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Columns: Boomer Bucks
Barbara Mlotek Whelehan   Expert: Barbara Mlotek Whelehan
Boomer Bucks
Saving money is the in thing these days. But some forms of extreme saving can be just plain gross.
Boomer Bucks

Getting the best deal
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So I take it to the Honda dealer for an oil change, hoping to get a refreshing break from the sales pitches.

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The service guy said it would take anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half for the oil change. Did I want to wait for it? I told him simply that I didn't have alternate transportation, and that I could not stay for an hour and a half. I was there during my lunch hour, which lasts an hour, not 90 minutes. If he thought it would take longer than an hour, I would have to come back another time or go to the quick-oil-change joint.

So after making a few inquiries, the service technician informed me that he would have my car back to me within the hour, but the next time I come in, I should make arrangements to leave the car for half a day. At that point I'll be due for the 30,000 mile service, he said, which involves an inspection of every conceivable moving part of the vehicle as well as an oil change, brake fluid exchange, new transmission fluid, four-wheel tire alignment, tire balance and rotation, and a complimentary car wash for $439.94 plus tax and waste disposal fees.

I bought the car with 20,000 miles on it and didn't feel inclined to invest this much in a future inspection and glorified oil change within six months of purchase. But the oil change that day was performed within the hour, and I filled out a card that acknowledged the service "knocked my socks off."

When I got home, I called the used-car salesman who sold me the car, and he said that my car was a certified vehicle and had already received a complete check just before I bought it. I don't need that service until the mileage hits 45,000, he advised me. (I have to add a note here that my purchase experience at that dealership was completely pressure-free and easily the most pleasant car-purchase experience I ever had. And I'm not getting paid to say this.)

Last week I got a coupon in the mail for oil-change service at some Paradise tire shop near where I live. The advertised special includes an oil change plus filter for $9.95 (regular price $24.95). I plan to redeem the coupon because I couldn't get it done more cheaply than that, even if I buy the oil and change it myself -- which is not actually a possibility due to the myriad complications involved in the whole process, not least of which is the uncomfortable prospect of getting oil under my fingernails. Eeewww.

Bankrate.com's corrections policy -- Posted: May 21, 2008
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