A Mark

That’s what I looked like when I went into EZ Lube yesterday, a mark, someone that has no idea about preventative maintance for your car, and they were ready to offer every service in the book. Granted, I can change my breaks, disc brakes at least, I’ve replaced and alternator in a ’67 Cadillac, but I’m not always the best when it comes to the things beyond the oil change.

Of course when I discuss this with my roomate, he just laughs, “you paid how much…they did what?” Thats when I began to feel like a heel. Now, I understand that many of the cars that come in for service there may need some extra things done to keep them running well, but I’d wager that the majority of cars don’t need every service they recommend.

As discussed in, Freakonomics, a rather interesting book, mechanics have an informational advantage over the common car owner. After all, they learned their trade just like anyone else, though you may have studied biology, real estate ot computer science, you and the mechanic will both use that information to your advantage in your career. I don’t want to sound pretentious, I drive a Lexus IS 300, my truck was wrecked earlier this year, so I was able to afford something a little better than I had before. Its a 2003, with roughly 38,000 miles on it, runs great, so why did I let them talk me into more than an oil change?

I think it has to do with their informational advantage, they march me out of the waiting room, show me some things that look dirty and I better get everything done or my car could seriously breakdown. Their knowledge of maintanance plays on my lack of knowledge and the fear of my car breaking down, and I help them make some extra money. When you consider that my car is basically a luxary Toyota, this means that though it has some nicer features that a Toyota model of the same class, it has the same (or better) parts that are in every car built by one of the markets’ most reliable car manufacturers. Even though I bought a K&N air filter, to negate extra charges for a replacement air filter, I was still suckered into the other things that I probably didn’t need done. Radiator flush, power steering flush, fuel injection cleaning, etc., granted these things can help my car run better, should I have even bothered, at least so soon?

I know they try and tell everyone that they need an oil change every 3000 miles, I think this applies mainly to older cars, I believe most new cars can go longer without service. I’ll go 5000 miles without an oil change, I could probably go more since I use Mobil 1, 100% synthetic oil, without needing to add a quart. I hope more people learn from experiences like this, I know I need to educate myself more to prevent being out a chunk of change for something I didn’t really need. I’d recommend that others do the same, consult multiple sources and find out what maintance you really need and which services are just a waste. For me, this is a lesson learned.

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