Virtually everything is changing during this crisis, including how you take care of required maintenance and repairs on your vehicle. If you own a car that’s still under the manufacturer’s warranty, you’re required to have the recommended maintenance spelled out in your vehicle owner’s manual within certain time/mileage limits. If not, you risk having your warranty being voided when lack of recommended maintenance is the cause. You also must be concerned about having safety items like tires and brakes inspected.
Most manufacturers recommend maintenance every six months or 5,000 miles, whichever occurs first. Oil changes are recommended every year or 10,000 miles (synthetic oil now used in all late model cars) whichever occurs first.
Vehicle sales are surprisingly strong when many other retail sales have fallen off. This is because we feel safer in our cars. Your car is just about the only place to be safely outside your home, without having to wear your face mask. Most people won’t take a train, bus, Uber/taxi or fly, for fear of being infected. More and more of us are driving our cars to vacation spots. It’s natural that you want to have your car checked out before embarking on a long trip. Who wants to be stuck on the turnpike on Sunday night with a disabled vehicle?
These are my tips on safely maintaining your vehicle.
1. Be sure you read your owner’s manual so that you know what your responsibilities are to maintain your car under warranty. If you can’t find your owner’s manual; you can access it online.
2. If you feel uncomfortable about bringing in your car for service, check to be sure the service department you use has taken all the proper precautions…All employees and customers must wear face masks, social distancing maintained with marks on the floor, hand sanitizer and handwashing basins quickly and easily accessible, plastic “sneeze shields” separating you from those you’re dealing with, and daily deep disinfecting cleansing of all the areas you’ll be in.
3. Check to be sure your car will be disinfected thoroughly before it’s returned to you. Some service departments offer an antimicrobial treatment which will protect your car from being re-infected for 30 days.
4. If you still feel uncomfortable about visiting an auto service department, ask if they offer and delivery. A few are offering this at no charge if you’re not too far away, and most are offering this for a charge.
5. Call the service department and explain that you feel uncomfortable about bringing your car in and ask for an extension of the time stated in your owner’s manual. Be sure you confirm in writing, email, text, or letter. Most car dealerships and manufacturers will be flexible…an extra 3 months for an oil change shouldn’t be a “big deal”.
6. If you have a problem with your car while under warranty, report the problem to the dealer service manager immediately. Explain why you can’t bring your car in and ask that this complaint be noted in your service record. When you can bring the car in, most dealerships and manufacturers will still fix the problem under warranty at no charge. As always, be sure to confirm this in writing.
7. Finally, remember that you are not required to have your car maintained at the dealership you bought it from, or even by a franchised car dealer. If you take it to an independent service department, be sure to keep the records proving you had the maintenance recommended in your owner’s manual done at the specified intervals.