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Teletubbie

Is This Dealer Prepaid Maintenance Package Worth It?

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I just purchased a new 2009 RX350 and the dealer offered me a maintenance package for $1200 that covers all scheduled maintenance for 4 years/50K. This package is dealer exclusive and not the one offered by Lexus which costs around $1900 for the similar coverage. This dealer package is valid for service only at our two local Lexus dealers (both have the same ownership.)

I have until Monday to purchase it. I plan to keep this car for a long time and would like to know if this maintenace package is worth it?

Thanks.

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Personally I would say no.

These are uncertain times. What if one or both of the dealers go out of business? What if you have to move?

Your RX will probably require oil changes, filters and car washes for the first 90 thousand miles. Thats about it.

You should self-insure your maintenance. You have already made a great decision in purchasing a low maintenance vehicle...the odds on you needing extended maintenance coverage is low.

Just doing quick and dirty figuring:

50k miles = 10 services - first service free = 9 services.

Figure a high estimate of $100 per maintenance ( averaging in the occasional air filter and cabin filter) and you are only looking at $900. You probably won't need brakes. Plugs are due at 60k if I remember correctly. Timing belt isn't due until 90k. This is a sucker bet. I wouldn't do this unless it was $250.

If you really feel like covering your ride because you are going to keep it awhile, there is a forum sponsor name of Toby Rivers who writes discounted factory Lexus and Toyota 100k mile extended warranties. People rave about him being "The Man" for this coverage. Search on Toby and you will find him. That would be a better purchase in my opinion.

Anyway:

Do you love your new car? Congrats!

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In addition to the excellent advice above, you should be using a local reputable independent shop for your maintenance. You will certainly save a lot of money over what the dealer charges and, most probably, have better quality work done. I rarely take a car to a dealer unless it is for warranty work or service that is already paid for.

In addition, each time you take the car to the dealer for routine service, they will inspect it. You will constantly be advised to buy overly expensive and not really needed services such as injector cleanings, transmission services, throttle body service, etc. You will be advised you need new brakes, for example, long before they are necessary. A good honest reputable independent shop will not do this unless the service is really justifiable and the cost will be much less. For example, last spring, Brahman Lexus in West Palm Beach emphasized to my wife we needed a new timing with only 70,000 miles on the car for $1185, while the car was there for a small warranty item. A few months ago they told us we needed to replace the breaks immediately even though the wear markers were not yet touching and the rotors were not scored. I can give you hundreds of other examples from the past thirty years.

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I don't have much to add to all the excellent advice above, except maybe learn to do the simple things yourself...unless you'd just rather let someone else do it.

I recently did the 10k miles oil/filter change on my wife's 09 RX350...it was an absolute piece of cake. I'm convinced I could do it in under 20 minutes the next time...maybe less than 10. The oil pan drain plug is VERY accessible and there are only two 10mm bolts securing the cover over the oil filter canister. If you've ever changed oil/filter on any vehicle, I'd say doing it on a Lexus RX350 is easier. And cost is minimal - I bought the filter cartridge at NAPA...it was about $5 and the oil (Mobil 1 5W30 FULL synthetic) was about $5/qt, so I did the job for less than $40...less than half what a dealership would probably charge.

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Figure a high estimate of $100 per maintenance ( averaging in the occasional air filter and cabin filter) and you are only looking at $900. You probably won't need brakes. Plugs are due at 60k if I remember correctly. Timing belt isn't due until 90k. This is a sucker bet. I wouldn't do this unless it was $250.

Ever taken your car to the Lexus dealer? Lexus dealer service is way more than that. A 5k mile service at my dealer is almost $200 (oil change and tire rotation) and you would easily get up past $1200 in 50k miles.

I just checked my service records, here's what I spent, keep in mind my car is an '03, and prices have gone up since then:

5K Free

10K $130

15k $451.99

20K $130

25K $146.17

30K $407.00

35K $239.74

40K $146.14

45K $391.51

50K $198.90

Total: $2,241.45

If the deal they are offering you includes brakes, its even more I probably had $500 worth of brakes in that time, that is just scheduled routine maintenance.

The questions I would have for the dealer are:

-Does this include all maintenance reccomended by Lexus in the service manual at 5k intervals?

-Does it include brakes?

-Can I finance it with the car?

-Can I apply for a pro-rated refund if I don't use all the service?

The question you need to ask yourself is:

-Am I going to be using the dealer for service or am I willing to spend more time and effort with an independent mechanic to save some money?

If you have to come out of pocket $1200 I might think about it more, but if it covers all the Lexus required maintenance for 50k miles, you can wrap it into the financing or lease, and you would be apt to use the dealer anyways I would buy it.

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Figure a high estimate of $100 per maintenance ( averaging in the occasional air filter and cabin filter) and you are only looking at $900. You probably won't need brakes. Plugs are due at 60k if I remember correctly. Timing belt isn't due until 90k. This is a sucker bet. I wouldn't do this unless it was $250.

Ever taken your car to the Lexus dealer? Lexus dealer service is way more than that. A 5k mile service at my dealer is almost $200 (oil change and tire rotation) and you would easily get up past $1200 in 50k miles.

Glad you asked! Yes...I have owned 3 RXs and took all of them to the dealer at one point or another.

Frankly, they must see you coming...no offense man, but damn. I get coupons regularly (typically just under $50) for oil changes and service at our local dealer so occasionally I will have the wife take the car to them to save myself the effort. Plus, she enjoys the experience and the lounge area. /shrug Go figure.

Discount tire rotates and balances my tires for me, for free I might add, because they are the Southwest Airlines of Tire dealers. They get all my tire business. I do oil and filter changes myself for the most part. My first trip to Lexus for service after the 1k and 5k free service is the 30k service, and I let them know that I change the cabin and air filters myself.

The car requires oil changes and filters for the first 50k miles. I don't know what they were doing for you that would run up those kinds of bills. $200 for a cabin filter? No. My wife can change that with the PDF instructions. $75 to swap my data disc for the Nav after paying $295 for the disc? No. My cat can change a DVD.

Additionally, I can guarantee you that when the maintenance is on their dime, there will be no tendancy to replace air or cabin filters or brakes early. They will read you the fine print on their "warranty" on pad and rotor thickness...right up until you have 50,001 miles: then that junk will need changing immediately.

The Lexus is a great car with low maintenance requirements. This "warranty" takes advantage of that and covers you during the lowest maintenance years. They won't have to cover brakes, plugs, timing belt, serpentine belt or any other high dollar maintenance item, and they only have to change the cabin and engine filter at 30k...one time.

I stand by my earlier assertion, this is a sucker bet.

In this economy, with the Auto industry in the state it is in including Toyota posting a first-ever loss, the lesson of Circuit City needs to be learned. Do not opt for the expensive warranty provided by a company that could possibly go out of business.

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...but I know guys that would have trouble with installing a TP holder in a bathroom.

Randy, I believe that you have to turn in your "He-Man ID Card" when you have to get your wife to change the TP or replace light bulbs! :D

I think you get a "warning" when you don't change your own oil... ;)

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...I think you get a "warning" when you don't change your own oil... ;)

Shouldn't there be a "warning light" when the roll gets in that danger zone when sit down and look at it and think "OH oh... Houston, we have a problem! :lol:

Don't think I don't know what you are doing Randy...I know you are trying to stay ahead of me on postcount! :chairshot:

:D

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OP here. This maintenance package covers all the scheduled services up to 50K/4 years as recommended by Lexus in the owner's guide. It does not cover wear and tear items such as brake pads but the air filter and cabin filter is covered.

I try to take my cars to independent mechanics but the service seems to be always a hit or a miss. This being my first Lexus I am leaning towards taking my RX to the dealer for all the scheduled services. Hence I am trying to price this package and compare it to the expenses I would have paid the dealer if I had done pay-as-you-go for all the scheduled services up to 50K. If it is a significant savings by prepaying, then I may as well buy it now. I don't have any hard numbers what would be the dealer charges for pay-as-you-go services upto 50K for a RX, but looking at SW03ES's numbers, it seems like a good savings by going with the prepaid package.

I am a frugal and pretty hands on guy. I have changed oil on my cars, even replaced a transmission gear sensor, and exchanged tranmission oil on my Honda Odyssey, but due to family committments, I am not very prompt on the service schedule. Another incentive by prepaying I will be more committed to keeping up with the scheduled service.

I am not overly concerned with the dealer going out-of-business in the 4-year timeframe. Anything is possible, there are no guarantees in life; unfortunately if it happens, so be it so and move on.

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Billy,

Nobody's seen me coming. Prices vary depending on area, you live in Utah and I live in metro Washington, DC. Big difference in terms of cost of living, etc. There are 5 local dealers here, prices the same at all of them, and nothing has ever been done to my car that was not called for in the factory maintenance schedule. There is certainly more called for in the first 50k miles than oil changes, read your maintenance schedule. Even at Toyota it would be more expensive than what you are saying here, and the local dealers don't send out coupons.

Even my independent Lexus mechanic I use now charges $90 for an oil change and tire rotation (5k service). I have a reciept right here for a lube center who changed the oil one time for $60.

I have zero interest in doing maintenance myself, I work way too much to spend what little free time I have doing that. I've always been very happy to pay the dealer to maintain the car.

Teletubbie,

Ask the dealer for the cost of a 5k, a 15k, and a 30k service. Call the service department yourself and just ask so they won't know you're thinking about buying the prepaid service package. There are basically three packages, 5k, 15k and 30k, each is a more involved and more expensive package depending on the model. Here's how it works

5k-5k package

10k-5k package

15k-15kpackage

20k-5k package

25k-5k package

30k-30k package

35k-5k package

40k-5k package

45k-15k package

50k-5k package

So based on their prices, you can extrapolate what the cost of maintenance will be for 50k miles. Its going to be more than $1200 whatever the area I bet.

I always enjoyed using the dealer. I had a good relationship with my service rep and whenever I had any hint of a warranty issue it was always dealt with immediately with no hassle because I was such a good customer. On top of that, I enjoyed the experience. Its very quick and painless. Always get a loaner. I never had to spend more than 10 minutes in a dealership at a time. Now that my car is older and out of warranty, and my service guy is gone I'm content to trade a little more time for savings with the independent guy I found, but when I replace mine with a new...or newer under warranty car I'll probably start using the dealer again.

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Billy,

Nobody's seen me coming. Prices vary depending on area, you live in Utah and I live in metro Washington, DC. Big difference in terms of cost of living, etc. There are 5 local dealers here, prices the same at all of them, and nothing has ever been done to my car that was not called for in the factory maintenance schedule. There is certainly more called for in the first 50k miles than oil changes, read your maintenance schedule. Even at Toyota it would be more expensive than what you are saying here, and the local dealers don't send out coupons.

Ut oh...assumptions are never good.

I fled from West Los Angeles/Santa Monica area to Utah 3 years ago, on purpose and for many reasons, one of which being cost of living. That said, I believe that I can relate to the old "Cost of Living" argument. Been there, got the t-shirt. I am not as ignorant of you "big-city folk" and your "big-city ways" as you seem to think. :)

Again, assuming that I didnt have my maintenance manual open while replying is also incorrect. Sitting right here.

I guess I am failing to see what huge thing I missed? Tire rotation? Covered that. Cabin filter and engine air filter? Covered it (one each). "Checking chassis bolts"? Please. Mine actually has a few oddball hybrid-only items, but both my RX300's were similar in scope.

RX400h maintenance schedule

Do this at 5k, 10k, 20k, 25k, 35k, 40k and 50k.

o Replace engine oil and oil filter

o Rotate tires

o Visually inspect brake pads/discs

o Road-test vehicle

o Inspect the following:

____Axle shaft boots

____Nuts and bolts on chassis

____Ball joints and dust covers

____Rear axle shaft flange bolt torque

____Engine air filter

____Steering linkage and boots

At 15k and 45k

o Replace engine oil and oil filter

o Inspect engine air filter

o Inspect nuts and bolts on chassis

o Rotate tires

o Visually inspect brake pads/discs

o Road-test vehicle

o Inspect the following:

____Axle shaft boots

____Ball joints and dust covers

____Body

____Brake lines and hoses

____Engine and inverter coolant

____Exhaust pipes and mountings

____Rack and pinion assembly

____Rear axle shaft flange bolt torque

____Steering linkage and boot

at 30k

o Replace engine oil and oil filter

o Measure brake pad thickness and

rotor runout

o Replace air conditioner filter

o Inspect nuts and bolts on chassis

o Replace brake fluid

o Replace engine air filter

o Rotate tires

o Road-test vehicle

o Inspect the following:

____Axle shaft boots

____Ball joints and dust covers

____Body

____Brake lines and hoses

____Engine and inverter coolant

____Exhaust pipes and mountings

____Fuel lines and connections, fuel

tank band and fuel tank vapor

vent system hoses

____Fuel tank cap gasket

____Rack and pinion assembly

____Rear axle shaft flange bolt torque2

____Rear differential fluid

____Steering linkage and boots

____Transmission fluid

I try to take my cars to independent mechanics but the service seems to be always a hit or a miss. This being my first Lexus I am leaning towards taking my RX to the dealer for all the scheduled services.

I don't blame you. If you don't know a great independent, stay with the dealer.

Opinions vary as you can see...and I hope there is wisdom on both sides. Depending on how you manage your money and handle DIY tasks, you really could go either way and be ok with either decision.

One last disturbing question tho: what happens if you wreck your car? Does the maintenance contract follow your replacement car? Or are you out of luck?

Here is another thread on maintenance costs...

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OK... is there a correlaton between the number of your posts and my I.Q.?? :unsure:

Yessss...the higher my postcount the lower your IQ. The first causes the second :D

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Ut oh...assumptions are never good.

I fled from West Los Angeles/Santa Monica area to Utah 3 years ago, on purpose and for many reasons, one of which being cost of living. That said, I believe that I can relate to the old "Cost of Living" argument. Been there, got the t-shirt. I am not as ignorant of you "big-city folk" and your "big-city ways" as you seem to think. :)

I never said you were ignorant, I was simply saying you can't compare what something costs in Utah to what it costs here. You obviously thought that you could because you said they "saw me coming" and that oil changes at your dealer were $50.

Again, assuming that I didnt have my maintenance manual open while replying is also incorrect. Sitting right here.

I guess I am failing to see what huge thing I missed? Tire rotation? Covered that. Cabin filter and engine air filter? Covered it (one each). "Checking chassis bolts"? Please. Mine actually has a few oddball hybrid-only items, but both my RX300's were similar in scope.

You didn't miss anything, the ES calls for a transmission fluid replacement every 30k and a brake fluid flush every 15k which apparently the RX does not, but thats the only difference.

Thats the services that were done, and thats what dealers here charge for them.

I never said dealer service was cheap, its definately not. You won't get any dealer maintenance package for less than $100 though as you had originally said.

One last disturbing question tho: what happens if you wreck your car? Does the maintenance contract follow your replacement car? Or are you out of luck?

Thats a really good question...

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Ask the dealer for the cost of a 5k, a 15k, and a 30k service. Call the service department yourself and just ask so they won't know you're thinking about buying the prepaid service package. There are basically three packages, 5k, 15k and 30k, each is a more involved and more expensive package depending on the model. Here's how it works

I called the service department and got the exact amounts for each scheduled service. All services at 5K intervals upto 50K are the same except at 30K. The 5K services are nothing but oil-lube-filter and tire rotation. The 15K is the same but they clean air filter, but the charge is same as 5K.

The first dealer quote me $172 for the 5K service and the second Lexus dealer quoted $187 for the same service (both local.) I think both of them are high for a simple oil-filter job and tire rotation. I asked the break down for 5K: $115 (labor for 1 hour) + $66 parts + $6 tax.

I am not sure now if prepaying is really a great deal even if I get the services at the dealer. So I called the Finance Manager to decline this deal. He said right now is the deadline to sign-up so that he can get it in Janurary month's accounting. He talked me in to purchasing it and I can cancel it anytime in the first 60 days for a full refund. So I just took it. To top that, the FM challenged that the numbers that I got from the service department are inaccurate. According to him, the 30K service will cost $750 and 15K will cost $350. He said he can provide me the service receipts from other customers. He asked me to call the service department and check with a different service advisor. The total according to him will be greater than $2500 if I pay as we go. To top that, he told me that the package is good for 45K and not 50K as I originally thought (perhaps I mistook the first time he told me.)

For people who were asking what if the car gets totalled or you sell the car before the package expiry, you can get prorated refund for the unused portion.

So here is the costs if I pay as we go:

5k-Free

10k-$172

15k-$172

20k-$172

25k-$172

30k-$425

35k-$172

40k-$172

45k-$172

TOTAL: $1629

I am seriously thinking of calling him and cancelling it. What do you think?

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Man...I tell you.

Generally speaking, the worst guy in any dealership is the Finance Manager. He is the one who sells you all the extra high-markup crap like undercoating, Lo-Jack, extended warranties, scotch guard on the seats...

I have a healthy dose of skepticism and wonder why they would want to cut their profit by a quarter or half? The finance guy going from the traditional role of profit padder to customer advocate makes me nervous and my BS alarm to sound. :)

Based on the real numbers you have and putting my own bias aside, it sounds like it may pay off for you.

Personally, my experience with time-shares, service warranties for electronics and prepaid legal fees leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth for these kinds of programs. I guess it is sort of like Costco where you have to pay a fee to realize savings. Difference is, if you don't use it, you are only out $50.

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One last thing to consider, if you dont do the service at Lexus you will in no way be considered as a customer loyalty candidate. Even if you buy the parts from Lexus.... The folks that have had things fail right after warranty and did all service at Lexus will generally(from what I have seen in the forums) get good will assistance in their difficulties. It is a toss, but in my case I lost when my transmission failed after warranty....

Personally I still believe as most, their service costs are outrageous and additionally substandard in quality. A good indepent that works on Toyota Lexus vehicles exclusively seems to be better at reducing costs, and additionally sees a lot of the recurant problems on higher mileage vehicles. His fix time is quicker and if he is good, of better quality....

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Yeah the service is expensive, no doubt about it. $172-$189 is right what they charge here. The 15k is a larger maintenance than the 5k on my ES at least...

To me though the $189 wasn't all that bad. I dropped the car off the night before and got a loaner, they did the service and I came back at my leisure to pick it up. Had I let them it would have been nice and clean and waiting for me.

To replicate this with an independent it would have cost $40 for a rental car and $25 to have the car cleaned up inside and out, when you deduct $65 from $180 you get to $115, so my independent charges me $90, so I'm only saving $25, plus it costs me an hour of my time now I have to sit around a dingy garage...

I mean...the car is getting older and I'll take the savings now, but if my service rep hadn't left I'd still use the dealer.

You can negotiate the cost of the package too. Call them back and say you'll take it for $1000 or you're going to cancel.

I have a healthy dose of skepticism and wonder why they would want to cut their profit by a quarter or half? The finance guy going from the traditional role of profit padder to customer advocate makes me nervous and my BS alarm to sound.

Because they're guaranteeing your business for 50,000 miles and he's getting paid completely upfront for work they don't have to do now. Makes perfect sense why they would do it...

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Yeah the service is expensive, no doubt about it. $172-$189 is right what they charge here. The 15k is a larger maintenance than the 5k on my ES at least...

To me though the $189 wasn't all that bad. I dropped the car off the night before and got a loaner, they did the service and I came back at my leisure to pick it up. Had I let them it would have been nice and clean and waiting for me.

To replicate this with an independent it would have cost $40 for a rental car and $25 to have the car cleaned up inside and out, when you deduct $65 from $180 you get to $115, so my independent charges me $90, so I'm only saving $25, plus it costs me an hour of my time now I have to sit around a dingy garage...

I mean...the car is getting older and I'll take the savings now, but if my service rep hadn't left I'd still use the dealer.

You can negotiate the cost of the package too. Call them back and say you'll take it for $1000 or you're going to cancel.

I have a healthy dose of skepticism and wonder why they would want to cut their profit by a quarter or half? The finance guy going from the traditional role of profit padder to customer advocate makes me nervous and my BS alarm to sound.

Because they're guaranteeing your business for 50,000 miles and he's getting paid completely upfront for work they don't have to do now. Makes perfect sense why they would do it...

I just bought a RX350. Dealer asked how many miles I do per year - answer is 'few' - several cars and we also bike, and don't drive to work - and he said he would have offered the pre-paid plan but it only suited people who did much mileage each year, otherwise not worth it. I didn't think of asking where the 'break-even' was, but I generally do not 'go' for those 'deals': the dealer is in the business to make money, not lose any, statistically speaking.

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