Dear Tom and Ray:
I own a 2008 Honda Civic with 33,000 miles. I have regularly changed the oil and rotated its tires. I also have replaced the air filter on one occasion. Is there any reason for me to succumb to the pressures of the Honda dealer that services my vehicle and have the 30,000-mile service, or am I just better off continuing to change the oil and rotate the tires? Thanks. — Seth
RAY: I’ve never heard the word “succumb” used to describe getting your car serviced, but I can see that you’re skeptical about the dealer’s intentions, Seth.
TOM: You’re right that the oil and filter change account for most of the actual mechanical work done on this car during the 30,000-mile service. But Honda does call for a number of inspections. And you’d be wise to have those done.
RAY: Honda says that on a 2008 Civic, at 30,000 miles you should inspect the brakes, brake lines, suspension components, steering components and drive boots.
TOM: And while nothing is likely to be wrong with the major components of the car, you might need brake pads, for instance. And it would be good to know that before you gouge the disc rotors and “succumb” to a complete $600 brake job.
RAY: Similarly, your rubber drive boots (we call them constant velocity, or CV, boots) should be fine. But if you happened to have run over a sharp object and torn one of them open, you’d want to get the boot replaced for 75 bucks before all the grease leaked out and you “succumbed” to a seized CV joint for several hundred dollars.
TOM: But if you have reason not to trust your dealership, you don’t have to succumb to it. You can succumb to any mechanic you choose, dealer or independent. Simply take your Honda owner’s manual with you, and open it to the section in the back where it lists the items that Honda recommends at each service.
RAY: Then ask your mechanic to do all of the things on the 30,000-mile list, including the inspections. And ask him to stamp and sign the book. That way, if you ever have a warranty claim or want to sell the car, you’ll have proof that you kept up with the regular services.
TOM: Just keep in mind that the real value of the regular service to the dealership, and to other shops, is that it gives them the opportunity to sell you other things that you might not need at 30,000 miles, like new transmission fluid, new spark plugs or — oh yeah — that air filter someone talked you into.
Dear Tom and Ray:
My neighbor, who does not impress me as having an IQ above that of a Neanderthal, told me the other day that while he didn’t want to be minding my business for me, I am “ruining my car parking it the way I am.” I don’t know whether he has a point or not. It rains a lot where I live. I do not have a garage. A sidewalk leads from the parking lot in front of my apartment right up to my front door. When it rains, the grass also becomes soggy. So, what I sometimes do is drive my car along the sidewalk, with the left-side wheels on the sidewalk and the right wheels on the grass. This allows me to get very close to my front door and get out on the sidewalk. Since the grass is about 2, maybe 3 inches max, below the sidewalk and it squashes when I drive on it, this puts the left-side wheels of my car higher than the right-side wheels when I’m parked this way. Is this “ruining my car”? Or is my neighbor a Neanderthal? — Beverly
TOM: I wouldn’t call him a Neanderthal, Beverly. I’d describe him as more of a passive-aggressive nebbish.
RAY: You’re not harming your car at all. The suspension couldn’t care less whether it’s on a slope — certainly not this gentle a slope.
TOM: I mean, if you parked sideways on the steepest part of Mount Kilimanjaro for years on end, you would put some unusual stresses on some of the suspension parts. But even that would pale in comparison to the fines you’d be racking up from the Tanzanian Parks Service.
RAY: What your neighbor is trying to tell you is that he doesn’t like you parking on the sidewalk. He finds it ugly or tacky or inconvenient. Or he doesn’t like the way it squashes the grass. But rather than say, “Beverly, I wish you wouldn’t park there; I think it makes the entire apartment complex look like a junkyard,” he’s trying to convince you that it’s in YOUR interest not to park there.
TOM: That’s passive-aggressive or, at the very least, nonstraightforward behavior. So, the next time you see him trying to convince the paper boy that throwing the paper into the bushes is bad for his arm, ask him if he’d like to talk about his feelings about where you park. That should get rid of him.
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