Last week I took my vehicle in for an oil change. Shortly after the service technician had driven my car into the service bay, he approached me in the waiting area. He said I needed a power steering fluid service. My power steering fluid was dark and that indicated it needed to be changed. They would drain the power steering fluid reservoir and then fill it with fresh fluid. It would take an extra fifteen minutes and cost $79. I knew for a fact that I had never had the power steering fluid replaced, but I told him I wasn’t prepared to spend that kind of money. Maybe next time. He said if I had it done now with the oil change, he would take $16 off the total bill. If I had it done later there would be no discount. I told him no thanks.
It never fails. I take my vehicle in for an oil change at my local quick lube, and a service tech tells me I need additional service: transmission service, radiator service, power steering service, fuel injector service, air filter replacement, or windshield wiper replacement. He’s just looking out for me, doesn’t want me to suffer the consequences of neglected maintenance. Maybe, but this is plain old up-selling. It’s an attempt to get more dollars out of each customer visit. I don’t doubt that the service tech gets some kind of a commission for each additional service he can sell.
After making some costly mistakes with this kind of thing a few years back, my policy now is to decline all such offers. That’s not to say I may not need the service that is suggested. It’s just that I prefer to confirm the need by consulting my vehicle maintenance records first. I may indeed require new wipers or a transmission service. If that’s the case, I check with my regular mechanic shop to see what they would charge to perform the service and compare that to what the quick lube offered before I proceed with the service. If I need an air filter or wiper blades, I buy them at Walmart and install them myself for a huge savings. Most of the time my records indicate that I don’t need the suggested service, and I avoid wasting money.Order True Prosperity: Your Guide to a Cash-Based Lifestyle at the special discount price of $6.00 per book. Free Shipping.
When I arrived back at the house after the oil change, I looked up the maintenance schedule for my vehicle in the owner’s manual. It tells me exactly what needs routine service and when. I checked up to 100,000 miles on the schedule (my vehicle has 47,000 miles on it) and could not find power steering fluid service listed as scheduled maintenance. A quick Google search of the web yielded no evidence that my vehicle would ever require a power steering fluid service. I suspected as much because no one had ever suggested such a maintenance service in all of the years I have owned vehicles, and every one of them has had power steering.
You work hard for your money. Protect it. Don’t let yourself be up-sold at the quick lube or anywhere else. Take the time to research your need for the suggested product or service before you agree to the purchase. You will find, as I have, that in most instances there is no immediate need for it.
K. C. Knouse is the author of True Prosperity: Your Guide to a Cash-Based Lifestyle, Double-Dome Publications, 224 pages