30K Service Rip-Off - Why A Mazda CX-5’s 30K Service Can Cost Half What A Similar Crossover’s Does
Continuing our analysis of mainstream crossover maintenance costs, Torque News recently contrasted the 30K service visit prices for similar two-row crossovers. We asked dealerships in person and on the phone what the cost would be for a 30,000-mile service and found that some brands’ dealers charge twice what we actually paid for a 2018 Mazda CX-5’s 30K appointment.
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What Is A 30K Service Visit?
The 30K service visit is unique. Almost all mainstream vehicles require a longer than typical list of items to be checked or changed during this visit. Since the vehicle is still under the full warranty, most owners feel obligated to use a dealer’s service center instead of a more affordable local garage.
A 30K service visit usually requires the following things:
Oil and oil filter change
Brake Fluid change or inspection
Engine air filter element inspection/change
Cabin air filter change
Emissions system check
CV Joint boot inspection
Tire alignment check/ alignment
Proof By Single Example
My wife brought her Mazda 2018 CX-5 crossover in for the 30K service recently. She is not known to the dealership, it was her first visit there. She used no coupons and no discounts were applied. The total cost of the 30K service was just $258.13. Amazingly, the service technician noted that the air filters were not yet in need of changing, so that saved some money off the $384 that 495 Mazda in Lowell usually charges for a 30K service. You can see the receipt above.
Why So Cheap? No Transmission Fluid Changes Nor Spark Plugs Changes
The Mazda CX-5 does not require a transmission fluid change at 30K. This is now the norm. The top-selling Honda CR-V does not need a transmission fluid change until 90K. The Subaru Forester is also designed with a sealed automatic transmission, and it does not require service at all. This is a savings of about $150 in dealership charges every 30K miles compared to older designs. But only if the dealership doesn't still charge you for the un-needed service.
The same is true of spark plugs. Modern vehicles no longer need plug changes every 30K. Many are rated to more than 100K miles before they need to be replaced.
When we visited a Boston-area dealership of a different brand and asked about the price of a 30K service for a similar crossover, we were quoted $499 before taxes. We looked at the list of work to be performed and found that “Automatic transmission fluid change” was listed as one of the needed items (See image). So we spoke to the service advisor. He told us, “We still charge for that because it is rare to see an old automatic transmission anymore.” Confused, we clarified for a second time that the dealer (not a Mazda dealer) still charges for this, even though the service is not performed. We were told that is correct.
We assumed that this must just be some sort of error. So we phoned the next closest Boston-area dealer of that same brand and asked the service department what the cost was for a 30K service. We were quoted $550.
30K Service Rip-Off
A 30K service is a profit opportunity some dealers seen unwilling to pass up. Did we find the only honest dealer in America when we visited 495 Mazda in Lowell, Mass.? Perhaps. Look in your owners manual and see what service the manufacturer of your vehicle requires at 30,000 miles. Then, shop around by phone. Have a conversation with your local area dealers to ensure that only needed work will be performed and that they are not charging for work they will not do.
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If you are unable to find a reasonable local dealer, we suggest having only the work done that may affect the engine warranty at the dealer. Then, shop locally for the remainder of the needed items like tire rotation, brake fluid changes, alignment, and filters. You can even ask your local mechanic to use brand-specific parts to keep the car under the warranty coverage.
If you feel that you have been taken advantage of during a recent dealer visit for routine service, please tell us about it in the comments section below. Your experience may help save a fellow driver some money.
John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. John's focus areas are technology, safety, and green vehicles. In the 1990s, he was part of a team that built a solar-electric vehicle from scratch. His was the role of battery thermal control designer. For 20 years he applied his engineering and sales talents in the high tech world and published numerous articles in technical journals such as Chemical Processing Magazine. In 2008 he retired from that career to chase his dream of being an auto writer. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin
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