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Car Buying 101: Free Car Maintenance Plans

When car shopping, a person can become easily enticed or overwhelmed by all the different incentives dealerships promote in an attempt to drive sales. One incentive plan that has been very successful in the past years is the free maintenance options auto manufacturers offer to buyers. The idea of not having to worry about car maintenance and the security of knowing you’ll have factory trained mechanics may seduce some, but many buyers are still confused about the true value of these programs. In order to determine if you’re being offered the best plan, you should consider the following factors:

1) Free Car Maintenance will Vary by Dealership: Majority of the better free maintenance programs come from luxury car brands, like BMW, who was the first car manufacture to offer free scheduled maintenance. Some companies will offer more services with than plan than others, such as brake service, or replacing wiper blades. Due to the costs of maintaining a luxury vehicle, their free maintenance plan may offer more in savings than say, a free scheduled maintenance plan for Volkswagen.

2) Convenience: Free Maintenance plans offer the convenience of not having to barter from mechanic to mechanic for the cheapest price. Lots of car dealerships also offer several services with their maintenance plans to make it easier for the owner such as: loaner vehicles, automatic scheduling, after-hours drop-offs, and more. For majority of consumers the appeal is in knowing that you’ll have to do very little to actually maintain the vehicle once you buy.

3) Type of Coverage: In order to assess whether a pre-paid maintenance option is right for you, try to determine whether the coverage offered is enough for your vehicular needs. Some luxury brands like Audi, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus only offer free scheduled maintenance for the few visits after purchase, so the incentive may not be worth the actual cost of the car. Other brands like GM vehicles, Kia, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo offer more than just basic coverage, but don't still don’t include basic wear and tear items, like brakes. Very few brands offer comprehensive services, with the exception being Hyundai and Mini.

Maintenance is a major factor to consider when buying a car, but it’s not the only factor. While pre-paid maintenance plans may seem like a good idea on the sales floor, it’s important to consider whether this perk is enough to make a commitment. If you focus your search to the actual cost of the car, including sticker prices, tags, taxes, and fees, average maintenance costs, and your style of driving, picking out your new car will be a breeze!

Don’t forget about Fairfax Auto Repair’s Pre-Purchase Inspection, a great service that helps give you the little push you need to seize your new keys!

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