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Vehicle Maintenance: Factory Recommended vs. Dealer Recommended

Updated on December 21, 2011

Dealer vs. Factory Maintenance

Did you know that your vehicles owners manual is the least read publication in the world?! Your owners manual contains a lot of useful information, including what the factory (Toyota, GM, Honda etc.) recommends for maintenance based on the mileage of your vehicle.

During my years in the automotive service business I realized early on that most customers think that when dealing with their dealer then they are dealing with the manufacturer of their vehicle and that is not true. The vast majority of New car Dealerships are franchises, independently owned although there are a small amount of factory owned dealerships. The independent owners of these dealerships sign what's called a "Dealer Agreement" with the manufacturer which states that they will abide by certain rules and requirements but are free to recommend and charge whatever they choose for service and maintenance.

When you go to the dealership for service/maintenance the service advisor will present you a "menu" of services and attempt to sell you a maintenance package. These menus are made by vendors at no charge to the dealer. These vendors are chemical companies that sell the dealership the necessary chemicals to perform FLUSHES on your vehicle. Needless to say these maintenance packages are going to have flushes and fuel additives built into them, none of which are needed for your vehicle and none of which the factory recommends for your vehicle. As a result of this common practice the maintenance package is going to cost more than if you had just stuck with what the factory (the makers and engineers of your vehicle) recommends.Staying on the topic of the dealership service menus, you will also notice that there is a whole list of inspections listed, otherwise known by dealership personnel as "fluff". The overwhelming majority of dealerships today advertise that they perform a FREE multi-point inspection of your vehicle every time you bring it in and everyone of those inspections listed in the maintenance package their trying to sell you is also included in the FREE multi-point inspection.

Read and familiarize yourself with your factory recommended maintenance located in your owners manual BEFORE going to the dealership for service so you'll know exactly what you need. Don't let dealership staff tell you that the area in which you live and drive has abnormal driving conditions due to weather, terrain etc. because its nothing more than a scare tactic. Unless you have a truck in which you do a lot of towing it just doesn't really matter. You don't need flushes, you don't need fuel additive, you don't need fluff and you don't need to spend more money on something of no value.

Here's an example of one dealerships recommended maintenance vs. factory recommended maintenance:

2010 Toyota Camry (4 Cylinder) 5,000 Mile Service


  • Change engine oil and filter
  • Rotate Tires
  • Brake Inspection
  • Followed by a list of several inspections

= $89.95


  • Change engine oil and filter ($38.99)
  • Rotate Tires ($24.99)

= $63.98

The prices shown in the brackets is what the same dealer would charge for those services if done individually . This dealership also advertises that they perform a full 60-Point COURTESY inspection every time your vehicles in for service. Upon reviewing their inspection sheet, the brake inspection as well as all the other inspections they had listed on the 5,000 mile service are part of the COMPLIMENATRY inspection yet it was almost $30 more to do the dealers service.

Your next visit to the dealership insist they perform the factory recommended maintenance, nothing more and nothing less.I know this information can be confusing and I attempt to write as clear as possible but if you have any questions please ask.


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      backoo 6 years ago

      I can tell you, you are 100% correct. The additional chemical additives are a complete money making scam for the dealerships and the chemical reps. Customers tend to not know that the dealerships are packaging these chemicals with the regular service so that the chemicals are hidden in the quoted price. I guess its to make up for the slow economy and the customers that they are losing.

    • gmmurgirl profile image

      Gei Moore 6 years ago from Philippines

      Thank you for this useful information. I am guilty too because I don't read manuals at all.