Is it possible for auto service to feel more like what most women experience buying shoes?

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Front grill of my 1998 BMW M3About a year and a half ago, I found myself a red 1998 BWM M3 sedan – a car that felt a little more practical than the two seated roadsters I had been attracted to. It had plenty of the fun to drive feeling that I remembered from the very first cars I drove – a 320i and a 318i. Needless to say, the M3 has a bit more bite than its very early cousins, but there is no fooling there is a patented BWM feeling these cars impart – oh, and part of that feeling is in your wallet.

Recently my car went in for its major service. Cars of this vintage are on a scheduled maintenance plan: one minor than one major service, around 10K miles but it is hard to say exactly, the car tells you. The major service and inspection supposedly takes five hours to perform and within that time the mechanic pulls together his or her wish list of what should be replaced. I am sure the recommended parts do need to be replaced, but it does feel like the mechanic is a kid in a candy shop – if only they could make the customer feel like that. This last time, in addition to the normal maintenance (oil, sparkplugs etc.) it was the fuel filter, the interior air filter, the power steering cables, the front bushings from the front suspension, the rear shocks and bushings, oh and that ticking sound from the engine!

I thought I had been hearing the engine run rough, like a stick was hitting a spinning fan. Confirmation rolled in on the first phone call from the service center, “we need to open up the engine to see what is making the noise.” I am all for finding out. It does not make sense to pretend like there is nothing wrong, so open it up they did. Turns out all of the oil drains were clogged. They cleaned everywhere oil came in and went out and added some oil treatment. Now it runs better than ever before, however, it came with the helpful hint that if the sound comes back I will need to get the lifters replaced.

This brought me to my most recent obsession, do I need to find a new car?