There are two paths to take in vehicle ownership.
The first path I’ll call the Manufacturer/Dealer model. On this path you buy or lease a new car every 3 to 5 years and follow the bare minimum of the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule.
The second path is the Long-Term Ownership model. On this path you buy a new or slightly used vehicle and plan to keep it for 10 or more years. While following this plan, a more rigorous maintenance schedule is performed.
What Are The Pros and Cons to Each?
Pros on the Manufacturer/dealer path include very predictable costs, an almost new vehicle all the time, and high reliability. Cons are costs: ongoing monthly payments and higher insurance costs, lack of freedom around unlimited mileage and vehicle modifications (on a lease).
Pros on the Long-term ownership model are lower costs; once the car is paid off, there is only maintenance and repair costs and insurance rates are lower. Cons include some unpredictability of cost due to breakdowns and slightly less reliability as the car ages: both of which can be minimized with excellent routine maintenance.
It is very important to know which path you are on because this will affect your choices when it comes to maintaining your vehicle.
If, from the moment you buy your car you know that you want it to last a long time, then your choices of maintenance will evolve around keeping your car in the best shape possible. These will include routine oil services, routine fluid replacements, and regular inspections to replace components before they wear and damage other parts, creating further costs and breakdowns.
Those are your two models. Which do you follow?