“No Scheduled Maintenance Needed!” . . and Other Vile Lies

One way that car companies attract business is by advertising that their vehicles are low-maintenance and – sometimes – no maintenance. This sounds too good to be true and – as is usually the case with such things – it is.

Because entropy.

Things always wear out. Nothing lasts forever, certainly not mechanical things. You can increase service intervals and reduce maintenance, but no maintenance is a shuck and jive. What it really means is:

When it inevitably fails, you replace it.

And it will probably fail sooner because it’s not regularly maintained. This is the nature of things, no matter the advertising copy. It is of course very profitable. Instead of – as an example – spending $50 to have a mechanic grease suspension fittings once every year or two you end up spending hundreds to replace worn out suspension parts when they fail. Which will happen sooner than would otherwise have been the case because they weren’t regularly greased (and are designed such that they cannot be regularly greased; there are no fittings to grease).

A small hassle is eliminated – in favor of a much larger expense. The advertising copy never mentions the expense. Which will probably fall into your lap shortly after the warranty expires.

Time to buy old US gold coins

Where are the “consumer advocates” when it comes to things like this?

Here’s another to be wary of: Automatic transmissions that are advertised as never needing to have their fluid or filter changed. This is like saying you never have to brush your teeth – and don’t worry about being toothless a few years down the road.

Hydraulic fluid inevitably becomes contaminated with small particles – the result of friction and wear and tear within the transmission. These small particles can – and will – eventually clog a critical small passage within the fluid circuit, resulting in something that will probably cost you a great deal more than having someone drain the transmission and refill it with fresh fluid sans the particles.

There is also filter, of course. It is there to capture these small particles and take them out of circulation. But its capacity to absorb these small particles is not limitless. This is the reason for changing filters periodically. A car company can tell you that periodic replacement of the filter isn’t required. But that is not the same thing as saying it’s not necessary.

Same goes for the fluid. Over time and because of use, it degrades. Chemical changes occur. If they didn’t – if the fluid were just as fresh at the end of the car’s service life – why not just drain it from the car before it’s sent to the crusher and rebottle it and sell it “as new”? Heck, why not drain if from wrecked cars with “only” 50,000 miles on their odometers and re-sell the fluid “as new”?

Such a waste to just throw it away…

Of course no one re-sells used fluid (or filters) “as new” because it’s an affront to the obvious – and an obvious source of criminal fraud.

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