Last weekend’s snow may be the reminder we all need to make sure our vehicles are up to the winter weather ahead.

If you haven’t already, it’s time to make sure your tires are good and properly inflated, engine oil is changed, engine coolant is good and battery is tested. It is also important to make sure the battery terminals are clean and tight, and that all vehicle lights are working. How are the wiper blades?

While service is good, sometimes we are offered maintenance we don’t want. Car dealerships and repair shops call it “selling service.”

S.B. stopped by The Garage last week with a story about his 2007 Toyota Corolla. The car has body damage to a front fender from a one-car accident. S.B. isn’t ready to part with the $500 insurance deductible right now and the car is OK to drive, so he is holding off on the body work for now.

rusty, car, rust, vehicle

(credit: CBS)

passat, damage, gordys garage

(credit: CBS)

Neither of these pictures is of the S.B.-mobile, but we’ve all seen lots of cars like these on the road: A little dinged up, but still safe to drive.

S.B. says he recently got an offer from a local Toyota dealership for a $14.95 oil change, so he took in the slightly-smashed Corolla for an oil change.

He says the service writer walked around his car “like a used car salesman doing an appraisal.” When the guy was done checking out the car, he not only wanted S.B. to get the body damage repaired, but also to rotate the tires, have a multi-point inspection by a mechanic, new wiper blades and a new $50 (installed) cabin air filter.

It is certainly OK for shops to point out what you vehicle should have. But you decide when the work will be done. To his credit, S.B. just took the “loss-leader” oil change and a $10 tire rotation and hit the road.

The lesson here is a good one: it is OK to say “no” to service. You don’t want to take chances with things like brakes, steering and tires — particularly as winter looms ahead — but a cabin air filter can be cleaned with a shop vacuum and reused during economic hard times. Wiper blades cleaned with alcohol will probably show improvement.

Cabin, Air, Filter, Gordys Garage

(credit: CBS)

The bottom line is that if you are ever really in doubt about service, it never hurts to get a second opinion … for free.

Comments (4)
  1. barbara passeri says:

    i don’t get what the big deal is about the scanner at the airport; i have a pacemaker and must be hand searched, but comming back to mn. in july i wa able to be body scanned it was so much better than by hand. if you have nothing to hide why the big brouhaha?

    1. Me says:

      What do scanners at the airport have to do with the above story? The above story is about repairing your car. Please comment on the appropriate articles.

  2. Shawn says:

    Barbara I agree with you 100%, if you have nothing to hide then what is the big deal. If another plane get’s bombed I bet they all change their tune. I have an fake left hip and I have been patted down many times and I could care less. It isn’t like they are doing it in a sexual manner. I am sure the person checking the scans isn’t sitting there laughing at what they see, it isn’t like superman and his x-ray vision. Get over it, it is what has to be done now to protect the people that fly and i say do whatever it takes.

  3. FirstGear Garage says:

    Want to save 50% or more on car repair? Check out FirstGear Garage. MN’s only Do-It-Yourself car repair center. We can order parts for you and have them here when you arrive. Heated garage makes winter repair comfortable. Never turned a wrench? No problem. We have online repair manuals and more. Call today 952 406 8002 or visit us at