2010 Mercedes Benz E350 it isn't a problem yet

  • 2010 MERCEDES BENZ E350
  • 6 CYL
  • 2WD
  • 50,000 MILES
I'm annoyed because the dealership jumps ahead on the maintenance schedule if I bring the car in for any reason. For example, if it's 10-15,000 before a maintenance routine is supposed to be performed and I bring the car in for an oil change, they'll do the service anyway. Hello, $2,000 oil change! So I'm looking for another shop and I'm about 4,000 miles past the regular maintenance (or so the car is telling me) because they did the last one so early. How long can I push this before it actually hurts the car. So far it runs like a champ. Thanks for your help!
Do you
have the same problem?
Saturday, June 27th, 2015 AT 10:20 PM

1 Reply

There's something missing from your story. No repair shop can do work you don't authorize. The laws vary by state, but here in Wisconsin, there are three choices on the repair order for you to initial. One says you want an estimate. The most common one says it's okay to do the work up to the dollar amount you write in. Customers and shop owners hate the third one. That one says, "do the work, regardless of cost". No one wants to surprise you when you come to pick up the car, and we know people are going to be unhappy, so we rarely use that third choice. I'd be willing to bet you have something like that too, and somehow you're giving them authorization to do this extra work. If there is nothing for you to sign when dropping the car off, specifically tell them you don't want anything else done. They should give you a copy of the repair order. If necessary, write that on there and have the service adviser sign it.

There are also different maintenance schedules for different driving conditions. Ford is famous for this trick. They list a "normal" schedule that makes their cost of maintenance appear to be much lower than that of their competitors, but if you drive at night, during the day, on dusty roads, on paved roads, highway driving, city driving, rain, sun, etc, you fall under the "severe use" schedule which is the one that should be followed anyway. Your dealer might be following a better schedule than what a silly notification in the car is telling you. Those just go by mileage and don't account for the number of right turns you made or how many times you applied the brakes! That's sarcasm related to our joking about manufacturer's maintenance schedules.

I don't want to trivialize the importance of proper maintenance, but for most newer cars, oil changes at scheduled mileage intervals, coolant changes every two years, and an alignment when you notice a new pull, the steering wheel shifts position, or there is uneven tire wear, are what you need to watch. Some cars need to have the steering and suspension systems inspected at least once per year because they are known for parts falling apart leading to loss of control and crashes. That doesn't apply to your car, but an inspection at a tire and alignment shop every two years is a good idea.

To put things in perspective, and possibly reduce your worries about exact mileages and maintenance, to show my students what some engines are capable of, and as an experiment, I haven't changed the oil in my '88 Grand Caravan daily driver in over 13 years! This is not neglect; it is abuse, and obviously I'm not suggesting anyone else do this. I use this van to drag a tandem axle enclosed trailer that's bigger than the van to the nation's second largest old car show swap meet, (coming up in three weeks). The oil filter gets replaced about every five years. This engine has well over 420.000 miles, and it still runs great. Now, there are some engines out there that will self-destruct if you don't change the oil exactly when it is supposed to be changed, but for this one, it kind of blows a hole in the maintenance story.

The point of this sad story is there are plenty of things you can worry about as you're trying to get to sleep at night, but this isn't one of them. Even if you follow every recommendation to the letter, parts are still going to wear out. The most important one to prevent problems is oil changes. There's plenty of people who do those themselves and skip the dealer services. The biggest advantage to having the dealer do all these things is if you do develop a serious problem while the car is under warranty, they will have the documentation in their files to prove you did what was required to keep the warranty in force.

Understand too that probably 99 percent of car owners never even open the owner's manual or look at the recommended maintenance schedules. Most of them keep up with the oil changes, but for the rest, they wait for something to start making noise or stop working. (And most of those things that stop working have nothing to do with maintenance services).
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Saturday, June 27th, 2015 AT 11:28 PM

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