Ask the Best and Brightest: 15k Mile Scheduled Maintenance?

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Reader Ricky Heang writes in:

Is the 15,000 maintenance really necessary? I have an 2008 FJ Cruiser and I am just hitting 15K. I had the car for about 6 months and the dealership charges $298 for the 15,000 maintenance. I have always thought that these were just traps for dealers to charge a ridiculous amount of money for oil changes and inspection. I checked what they provide and it looks like lots of visual inspections and just an oil/filter change and tire rotation. The car still feels new to me, and I don’t I need anything more than an oil change and tire rotation. What are your thoughts?

Edward Niedermeyer
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  • Anonymous Anonymous on Aug 27, 2009
    jmo : August 27th, 2009 at 10:06 am I just cant’ figure out why one should assume that an independent mechanic isn’t just as likely to try and screw you as a dealership. I’d have to think they are more likely to do it as, if they own the shop, every extra dollar is a dollar in their pocket. The other issue is - how does one go about finding a qualified mechanic. That's why we all say a GOOD independent mechanic. I've met my share of bad oens as well. The best way to find a good independent is through word of mouth with more creedence given to recomendations from people who do a lot of their own wrenching and use a mechanic because they don't have the time or tools for a particular job.
  • CRacK hEaD aLLeY CRacK hEaD aLLeY on Aug 27, 2009

    Here is the 30 minute $40 list on the FJ: Replace engine oil and oil filter Rotate tires Re-torque propeller shaft bolt ***Inspect**** Ball joints and dust covers Brake lines and hoses Drive shaft boots (4WD) Engine coolant Exhaust pipes and mountings Front differential oil (4WD) Radiator core and condenser Rear differential oil Steering gear box Brake linings/drums and brake pads/discs

  • Albert Albert on Aug 27, 2009

    "The car still feels new to me" If this feeling would be relevant I would not have done any service on my last car (SAAB 9-3 1998, driven up to 120.000 m) or ny current car (SAAB 9-3 SE 2006 50.000m). So that argument is cr*p. And the reader can afford a very big Toyota and when it comes to do some maintenance, he starts panicking because he has to pay a little bit of money! If you can't afford it sell the car now.

  • Joeveto3 Joeveto3 on Aug 27, 2009

    I feel bad for those who aren't mechanically inclined or who simply don't have the time/desire to learn about their vehicles and do their own work. I feel bad, because unless they know someone they can trust, they are usually at the mercy of the repair shops. I'm one of those weirdos who can't wait to dig into my vehicles and learn about them. Then, based on their use, I create a maintenance plan. Unless something changes (vehicle use), I stick to it. I do it for cost savings, I do it for the fun of it, and I do it so I'm sure it's done correctly. As I read through the responses of the first group of folks, those who have been brainwashed by the marketing leveled at them, to believe dealership service is the only way, I shake my head in disbelief. There truly is one born every minute. And I have to agree with those others who would prefer not to have a bunch of strangers' hands messing with their vehicles. Follow someone else's shoddy work, and you'll know what I mean. Drain plugs and oil filters that have been torqued to within a hair of failing, are too common. But I wish that was all of it. I remember once taking my Cadillac to the dealer to have the interior door panel replaced, as it had been slowly working itself free. I'm fastidious about these things, wanting my cars to look brand new, even if I've put over 100K miles on them. The dealer's service writer wanted me to do a top engine flush while I had the car there. It would only cost me $350 on top of the $400 door panel. I flatly, but politely told him "no." He pressed. I smiled and responded "no," again. I should have left then. He pushed again and I let him have it. I explained in detail how his suggestion was bullshit designed to free me of my hard earned cash. Unfortunately, I did not leave. The dealership fixed my door, I picked the car up the next day. I paid for a new door panel, and truth be told, it looked good enough. But I should have inspected it. What was sold as a new door panel ended up being my old door panel cleaned up with some new fasteners. Unfortunately, it was too late, I had already left the dealer and it was a few days later when I discovered this. Had I still been at the dealership, I would have asked for my old panel... It appeared the dealer was going to get his cash, one way or another. Then there were my parents, who had their beloved Dodge Omni religiously serviced by the dealer from whom they bought it, brand new, in 1988. In 1994, the car became my college beater. It was sky blue, with the sky blue cloth interior, and a 3-speed auto. I grew to love the car. The first time I changed the oil, shortly after taking possession, I was shocked by what I found. The oil pan bolt was nearly frozen, and the oil had long turned to tar. Forget sludge. I honestly don't know how that little 2.2 kept chugging on. I can say what I want about crappy Chrysler engineering. But I guess they did a few things right. At any rate, I had to pick up the phone and tell my folks how they had been screwed by the home town Dodge dealer, and buying another car from the crook probably wasn't a good idea. To this day, they call me to run various dealer suggestions past my bullshit meter. And when I'm in town, they like me to drive their cars and give them the "once over" to see if anything needs attention. And don't get me started on the Firestone Master Cares that used to service my company cars. Holy cow. In one instance, they recommended $1200 of repairs. I reviewed the suggestions, nixed a few items, and then approved the rest. The following month, I went in for my monthly service, and once again, they suggested the same $1200 worth of repairs. I pulled the receipt from the month prior, with the same work, and they back-pedaled. A decade later, I brought them a different car so I could use them for their "lifetime" alignment, and had a good laugh as they suggested the same list of garbage, at roughly the same cost. Once again, I had to describe in loving detail, how I had just recently done that same work, by myself. Oh the back-pedaling.... Bottom line: If you aren't inclined to do the work yourself, find someone you can trust. And then...what's that Ronny used to say? "Trust but verify..."