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The days of 3,000 mile oil changes are long gone. But regular maintenance is still key to not only your vehicle’s longevity but also keeping your long-term repair bills to a minimum. We sit down with Ontario Volkswagen’s, Service Manager, Jim Straley to learn how to get the most out of our cars in this iDriveSoCal Podcast.
Recording date – April 13, 2018 in Ontario, CA
Tom Smith: Welcome to iDriveSoCal, the podcast all about mobility from the automotive capitol of the United States – Southern California. I’m Tom Smith and today I’m at Ontario Volkswagen and joining me is Jim Straley, the service manager of Ontario Volkswagen. Jim has been not only in the Ontario area but specifically in the Ontario Auto Mall here for a number of years as the executive in charge of service departments and Jim is going to tell us all about your Volkswagen, your next Volkswagen, and what needs to be done to take care of it and make sure it’s running in tip top shape. So Jim thank you so much for joining me.
Jim Straley: Thank you. Good morning.
Tom Smith: Good morning. So you’ve been here with Ontario Volkswagen for a number of years. Cars these days, the technology in them is just absolutely crazy. I mean it’s one of the reasons why I started the iDriveSoCal podcast is appreciation for cars, but also in awe of the rolling technological wonders that they are. How do we take care of today’s Volkswagen? What really needs to be done, if anything? I mean wave a magic wand and it’s perfect, right?
Jim Straley: We wish. The primary part of taking care of your car is just the maintenance. The cars will tell us and tell you by its lights. If there’s something that needs to be addressed other than just normal maintenance. And maintenance intervals for Volkswagens are annually, one year, ten thousand miles. When your car comes in, we’ll change the oil, look the car over, give you a courtesy inspection, let you know what’s going on with the car. The goal for us is to keep it running just as well as it did from the day you bought it.
Tom Smith: The old school thought of, “Hey, I need to change the oil every 3,000 miles.” It’s pretty much out the window.
Jim Straley: Out the window.
Tom Smith: Okay.
Jim Straley: New technology and synthetic oils allow us to run cars much longer now on the engine oil. Ten thousand miles, one year. Using synthetic gives better lubrication interior. Top end oiling is better, stays cleaner longer, it’s designed to run in the hotter temperatures.
Tom Smith: Now here in Southern California, we are a car culture. We drive more than anybody. We have the worst traffic on the planet, right? So, we’re harder on our vehicles, but even so, the Volkswagen manufacturer says, “Hey, 10,000 is perfectly fine.” Is there ever a situation where I need to do maybe 5,000, 7,000, intense stop and go. I mean I’m not on the racetrack.
Jim Straley: No, in this area, no, ten thousand is fine. If you’re in the hotter climates, like up towards Palm Springs, 115, 120, maybe a little more often. But the oil that we use is good from zero degrees up to about 110.
Tom Smith: When was it the last that I needed to do 3,000? Has it been a long time?
Jim Straley: It’s been a long time. Yeah. 2001-2002.
Tom Smith: Wow, talking about 15, 16 years.
Jim Straley: Engine tolerances have gotten tighter. The materials have gotten better, we use multiple or bimetal materials now instead of just basic cast iron and solid pieces. So the closer tolerances, the higher, the better oiling systems, the better oils. As oil has improved, because the oil that you used 10 years ago wasn’t synthetic. It was just out of the ground crude oil. They added chemicals and such to make it a better oil, but now we’ve gone to synthetics.
Tom Smith: So technology in chemicals literally.
Jim Straley: Just in the way the oil is groomed, yeah.
Tom Smith: And what else do I need to worry about from a perspective of maintaining my vehicle? And we’re basically in the heart of spring now, right? I think the first day of spring was a couple of weeks ago or so. Is seasonal maintenance a thing of the past? Is it not really a factor here in Southern California?
Jim Straley: There are things that we should look at going into the spring is a good time, just like spring cleaning the house, there’s spring cleaning of your car. We have a filter that’s inside the air conditioning component, it’s called a pollen filter. As spring comes up, we all hear about pollen on the news in the weather reports, it’s a good time to get that filter changed. If you notice any type of odors in the A/C heating system that you’ve picked up over there, there’s ways to clean the interior components of the heating system so your car does remain still fresh. If your Volkswagen has a coolant interval change, every three years on most cars.
Tom Smith: Coolant meaning like the radiator fluid?
Jim Straley: Right, engine coolant. If you’re coming on a three year mark, the engine cooling is vital to keeping the car running correctly. Overheating of an engine is the most drastic form of failure you can have, even more so than if it ran out of oil. So the engine coolant should be checked. AC system going into the summer. We should have a specific temperature coming out of the vent. We usually look for something in the 40s coming out of the vent. Because out here we have so much heat that we want to get as cold as we can coming out so let’s check with how the A/C system’s working. It’s a static check, it’s nothing hard to see. That’s really about it going into the spring. You know, we have a great staff in our service department. And our service advisers have built longtime rapport with some of our clients have a 150,000, 200,000 miles on their Volkswagen still and they still drive them as daily drivers. So that tells you right there just by normal maintenance, keeping the oil clean, taking care of issues as they arise keeps them on the road for a very long time.
Tom Smith: You mentioned earlier your service advisors and I love you guys here at Ontario Volkswagen, because it is family run, family operated, everybody has been here for a duration, and you have your customer first award that you guys have received a number of years in a row, which is bestowed upon only a small percentage of Volkswagen dealers across the country. To me personally, the service adviser is so important to where I buy a car because I mean I love my sales guy when I’m buying a car, or my sales woman when I’m buying a car, but I’m going to work with them for the transaction. The service adviser, I’m going to see at least every 10,000 miles, right?
Jim Straley: Every ten. You see, you may spend four hours with your salesman, but you will spend at least 100 hours with your adviser during the ownership of your car.
Tom Smith: So especially with the Volkswagens, obviously they’ve traditionally gone forever, as long as you take care of them, but now with the new Volkswagen warranty that you have six year, 72,000, the service adviser and I are going to be seeing a lot of each other over the length of the vehicle, the duration of the vehicle. Just from a perspective a maintenance.
Jim Straley: And that really goes to speak for Volkswagen and the fact that they want a strong family in the new people first warranty, which is that longer duration of year end mileage, is going to make you a bigger part of our service department. It’s going to bring more rapport with you. We’re going to want to keep your Volkswagen running, and your relationship with your service adviser is going to be so important. So when you make a phone call, you’re a name and a face that we know. And we go to great lengths to know who you are and we want you to be part of our family, as well as we want to take care of your car.
Tom Smith: So with the extra long Volkswagen warranty, on top of the fact that Volkswagens are good for hundreds of thousands of miles, as they have always been, the key thing is like anything else, maintain it.
Jim Straley: Maintain it.
Tom Smith: What is the benchmark? What are the guidelines? Is it just wait for your lights to pop on? Is it come see me in 10,000 miles? How are the new Volkswagens on the roads these days… How do I work with them as an owner and making sure that I have it for as many years, as many hundreds of thousands of miles as I want to?
Jim Straley: Most important is just to the schedule that date. You know, it’s a birthday for your car. It’s something. You know something reminds you, I got to bring the car in. But like again, like you said earlier, 10,000 miles to most California drivers is six months. So we’re going to see you every six months, just for an oil change and a quick look around. Get you in and out, get your car washed for you, get you back down the road. The important thing about maintenance though, it allows us to tell you what you may be expecting. What are your tires like. What are your brakes like. What are other things like that you drive every day that wear out that may wear out somewhere in between. So we want to tell you everything is great with your car, but we also want to say you’re going to be looking for tires before your next service. Your brakes are down to 15 percent. So you can plan to come in, you can budget to come in, and now it’s no longer an unexpected expense.
Tom Smith: It’s like the dentist appointment, right?
Jim Straley: Exactly.
Tom Smith: There’s my little card. I mean sometimes I still get the card, I just plug it into my phone right? Skip the card. But yeah, all right, we’ve got to watch that tooth, keep an eye on it.
Jim Straley: And if it becomes a repair, we can tell you a price, we can give you time to budget it into your personal life. Because a broken down car is very expensive to fix. A budgeted repair, you’re going to save $100 a month, like I do at six months. So it becomes part of the framework of driving and living.
Tom Smith: What else can you tell us about Volkswagens that we should keep an eye out as we motor through Southern California in our new Volkswagen from Ontario Volkswagen.
Jim Straley: You’ll be seeing more of them. Volkswagen has made it a huge effort to become a primary car on the road. The Atlas, by far an outstanding car, with other makes and models that are its competition. We have the new Jetta coming out, brand new car, it’s not the Jetta you’ve seen before. We have the Golf R. We’ve got the new Tiguan. There’s a lot of new product that Volkswagen has introduced to us in America, so that Volkswagen becomes a big name brand.
Tom Smith: Jim Straley, the service manager here at Ontario Volkswagen, Ontario Volkswagen is a partner of the iDriveSoCal podcast. So, thank you for being a partner.
Jim Straley: Thanks for having me.
Tom Smith: Thank you for joining us for this podcast as well. We look forward to future talks about keeping our Volkswagens in tip top shape and until next time, I’m Tom Smith, this is iDriveSoCal, thanks for listening.