A friend of mine just traded his Chevy Impala for a Ford Fusion and posted on Facebook that he was making the switch having owned Chevys for the past 31 years. In the posts, someone else made comment on how their local GM dealer refused a warranty repair which brought back a few memories and subsequently got me thinking... and some reminiscing.
It amazes me how many people who buy a car making that $20k+ purchase then go cheap with the quick-lube oil changes. That new car should be getting its services (not oil changes) according to the owners manual and not by the regualr schedule, but by the extreme duty schedule at the dealer you bought it from. Yeah i know the $125 labor rate is going to put the fear in most people, but here's the thing and I'm sure my mechanic friends will confirm this, many dealers who get that car on the rack for warranty work will look at the oil filter first to determine who's been servicing the vehicle. An oil filter brand other than what the dealer uses is a guaranteed denial on any warranty claim and/or repair.
Back in the 1990s, I was service manager of a small Volvo/VW dealer in Hickory, NC. We were selling 10-15 Volvos per month but servicing 30-40 Volvos a day. When I say servicing, I'm not talking oil changes, but the Volvo recommended services every owned had in the service portion of the owners manual that got stamped at every service. I had people making 60-70 mile round trips from Charlotte because they heard we were doing what Volvo recommended for the service- NOT what the Charlotte dealers wanted. It was amazing how we had the repeat customers where most of the time, I could remember everything we had done to that car before. Keep in mind that these Volvos were mostly 240s, 740s and 960s- all of which had specific things extra like valve shim adjustment on the 4-cylinder models (240, 740) and crankcase cleaning where these models had no PCV valve. So needless to say the "big" service was usually the 30,000 mile service that would average around $400-600 depending on the model and that was with a $65 per hour labor rate. Now since the dealer just acquired VW, this was a very hard sell to those customers as they all are an animal of a different breed. Plus the VWs had only a 2yr/24000 mile warranty while Volvos had 5yr/50,000 warranty. Still I convinced many of those customers to let us service their cars by simply saying,"Give us a chance".
My point here is get the services done to build up a relationship with the dealer's service department. If possible, know the tech who's doing the work on the car. Definitely cater to a service writer who will eventually know you when you walk through the door. If the owners manual has a place for that dealer stamp, make sure you get that stamp as proof of service for the car. This is so important that many people fail to realize the benefits after your car goes out of warranty. Let me explain.
Those customers I had didn't just buy a car, but rather they made an investment. To most "big box" dealers today, customers are not much more than a number so most could care less about you and your car. So when that Volvo came in with 52,000 miles or that VW came in with 28,000 with a problem, the first thing I did was look at the history of our servicing the car. If we did every service on that car, then as a service manager, I offered "goodwill" where the dealer and manufacturer would cover a certain percentage of the repair. More often than not, my dealer rep would tell me to take care of the labor and he would warranty the part. Sometimes it was a 3-part deal where the customer, dealer and manufacturer all paid 33% of the repair. Unlike all customer paid repairs, goodwill was done at the dealers warranty rate. Seriously, we had service customers that came from afar. A mattress salesman from near Winston-Salem, a wholesale jeweler from Tennessee, and a Volvo owner from Shelby who was so impressed with our service, he purchased a new VW for both of his twin kids on their 16th Christmas.I have to say that job was a lot of times was a pain in the rear, but sometimes it made me feel good knowing I was not just helping a customer, but in most cases I was helping a friend when I recognized them coming through the door.