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I just bought a brand-new Mazda three months ago The...

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Dear Tom and Ray:



I just bought a brand-new Mazda 626 three months ago. The time will soon be
approaching for its first oil change. Like a mother about to send her baby
off to kindergarten, I want to make sure it's a good experience. The
dealership put out a heavy load of parental guilt telling me not to dare
take it to a "jiffy-on-the-spot" oil-change racket or to my own mechanic
because it wouldn't get the "Mazda guaranteed service" my car was bred to
expect.

Tell me, guys, are they full of it? Should I take it to the dealer until
the warranty runs out and then give my wallet a rest at the
"jiffy-on-the-spot" places? -- Sharon

TOM: In our opinion, the oil and filter you're likely to get from an
independent mechanic or a quick-oil-change place is essentially the same
quality as what you'd get at the dealership. And in fact, a lot of
independent shops buy their parts right from the dealerships, in which case
their stuff is exactly the same. So feel free to go wherever you want,
Sharon.

RAY: If you've had good experiences with the dealer, and his prices are
reasonable, you can take it there. That's certainly a convenient option,
because you can have your warranty work done at the same time.

TOM: But if you don't like the dealer's prices, his service or the coffee
in his waiting room, you should feel free to take the car someplace else
for your oil and filter changes. It's a simple job, and even the former
NASA engineers who work in the quick-oil-change places have a hard time
screwing it up (although I admit they do occasionally forget to tighten up
the drain plugs).

RAY: As long as you keep your receipt to show that the work was done, doing
it outside of the dealership will have no effect whatsoever on your
warranty.

TOM: But wherever you go, Sharon, I would sit next to the car and talk to
it in soothing tones during the oil change. And pat it gently on the
fender.

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