Car service is too expensive!
July 27, 2007 11:14 AM   Subscribe

Do I need to follow Chrysler's service schedule to the letter, or risk having my warranty voided? My 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee is a fine car, but it's quite expensive to have all the Chrysler-scheduled service items done at the designated # of miles. However, the service manager says that if I don't do all the items, Chrysler may refuse to honor my warranty. How much choice do I really have? Can I delay or ignore some of the scheduled service items?
posted by JimN2TAW to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total)
You don't have to get your service done at the Chrysler dealership. You can save money by finding a good auto shop who will do it at a lower price.

Also, Chrysler can't deny a warranty claim unless they can show that a failure was caused by a specific act (or negligence) on your part. For example, if you fail to change the oil and your electrical system has a problem, they can't deny the claim, because there's no possibility that the two are related. Read the Magnuson-Moss warranty act for more info (assuming you're in the US).
posted by helios at 11:33 AM on July 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

Maintenance of your Jeep is expensive in part, from what I can tell, because it's 4 wheel drive. Its maintenance schedule requires all sorts of suspension, axle, and transfer case grease and lubricant maintenance. That stuff can be a pain in the ass to do, but ignore it at your peril. They don't make this stuff up just to line their own pockets; car companies make more money selling you replacement parts for the ones that fail early because you don't take care of them : ) Helios's suggestion of using a non-dealer shop is a good one. If you ever find yourself questioning whether you really need the maintenance someone is suggesting, here's a copy of the factory maintenance schedule for your Jeep:

The same thing is available in your owner's manual. Note that in some cases the schedule says "inspect, replace if necessary." Those are times when a reputable mechanic might say, "I looked at your drive belt because you're at 60k miles, but it doesn't need to be changed yet," and a disreputable one might say, "You're at 60k miles, time to change your drive belt!"

Knowledge is power, for you.
posted by autojack at 11:50 AM on July 27, 2007

First, on autojack's specific example: if your engine is an interference engine (dunno if yours is), replacing the timing belt at the designated mileage (even if it doesn't look worn) is cheap insurance against catastrophic engine failure.

Still, autojack's link to the maintenance schedule is indeed your best friend. First, because some dealerships will recommend things that aren't on the maintenance schedule but tell you they are (or let you infer it), and second because you can often identify things that you can do to save significant funds.

Case in point: my wife's minivan went in for service, and I had them do the scheduled stuff, except for the air filter -- they wanted to charge $50 and I can do it for $10 in my driveway. $40 is $40, take it when you can get it. Just make sure you actually do it, though.

which reminds me, I need to pick up an air filter for my wife's minivan
posted by davejay at 11:58 AM on July 27, 2007

The dealer suggested maintenance schedule is actually a bare minimum designed around the idea that your car will last 100K miles. With proper maintenance, most cars should be good for 200K or more. Take a look at Pat Goss from PBS for a maintenance schedule that is a lot more intensive and designed to get you to the 200K point and beyond.

I second the recommendations to find a good independent mechanic and let him handle all non-warranty work.
posted by COD at 12:05 PM on July 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

The answers above are much appreciated.

So let's say my work friend, who knows everything about cars, says that the oil will really last 8000 miles, but Chrysler says change it every 5000 miles (I'm using random numbers here).

Then, if I follow his advice and change it every 8000 miles, in your experience would Chrysler deny an oil-related warranty claim?
posted by JimN2TAW at 12:14 PM on July 27, 2007

davejay is right when he says,"some dealerships will recommend things that aren't on the maintenance schedule." The dealer for my wife's car actually printed up its own maintenance schedule, which is much more extensive than the one in her owner's manual. Go with the official one, and go to an independent garage (not JiffyLube!)

I don't have direct experience, but it's likely that if the car suffered some engine-bearing related problem, the dealer would at least try to deny warranty coverage if you can't document oil changes at the recommended intervals.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:22 PM on July 27, 2007

don't scrimp on the oil changes... the difference between 3,000 mile changes and 6,000 mile changes over the life of the car is nothing compared to the cost of the car and gasoline. Regular oil changes will do more to maintain the vehicle than anything else you do...
posted by HuronBob at 12:35 PM on July 27, 2007

Chrysler probably would try. My father had the oil pump blow and seize the engine on a brand new Mustang with about 2500 miles on it. Ford initially denied the warranty claim on the basis that the oil level was low in the car. On a new car with 2500 miles! He eventually got it covered after he complained up the chain of command a couple of levels.

Again, the maintenance schedule in your owners manual is a bare minimum schedule. If you aren't following at least that you should expect maintenance issues. However, a lot of it is DIY if you can follow directions, and the rest can be done by in independent shop that will be a little lower on labor and probably about 25% lower on any pars it can get from a 3rd party.
posted by COD at 12:39 PM on July 27, 2007

Then, if I follow his advice and change it every 8000 miles, in your experience would Chrysler deny an oil-related warranty claim?

As if most people even keep the proof of oil changes.
posted by smackfu at 3:00 PM on July 27, 2007

Thank you all for your answers.
posted by JimN2TAW at 7:33 AM on July 28, 2007

If you do change your own air filter, be sure you save the receipt for it. You may never need it, but you can prove it if you do.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 12:14 PM on July 28, 2007

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