sometimes last longer. Make sure that the proper coolant for your engine is used, as using the wrong coolant can cause problems with your engines gaskets and metals. If you aren’t due for a flush and the fluid still looks good, skip it, as it will only be a waste of money.
A light tint can help protect your interior, especially if you live in an area with lots of hot and sunny weather. It can help prevent cracks in the dash, keep your leather in better shape, and also make your car more comfortable to get into. Tint can also reduce the load on the air conditioner, which can slightly improve your fuel economy. Be aware that tint can affect your view at night and that tint laws can vary from location to location.
8) Brake Bleed and Flush
If you’ve noticed that your brake pedal is getting soft, bleeding the brakes might solve the problem, but a complete flush is usually a better idea, and one that shouldn’t be much more expensive or time consuming. You should also consider a flush every couple of years, as water can get into the brake system over time. This could cause the aforementioned soft pedal, and could also cause corrosion in the brake lines and other parts, which can lead to premature failure.
7) Winter Rims/Tires
If you live in an area that gets regular snowfall and cold temperatures (if it’s usually below 45 degrees Fahrenheit) in the winter, the proper tires can make a huge difference – winter tires can decrease stopping distances by 10-20% on snow and ice. If you already have winter tires, purchasing an extra set of rims for them can save you considerable money, especially if you change the wheels over yourself. Doing it yourself with a separate set of wheels also means no more waiting at the garage every spring and fall for your tires to get changed over.
6) New Brake Rotors Instead Of Turning
In the “old days” brake rotors were often turned to resurface them when new brake pads were installed. When changing pads it is still important to ensure that the rotors are clean and free of grooves, but these days is it usually cost prohibitive to turn them. Rotors can often be replaced for around the cost of machining, and the rotors on newer vehicles are also made to be lighter, meaning that a resurfacing could reduce them beyond their minimum tolerances. Also, the more metal removed from the rotor, the poorer the brakes’ resistance to heat fade.
5) Automatic Transmission Flush
An automatic transmission flush can sometimes be a good idea. If you drive a car known to have a temperamental transmission, a transmission flush between services might help keep it shifting properly. Be aware however that most of the time a flush doesn’t include a filter service, so you probably want to do a complete transmission service as recommended by the manufacturer. For cars without known transmission issues and for those with manual transmission, you should be safe just sticking to the normal recommended service intervals.
4) Undercoating and Rustproofing
If you live in the rust belt (especially if you live where they use salt) and plan on keeping your car for a while, undercoating and rustproofing can potentially keep your car on the road quite a bit longer. Rocks and stones can create chips in your cars paint which leave the metal unprotected and can eventually lead to rust. A yearly rustproofing application can keep the metal protected and help prevent that rust from forming.
3) Fan/Serpentine/Timing Belt Replacement
If your fan or serpentine belt is starting to crack, it’s best to replace it. A broken serpentine belt can cause your engine to overheat, your battery to drain, and even a loss of control if the power steering suddenly fails. You might want to keep the old fan belt as a spare just in case you have a failure down the road. The timing belt should be replaced if it shows sign of damage, or as recommended by the manufacturer. On some engines a timing belt failure can cause the valves to hit the pistons, a very expensive repair.
2) Part Quality
When replacing parts on your car, it’s important to make sure you that you use quality parts. This doesn’t mean that you have to buy parts from the dealer or buy the most expensive replacement parts, but you should stick to parts with a name that you recognize. If you buy parts online, be sure that you are purchasing from a reputable dealer as there are many counterfeit parts around. The last thing you’d want is to have a substandard part fail and cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
1) Exhaust System Repairs
The exhaust system is an often overlooked safety component on vehicles. If the exhaust has a leak, there is the potential for the occupants in the car to get carbon monoxide poisoning, which is potentially fatal. If the mechanic detects an exhaust leak, it’s best to get it repaired as soon as possible. As with all upsells, you may wish to shop around for a better price, but until your car is fixed take short trips, keep your windows open, and try to avoid idling and stop and go traffic. When you do get the exhaust fixed, consider spending the extra for stainless steel parts, especially if you plan on keeping your car for a while or live in the rust belt.