The Myth of Extended Maintenance Intervals: Part II

My personal interest and involvement stems from the fact that extended service intervals are the absolute antithesis of everything my nearly 30 years in this industry has taught me. It is just dangerous and expensive to wait too long to have your vehicles serviced, maintained or properly repaired. It all starts with the simple concept of “cost per mile,” a concept first introduced to me in the late ’70s.

This concept was presented this way:
“Which costs more: cheap tires or expensive tires?”
“Which costs more: preventive maintenance or fix it when it breaks?”

Looking at the benefits and the costs associated with aggressive maintenance vs. terminal neglect isn’t much different and this could not have been demonstrated more clearly than it was just this afternoon. Like most of you, we have a core of customers who are passionately committed to what I would call aggressive vehicle maintenance. In other words, if the service appears in the owner’s manual or it is something your experience has proven will reduce their overall cost of operation, increase performance, reduce the risk of a breakdown or extend the life of the vehicle, their attitude is, “Do it!”

In too many cases, these individuals are ridiculed by their friends and associates for “foolishly” throwing their money away. One such individual, a long-time customer and friend, was in today to pick up one of the five vehicles in his “fleet” we care for. He is a college professor and his wife is a teacher, and every year — three or four times a year — they rotate each of their vehicles in and out of the shop for service.

Today’s trip was the last for this fall, and as we took a few minutes to visit, he commented on the teasing he endures from those of his friends and colleagues who do not understand his obsession with maintenance. While we both seemed to instinctively know these dollars weren’t wasted, I’d never taken the time to actually run the numbers. Certainly, this would prove to be as good a time as any.

Over the years this family has spent tens of thousands of dollars with us starting with the oldest of their vehicles, a 1985 Toyota Camry that we began taking care of soon after it had been purchased used with just over 42,000 miles on it. Today that vehicle is still “in service” with over 217,000 miles on it and has been joined by three other Camry’s — another 1985, a 1989 and a 1998 — as well as a 1998 Honda Accord.

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