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Would You Buy a Lifetime Service for Your Car?

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I just got back from our local tire and service center. They do a nice job on the few things I have needed done on my car to date. They changed the oil, replaced the oil filter, checked the fluids, rotated and balanced the wheels, checked the tire pressure and investigated a warning light for me.

I only paid for the oil change and new oil filter.

Years ago, in August of 2008, my spouse paid $68 for this facility to rotate and balance the wheels for the life of my car. Little did they know what they were getting into! We are one of those families who keep their cars for 10+ years. I intend to own this one for most of the rest of my life, so I may be hanging onto it for the next 15 to 20 years.

For the past 5 years, I have had my oil changed about twice a year. Each time I also had them rotate and balance the wheels. So far, based on the initial $68, it has cost $6.80 a time for this service.

Since I like to have the tires rotated (I think it extends the life of the tire and tires are expensive), this seems like a good deal to me. By the time I finish with this car, my tire rotation service will have averaged around $68/40 tire rotations = $1.70 per visit.

Should we have purchased this life time tire rotation service?

For me I think it was worth the price, although I initially was a bit surprised and dismayed that my spouse had purchased it. When he bought it, the following went through my mind:

Will prices for other services go up causing us to not use this facility?

This particular service center has not raised the price of their oil change in the 5 years since he bought the tire rotation service.

Will this place stay in business long enough to get our money’s worth?

The facility is profitable and likely to remain in business. So far so good anyway 😀

Is this service that necessary?

Scott Memmer Edmunds contributor  thinks so:

“All that parallel parking. All those three-point turns. With each turn of the steering wheel, pressure is brought to bear on the front tires. (This is even more accentuated in front-wheel-drive cars, where the front wheels also supply the main motive power for the vehicle.) Resistance causes friction, which in turn produces heat. The result? The front tires wear quicker than the rears. Because of this, it’s necessary to rotate the tires front-to-rear several times during their life cycle to 1) equalize tread wear and 2) maximize the life of the tires.”

Tires are expensive! They start at around $100 per tire. If I can extend the life of the ones I own, I’m all for that.

Can we do this service ourselves?

Yes, absolutely. However, it would be a pain. Our garage isn’t large enough to move freely around all 4 sides of the car. Our driveway is gravel, making it difficult to get a solid base for a jack and uncomfortable on which to work. Plus, we probably wouldn’t do it nearly as often as we should.

How much would it cost just to pay as we go?

A quick check on Walmart.com shows they now charge 10.50 for rotation and balancing – per tire, so that would be $42 per visit.

Why is this company offering this service?

Most people don’t keep their cars more than a few years. Companies can make money on these folks because they don’t use the service long enough.

As evidenced by me, going back to the same service center for 5 years, it is a great way to buy customer loyalty!

I hear all of you frugal saver guys out there! Yes, we could change our own oil, put our own new oil filter in, check our own fluids and rotate our own wheels (we would be hard pressed to re-balance them however). We could be more frugal, but we are both in our sixties, have other things we want to do with our time and can afford this little luxury.

Would you (have you) purchase a lifetime rotation/balance service? Is it a rip off or a good deal?

Money Save Money

AUTHOR Derek

My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.

23 Comments

  1. At 60 years old I would say it’s time you deserve some services in life. Hell at 41 I would say I deserve a few services.

    • Thanks, but I don’t consider advancing age as an excuse to practice entitlement! Still, though, having the money available at least gives us choices..

  2. I ‘thought’ I had one of those with oil changes where I bought my car. Local reputable Ford dealer, brand new car. I did manage to get three changes free. Then the dealership changed hands; same place, same people, different name. Guess what? They no longer honor the ‘lifetime free oil changes’. Annoying!!!!

  3. We buy our tires from Discount Tire and they offer lifetime rotation and balancing at no cost as part of your purchase. Service and prices are always good, too.

    • There are no Discount Tires in our part of the country. I miss them!

      A tire rotation alone doesn’t cost anything like $10 per tire, even here, though.

  4. I would go for this in a heartbeat. I hate paying for these services over time. I’d rather give them a good amount up front and never have to worry about a bill or anything. Plus it would encourage better maintenance on my part. With everything already paid for, I’d definitely go in more often!

    I’d say the $68 was totally worth it!

  5. I usually get my tires from Discount Tire like Money Beagle does and they offer this. If you “decline” it, it doesn’t affect the price,so why not take it. I wouldn’t go above an pay for it because I know how to rotate my tires anyway. You can’t balance tires unless you have the right equipment.

  6. It’d be great if I knew I would be consistent about going back to them. For $68 though it would be worth giving it a try. I know some people who have paid over $1,000 with a car purchase to have lifetime oil and tire changes. The only issue is if they don’t go as often as they should then the plan expires.

  7. Maintaining proper tire pressure is vital to passenger safety through better braking, vehicle stability and road handling. It also leads to longer tire life, greater fuel economy and a better ride.

  8. Good consideration of the business’ potential for closing. We had lifetime and ours closed–what a mess.

  9. I don’t know of any places in our area that offer lifetime guaurantees, but it sounds like a good plan if you do keep your car for a long time.

  10. If it would save me quite some bucks to have a lifetime service, then I would probably go with it.

    • I guess that depends on how often you want your tires rotated and balanced and whether you have a reliable company close at hand.

  11. If I have extra money for this i would go for it, and I will also get insurance for sure.


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