Looking to cut costs, carmakers are eliminating their free-maintenance programs. What will save them money could cost drivers thousands of dollars in upkeep during a car’s life span, the Wall Street Journal reports. Luxury cars first began offering free oil changes and tire rotations, but the practice eventually became an expected part on the new-car package. Beginning with 2006 models, Volvo will be dropping its plan to just one free maintenance visit. Mitsubishi and Mercedes-Benz quit offering free upkeep with the 2005 models; however, Mercedes now has maintenance packages for purchase, ranging from $576 to almost $4,000. It used to provide four years for free. Many of the manufacturers that dropped the offer are the same that were pointed to as having repair and reliability problems. Such factors might drive warranty costs up. Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes and Volvo posted below-average rankings on J.D. Power & Associates’ Vehicle Dependability Study. On the other hand, BMW AG and Lexus, with above-average rankings, will continue some or all of their free-maintenance programs, according to the report. Here are some that still offer free maintenance: Audi is free for four years or 50,000 miles on all 2005 models. The program is being reviewed for 2006. BMW has a full maintenance program for 2005 and 2006 models including oil changes, wiper blade inserts and brake pad replacement. Cadillac XLR comes with free maintenance for a warranty period of four years or 50,000 miles. Land Rover offers free scheduled maintenance on LR3, Range Rover Sport, and Range Rover for four years or 50,000 miles. Lexus provide a free first scheduled maintenance at 5,000 miles or six months that includes tire rotation and engine oil replacement.
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