There is a classic prank that shop owners play on each other. It’s called “How much is your oil change?” and is performed by calling the unsuspecting victim during business hours and barking the question as soon as they answer. The fun comes in hearing how they manage a polite response.
Indeed most independent shops are not “quickie lubes” and therefore offer much more than an oil change. And yet it is this clichéd service that cars need most frequently—or at least what drivers think they need. How do we balance the expertise and caring of a specialty shop with the public’s quickie lube mentality?
Hybrid owners are a little different in their savvy for “k” services. It’s not an “oil change” every so often, but a “5k”, a “15k”, a “70k”, etcetera. Dealers have capitalized by creating a myth that something special happens at every interval of “k’s”, with inflated service prices over their own “express lube” lanes. My impression of the system (though I’m sure it varies) is that an individual will get whatever they come to expect—the express lube ($40 e.g.) or the “k” Service ($150 e.g.)—regardless of what they actually need. Though a cynic would argue that the both services are the same, there remains an underlying problem: what is best?
In fact vehicle maintenance is not arbitrary. The purpose is twofold:
1. To keep the machine in reliable condition
2. To protect factory warranty
Luscious Garage’s “The Vitals” does precisely that. We check everything on the car that is essential:
1. To rely on your car
2. To ensure that any future warranty claim is honored
Though owners should be commended for knowing their vehicle’s mileage, it’s my opinion that even the “k” services can be inadequate, and that blindly following a list of specific items is completely missing the point.
The Vitals is a holistic approach to the machine, and its logic explains why it is included with every maintenance service—how long it takes, how much it costs, and what service it involves. There is no cheaper, faster alternative. Every few years the vehicle will need additional work (a tune-up, fresh coolant, 12V battery test, etc…) but these are discrete service points, not overarching care.
In responding to the question “How much is your oil change?” one shop owner explained his approach:
“I tell them we don’t offer an oil change. I mean, of course we change oil, but we do it along with a comprehensive service. If the customer replies that another shop can do it for less, I explain that the time and the cost of the service is always the same, no matter where it’s performed. So if another shop says they can do it for less, then I wonder what it is that they simply aren’t doing.”