Service Visit - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - 2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo Long-Term Road Test

2011 Kia Optima Long-Term Road Test

2011 Kia Optima SX Turbo: Service Visit - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

July 13, 2011

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The Optima was due for its first oil change and tire rotation so I called ahead to price these services. I was told it would be $57 for the two so I wrote this down, along with the service advisor's name, since she had been helpful on the phone. I was being cautious because, as many of you already know, a service visit is often the scene of intense upselling.

When I showed up at Car Pros Carson Kia, in Carson, Calif., the service advisor who had been helpful on the phone was waiting on the woman in line ahead of me. The service advisor was doing a real tap dance, offering specials and coupons and all kinds of preferred services which included an 'injector service" and totaled $349. I nearly cheered when the woman said, "I'll wait on that."

Oddly enough, when it was my turn, the service advisor stuck to our agreement for just the oil change and tire rotation. I was then offered my choice of two different places to wait, the TV lounge or the quiet lounge. I'd never run into this before but I liked getting away from the mindless chatter of the bubbleheads on early morning TV.

The car was returned to me on time by the service advisor who said the "courtesy inspection" showed we might soon need new tires and brakes. She was probably laying the groundwork for my next visit. The service advisor then escorted me to the cashier's window and then, after paying, to my car. Lots of personal service! In the theme of this blog's title I would categorize this as "The Good" part of my service visit.

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Back in the car I found that the oil warning system had not been reset. This was "The Bad" part of the visit. Not a big deal really, but kind of hassle. When I got home I got out the manual and learned that the oil and tire rotation alarm can be programmed to come on at different intervals. (You would think that the alarm would come on at the factory recommended interval of 7,500 miles.) One of the options on the menu was the mysterious, and somewhat nonsensical, "Not Use" that has been displayed recently. So "Not Use" apparently refers to the system, and not to driving the car.

And now, for "The Ugly" part of the service visit. After resetting the oil alarm, I glanced up at the corner of the windshield and saw the sticker instructing me to return in three months or 3,500 miles for my next oil change. The service advisors know that the Optima has an oil change interval of 7,500 miles. But, no, they want me back twice as often to sell me services that I probably don't need.

What's wrong with too frequent oil changes, aside from wasting money? We looked into it in detail in our article "Stop Changing your Oil." But let me put it another way. Why would you order a good meal, eat half of it, and then scrape the rest into the trash, especially if you're still hungry?

Philip Reed, senior consumer advice editor @ 8,750 miles

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