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Ask These Maintenance Questions Before Ever Buying a Car

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There are so many things to consider when buying a new car—especially at a time when gas prices are high and inflation has made everything else more expensive, too. And while you’re picturing yourself driving around town in your new vehicle, taking it in for service is probably not part of the fantasy. After all, it’s a new car, and, ideally, should be in tip-top shape when it leaves the dealership.

But, of course, that’s not necessarily the case—and even if it is, your vehicle will eventually require routine maintenance. That’s why it’s so important to ask about maintenance while you’re shopping for new vehicles. Here are some questions you should ask in order to make a fully informed purchase, courtesy of a guide from Consumer Reports (CR).

Questions about complimentary maintenance

Many new vehicles come with some sort of complimentary maintenance plan, but they’re not all created equal. In fact, if you don’t find out what this “free” service includes, it could end up costing you in the long run.

If a salesperson says your vehicle comes with “complimentary” maintenance, here are a few questions to ask:

  • Which services are free? (i.e. Oil change, tire rotation/balancing, a basic tune-up, etc)
  • How long does the complimentary maintenance policy’s coverage last?
  • How often are you entitled to the maintenance?
  • Is there a limit to the number of times you can take your vehicle in for free maintenance services?
  • Is this perk from the automaker, or the dealership?
  • Do you have to visit a particular dealership or location in order for your maintenance to be complimentary?

If your purchase does come with any version of a complimentary (or discounted) maintenance plan, do not make the purchase (or at least, leave the dealership) without getting that in writing, experts at CR stress—even if the salesperson tells you not to worry about it.

Questions about maintenance in general

Even if your new vehicle doesn’t come with a complimentary maintenance plan, you should still ask about what it takes to keep it running properly. Questions to ask include:

  • What services are needed on a regular basis in order to maintain the car?
  • How often should the vehicle be serviced? (Although that information is also in your owner’s manual, so confirm whatever the salesperson tells you.)
  • Is there’s anything unique to/specific about this vehicle in terms of maintenance?

Finally, the experts at CR recommend being wary of any type of maintenance package deal the salesperson offers you. These typically involve paying upfront for a few different services at regular intervals—and often aren’t good value.

Do your own math to figure out whether a package deal is worth it, or if you’d be better off getting services on an as-needed basis from the dealership or a local auto shop.

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