OEMs Are Reducing Service Frequency: Interval Dilemma

Emily is a wife and mother of two, the owner of AutoNiche (a family friendly repair shop in Markham), a licensed technician, certified child car seat technician, and automotive writer with Driving.ca.

Our clients are paying the price for longer maintenance schedules.

Have you come across the extended warranty on 2010-2011 Honda CR-Vs for high engine oil consumption (TSB 12-089)? This bulletin was issued October 2015 so these vehicles have been on the road for some time.

What I find interesting is the request to the service advisor: “Talk to the customer about the many factors contributing to oil consumption. Remind him or her that with less frequent service intervals for modern engines, it’s not uncommon to add oil between services. Therefore, it’s a good idea to check the engine oil regularly (as recommended in the owner’s manual) and add oil as necessary.”

Is it really low maintenance?

What this bulletin is saying is that since the intervals are being extended (with the OEM pre-setting the maintenance minder system), the customer would be wise to check his or her engine oil level regularly. The automaker covers itself by saying that this practice is recommended in the owner’s manual. Let’s be real here. How many of your clients with newer vehicles check their engine oil level regularly? That practice is assumed with old vehicles, but rarely does someone purchase a new car and think they should check engine oil. Most salespeople present these vehicles as low maintenance, and five years later their service advisors are supposed to tell the clients that they should’ve been checking their engine oil and topping up as necessary! In the long term, is the ‘low maintenance’ schedule really worth it if it ends up costing you an engine in five years?

Educating clients

Do your clients know what engine oil does? Traditionally oil was meant to lubricate, clean, and cool the engine. Yes, engine oil today is a better product than before, but we have higher expectations for the oil. Tolerances in the engine are smaller and sometimes, oil plays a part in engine timing. Do your clients know how to check their fluid level (in case they decided to follow Honda’s suggestion)? If not, consider showing them. You might be surprised how many have never done it before!

Be proactive

We often see the results of poor design/ maintenance in our bays many years after the vehicle was manufactured, and even from the very first oil change you can talk to new vehicle owners about your experience. Keep it very matter-of-fact, and if needed you can show them the manufacturer’s bulletin too. Ask them how long they want the vehicle to last.

If they want to keep it beyond the warranty period, have them consider doing regular maintenance sooner than what the manufacturer recommends.

There’s a saying out there that things aren’t built like they used to be and that cars just don’t last as long anymore. While there may be some truth to that, I’d suggest that vehicles aren’t maintained like they used to be, either. While it looks like the trend is going towards increased maintenance intervals, we as auto repair experts need to educate and guide our clients in making better choices when it comes to maintaining their ride. We should be the ones they look to for the very best information on car care!

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