Dollars and Sense
A disciplined approach to feeding a maintenance savings account on a cents-per-mile basis will keep you on top of maintenance needs.
Build a local team
One way to control maintenance costs is to find good local shops and build relationships with them. I’ve done so with a general maintenance shop, a tire shop, an engine shop, an alignment shop and an A/C shop. Dealing with professionals who specialize in one maintenance item is key to holding costs down and keeping quality up.
Creating the relationship is crucial. Take time to sit down with the service manager or owner and let them know your goals and plans. Ask their advice about maintenance schedules.
Do things like occasionally taking lunch to the mechanics. A case of sodas and a couple of pizzas go a long way toward building a relationship with the people who are working on your truck. Also compliment the work once in a while instead of complaining that everything is too expensive.
I’ve found that by fostering these relationships, I have a resource I can use even when my trucks break down on the road. If one ends up in an unfamiliar shop, I ask for a written estimate and an explanation of the work to be performed, and fax it to my local shop for advice.
Another great way to build a relationship is through referrals. If you were happy with the shop’s work, spread the word around to your friends.