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My car is due for its 30,000 mile major maintenace.

One dealership wants $450, the other wants $300 to do the 30K maintenace. So what exactly does that involve?

From Honda's webpage, a 30K service on a 2000 Accord automatic (not sure what you have) would include the following items - normal and severe schedules are identical at 30K

Services to be performed:
Replace engine oil, filter and drain plug washer
Replace air filter with Genuine Honda Parts.
Check/adjust fluid levels.
Inspect and rotate tires.
Road test.
Inspect wiper blades.
Inspect belts, hoses, fuel lines and exhaust system.
Inspect front and rear brake assemblies.
Inspect steering system, suspension components, alignment and parking brake.

So, they basically want to charge you $300 for an oil change, new air filter, and tire rotation. Oh, plus someone will give your car a 2 minute road test to see that everything works. Then he'll spend 5 minutes looking it over.

My advice would be to instead focus on the real maintenance - oil change/air filter/tire rotation, and do the inspection yourself.

Assuming you aren't interested in changing your own oil, all you need the dealership to do is a $25 oil/filter change. Decide if the tires need to be rotated (when were they done last?) and they'll probably rotate them for $10-$20. Buy the $15 air filter and put it in yourself if they charge for installation (they shouldn't, it's a 30 second job). Worst case, you're out $50-60 bucks.

As for the other items, it's pretty much common sense:
fluids - check the manual for instructions/locations
wiper blades - replace them when they don't wipe clean anymore
belts - are they tattered or loose or squealing? - if so replace them
hoses - see anything leaking/disconnected/deteriorating?
fuel line - do you smell gas around the car?
exhaust - do you hear any exhaust leaks? The sound will be a bit louder
f/r brakes - Honda pads will squeal when they need replacing, is stopping smooth and even?
steering - is the wheel steady at speed and easy to turn?
suspension - any strange sounds going over bumps?
alignment - does the car pull left or right on level roads?
parking brake - it's self adjusting if you use it regularly when parking

At only 30K miles, I wouldn't expect you to have any serious problems, unless the car is 10 years old. If you see something unusual, take it in and get it attended to.

There's really nothing major about this 30K service, other than the major profit for the service department. The parts (oil, oil filter, air filter) may cost them a total of $20, and the mechanic may spend an hour with on your car. For this they want the ridiculous sum of $300-$450 dollars? I can think of better uses for my money, thanks...

Just my $.02

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