The older I get, the better I understand that in life, whether business or personal,
it’s not the big issues that pose the greatest hurdles; it’s generally the smaller ones. Why is that?
For example, when my wife hands over the honey-do list, rather than discussing the importance of the items on her list, I just seem to do them.
Or when the boss (wife ®“ boss are they not one in the same?) asks you to set up an appointment with someone who you know darn well is of no value in the overall process, you just do it rather than arguing about the details.
In the past, when that little sticker in the upper left hand corner of my windshield told me that my next oil change was due at 37,000 miles ®“ a mere 3,000 miles after the last one ®“ I just made the appointment and got the oil changed. No argument. I figure better safe then sorry, even though with today’s technology, the car manufacturers have extended oil change intervals way beyond 3,000 miles.
What did I think was going to happen? Was the engine was going to fall out?
The mindset of having to change your oil every 3,000 miles is a baby-boomer thing. It’s the result of good marketing (aka brainwashing) that has convinced us that it is the right thing to do to properly maintain your vehicle. It has become, you know, a just-do-it-and-don’t-argue kind of thing. Over the years, none of us has argued.
Recently, I purchased a new car (sorry, leased a new car) with a 45,000-mile, all-inclusive maintenance package. When it came time to pick the car up, I met with the service manager. He was a young guy with all the right certifications hanging on the wall. And he appeared to be pretty bright. He ran through all the details pertaining to the way my new vehicle needed to be serviced and what I needed to do if this happened or that happened. Finally, we came to the subject of oil changes.
“I know, I know,” I immediately blurted out. ®The service book says whatever it says, but you’d like to see me every 3,000 miles, right?®
“Wrong,” he shot back, with all the authority of a grizzled veteran service manager. ®We don’t want to see you until the little bell goes off.®
“The bell goes off?” I asked, questioning both his sanity and the value of all those certificates on the wall. ®Yeah,® he countered. ®The bell to remind you that you need an oil change will go off at 14,000 miles.®
“Fourteen thousand miles?” I asked. ®What is this ®“ a camel or a car? Any car worth its dipstick should have its oil changed every 3,000 miles. What’s wrong with you? Don’t you know you should just do it?®
Thirty minutes later, after he unloaded on me with both barrels, including the complete history of oil changes, I screamed “Uncle.”
And then, almost in passing, he said, “In addition, the manufacturer only pays for an oil change every 14,000 miles.” So, that was it, I concluded. The carmaker wants to pay for this ®all-inclusive maintenance® as infrequently as possible.
Driving home in my new ride was not as enjoyable as it should have been. Troubled by his obvious lack of vehicle care knowledge, I decided to show that 20-something service manager. I’ll go back at 14,000 miles, I thought, but only after having four oil changes ®ƒ just like I’m supposed to.
Did I dig my heels in on this issue because I have deep pockets when it comes to oil changes? No. Was it because it was the best thing to do for my new car? Not really, especially if the manufacturer was correct. When it came right down to it, it was because I had convinced myself ®“ rather, the oil industry had convinced me ®“ that I should just do it.
Wouldn’t it be a beautiful thing if the tire industry could invoke the same power of suggestion over all vehicle owners? “Check Your Air Pressure Every Week!” ®Have Your Tires Rotated Every 5,000 Miles!® Maybe we could get the oil people to stretch their interval to 5,000 miles, then your customers would want a tire rotation with their oil change!
What if drivers didn’t argue about tire care? What if they just did it?
You know, when it comes down to it, it’s that little sticker on the windshield that’s the culprit. And that’s not a bad thing. In fact, it could ®“ and should ®“ be used by tire dealers more often to remind customers when it is time to stop in and have their tires looked at.
We all do as much as we can to keep customers happy and make them lifetime customers. Sometimes, though, it is the simple things, the things we don’t think about, that make all the difference.
ARTICLES FROM THE PERFORMANCE TIRE & CUSTOM WHEEL GUIDE SUPPLEMENT MAY 2004