5 car maintenance services you can get for free

5 car maintenance services you can get for free

We get a lot of pitches at Get Rich Slowly. Despite the underlying marketing agenda, sometimes these pitches contain useful information that is worth sharing. Case in point, Pep Boys emailed us a whole array of free services they offer. My ears perked up for a few reasons:

  • I was impressed with just howmany services they offer.
  • It made me wonder about other places that offer free car maintenance services.
  • A Pep Boys shop just opened downstairs from my building (selfish, sorry).

Not every city has a Pep Boys store, I know. But there are a handful of other places that offer free services too. At any rate, I thought I'd find out more and put together a list.

Tire Repair & Rotation

Stacey Hamilton is manager of Pep Boys' Services Sales and Operations. She told me, “Our free tire repair is probably our most popular service.”

When I lived in Texas, I bought my tires from Discount Tire. The few times I got a nail stuck in them or something, I'd take my car to Discount, where they'd repair it at no cost since I was a customer. Pep Boys will do the same thing for free, customer or not. Good to know if your tire is losing air and there's a store nearby.

Same story for tire rotation. Many places from which you buy your tires will rotate them for free. You can get this done for free at Pep Boys too.

Also, if you're a Sam's Club member, your membership includes free flat repair.

Windshield Wiper Installation

“Windshield wiper installation is also popular,” Hamilton said. I asked what the catch was. “You have to buy the wipers at Pep Boys, right?”

“There's no purchase necessary, ever,” she told me.

Most places, including AutoZone, O'Reilly and Advance Auto Parts will also replace your wiper blades for free if you buy them at their store. Really, if you buy wiper blades, chances are the place you're buying them from will put them on for you at no cost.

And, again, if you have a Sam's Club membership, this service is free.

I'm all for doing thingsmyself, and I can replace my own wiper blades. But hey, free is good too.

Battery Test

If your battery seems to be losing it but you're not entirely sure whether you need a new one or it's some other problem, lots of places will test it for free then tell you what the problem is. Pep Boys offers this service, and so do AutoZone, Firestone and Advance Auto Parts.

According to AutoZone's website, they will also charge your battery for free:

“We have a Duralast Fast Charger that can charge your battery for free while you wait. The fast charger charges 12-volt batteries in about 30 minutes.”

Some AAA facilities also offer free testing and charging.

Diagnostic Tests

Ah, car problems. If your brakes are making that dreaded squeaking or grinding noise, you can usually get them inspected for free. According to Pep Boys:

“Our free car diagnostic test can help you determine whether they're safe or need to be replaced. Let us remove all four wheels to check pad wear, measure rotors and drums, and check all the related fluids.”

Meineke and AAMCO also offer free brake testing. Similarly, Pep Boys offers a free alignment check.

TPMS Light and Check-Engine-Light Evaluation

If your tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) light turns on, they'll evaluate that too:

“This can mean reduced gas mileage and even hazardous driving. When your TPMS light goes on…we'll give you a free car evaluation — and check your air pressure.”

Similarly, if your check-engine light comes on, you can take your car to Pep Boys and they'll help you figure out what the problem is.

“Pep Boys offers free engine light code retrieval designed to provide the answers you need when your Check Engine light comes on.”

AutoZone and O'Reilly also offer this service. Most auto repair shops do too, and that's not surprising. After all, if you've got problems, you've got to get them fixed somewhere.

But Seriously, What's the Catch?

The catch is, of course, these places want you in the door. It's the same withcredit card rewards. Free stuff — they just want you in the door so you'll spend money, if even eventually.

But the services are totally available for you to take advantage of, even if you don't want to spend anything. Hamilton did tell me that three of Pep Boys' services require enrollment in their rewards program (flat repair, brake inspection, check-engine light). But that program is free and works like a store loyalty program.

“The new or first-time customers are always surprised,” Hamilton said. “The services we offer are services that are usually occurring in a pinch, when you weren't expecting it. And a lot of people think of Pep Boys as retail only. So part of offering the services is, we want to let people know we can take care of service needs too.”

I was surprised as well. I didn't realize just how many maintenance services were available at no cost. Next time I have a car issue, this knowledge will definitely come in handy.

More about...Transportation

Become A Money Boss And Join 15,000 Others

Subscribe to the GRS Insider (FREE) and we’ll give you a copy of the Money Boss Manifesto (also FREE)

Yes! Sign up and get your free gift
Become A Money Boss And Join 15,000 Others
guest
37 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jon
Jon
6 years ago

Free wiper blade replacement is especially nice when it’s pouring down rain. It can be very frustrating installing them while getting soaked.

ctlfsh
ctlfsh
6 years ago

Or you can learn to do (most of) these simple tasks yourself and learn how to care for what is probably the 1st or 2nd-most expensive asset you own. Tire rotation, windshield wiper replacement, tire pressure checks, and fluid level checks are easy routine maintenance that you ought to be doing yourself as part of maintaining familiarity with the normal operation of the car, so that when something major happens you have more to tell the repair shop to help diagnose the problem than just “it’s making a funny sound”.

Beth
Beth
6 years ago
Reply to  ctlfsh

I’m a DIY girl myself, but some of us don’t have the space or the equipment to service our own cars beyond some very basic tasks. (Most apartments and condos in my area prohibit working on vehicles in the parking lot).

Oddly enough, the fact that my car is my most expensive possession is all the more reason to have someone with the right tools and expertise deal with it 🙂

KC in ATX
KC in ATX
6 years ago
Reply to  ctlfsh

I agree with some of those, but you do your own tire rotation?

Brian@ Debt Discipline
[email protected] Debt Discipline
6 years ago

Nice free services, but I sure it can get awkward if they find an issue and you decided not to have the issue address right then and there.

Kristin Wong
Kristin Wong
6 years ago

Right! Like I said, that’s the catch. But the services are there for free for anyone who wants to use ’em, awkward or not.

Simple Money Concept
Simple Money Concept
6 years ago
Reply to  Kristin Wong

What I found out is they have higher standards than me. My experience with “free” inspections always involve them finding something to be replaced. The reality is you can always find something wrong if you look careful and long enough. Just like our bodies, the doctor can always find something wrong…

Nevertheless, it’s still better than paying for the inspection and the good/service!

Amanda
Amanda
6 years ago

These things sound awefully useful. However, in college I had my car towed to the local Pepboys and they tried to overcharge me in 3 different ways. (New battery when it was less than a year old and needed charging and a few other smaller things). Perhaps it was a “taking advantage of a college girl who doesn’t know better” attempt but I haven’t shopped there since.

Becky @ RunFunDone
Becky @ RunFunDone
6 years ago

Pretty much any auto parts store will allow you to hook their computer up to your car to figure out why the “check engine” light is on. I’ve been surprised by how few people know that!

Adam Kamerer
Adam Kamerer
6 years ago

Maybe I’m just lucky, but these are all things my local mechanic will do for free, too. As useful as places like Pep Boys and AutoZone can be, finding a good mechanic who won’t abuse you is one of the best financial decisions you can make when it comes to automotive stuff.

Bam206
Bam206
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam Kamerer

That’s very true!! Plus I really believe that you’ll be replacing things that may not need to be right away at these places. Where your mechanic will only have you replace what really needs to be right away etc..and they’ll let you know when you should replace it . That alone saves money I think

Nick
Nick
6 years ago

This seems like a great service and I’ll be sure to check out. This is what I love about GRS, it’s full of great money saving tips.

Susan
Susan
6 years ago

A word to the wise… Several year ago, Pep Boys was featured on one of the evening magazine shows for fleecing their customers. I think this issue may have been investigated and televised on more than one occasion. Anyway, a hidden camera showed the mechanics damaging parts to the car or providing unnecessary services. No bueno. I have also heard numerous stories from friends about going in for an oil change and getting a call about “other work” needed on their car with a hefty price tag. That is a red flag! I would suggest that get your car serviced… Read more »

MoneyAhoy
MoneyAhoy
6 years ago
Reply to  Susan

There usually is no such thing as a free lunch! What you’ve outlined here is what I usually worry about anything I get a “free” inspection.

Karen
Karen
6 years ago

I’ve been wary of Pep Boys (and most car service chains) for a while, but when I had to visit one recently, I had a good experience.

If you can do any of these services yourself, that’s ideal. If not, judge PB on a case by case basis. I don’t think the shadiness is institutional any more.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
6 years ago

I had to take the car for an oil change to the local Pepboys (long story, don’t ask) and the guy started pumping my nitrogen-filled tires with regular air, in spite of the obvious green valve caps. Oy!! Get learned, buddy! Stick to the oil!

I do like my local store though, it has a friendly staff, I can find everything I need there, etc.– but generally I only let people I trust touch my vehicle. That will be a last for sure.

Mark Thomas
Mark Thomas
6 years ago

It can be especially important to take advantage of the fact that you can get a free diagnostic if the check engine light is on. There are many problems the light can be indicating; some that are no cause for immediate concern and some that can be pretty severe if not addressed. Since you’ve got nothing to lose (except a little time), you can potentially save yourself from more costly repairs later by getting it checked out as soon as the light comes on. If it turns out to be something serious but you waited weeks after the light came… Read more »

k
k
6 years ago

This is nice in theory, but when you actually go *into* a Pep Boys, it depends heavily on how competent and helpful the staff at a given location are. We took a flat tire with a nail in it to Pep Boys, and they wouldn’t even repair it for a charge. They said the tire was “too wide” and we could pay for a new tire to be put on, but we’d have to wait six hours. Uh, no thanks. We took it to another tire place, where they repaired the tire for $40 in 15 minutes. I’ll never step… Read more »

Kristin Wong
Kristin Wong
6 years ago
Reply to  k

I can assure you, I’m not shilling. I received zero compensation for this. I get nothing out of your going to any of these places. I simply discovered some info and thought it worth passing along. Plus, I mentioned a whole bunch of their competitors in the post, so if I’m shilling, I’m really bad at it. It seems like a lot of people had a bad experience at Pep Boys. And, y’know, that’s probably why they’ve started offering these services now, so they clean up their image. I’m not saying, “Hey, everyone! Go to Pep Boys!” I’m saying, “Hey,… Read more »

Tom
Tom
6 years ago

DO NOT PAY FOR ANY SERVICES AT PEP BOYS!!!! I even advise against their freebies. When I took my car in for state inspection a couple of weeks ago they: -Lost my insurance card (blamed me- and I had to go and find it myself, it was behind the cash register) -Damaged the inside of the windshield scraping off the old inspection stickers. And again they tried to blame me, but failed. They referred me to an auto glass shop. I wanted a written statement that they were responsible for the damage and they said they “couldn’t do it”. -Left… Read more »

TSX Trader
TSX Trader
6 years ago

I am glad you said Pep Boys, I asked for a service center (nameless) to pull the check engine light code for me and they wanted 20.00… I just needed the code so I could figure out what was wrong but I’m not paying twenty bucks for two seconds of work

sarah @ little bus on the prairie
sarah @ little bus on the prairie
6 years ago

In my experience, places that say they do the computer diagnostic for free mean it’s taken off your bill if you get the repair done there. I could be wrong though.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman
6 years ago

We just had the “check engine” light come on. The O’Reilly’s auto parts store does offer the free diagnostic plug-in.

sarah @ little bus on the prairie
sarah @ little bus on the prairie
6 years ago

Oh! And another thing: we have had great success with an obd reader that goes along with an android app. The whole set up cost about $40 and worked works like a charm. It’s called Torque in the android market and you can get the physical piece off amazon.

margaret
margaret
6 years ago

Pep boys does not provide free diagnostics for check engine light. I just had it done for$40. + They discovered an emissions problem and had to wait through the weekend for them to find a part & to let me know how much it would cost to fix. (though they did say that the diagnostics fee could be applied to the repair cost

Yenka coupon
Yenka coupon
6 years ago

Every seller Say it. “We Will Give you Free Maintenance Service” But Everyone Give it ?

auto insurance philadelphia
auto insurance philadelphia
6 years ago

Learned a lot reading your blog and the comments as well. I haven’t really been to Pep Boys as I’ve heard not so good reviews about them. But yeah, if you want to save money, you should definitely go to a mechanic that you trust. And if you’re a long time customer, you can absolutely get a reasonable price for their services.

D Anthony
D Anthony
5 years ago

This was quite interesting… obviously ….if you are a regular customer for repairing your car in your local shop..then the mechanic will definitely provide you free car maintenance service without charging a single penny.

albert candy
albert candy
5 years ago

i like this free services… i have heard the Pep Boys has good reviews not only that if you wait long time, you should get affordable prices.

Jim K.
Jim K.
5 years ago

I have heard so many people complain about getting ripped a new one at Pep Boys I have no intention of ever setting foot in one. I used to be hard headed and have to learn the hard way.That can get expensive. All the “freebies” ? Thanks but no thanks.

Chad
Chad
4 years ago

O Reillys in bakersfield, ca said they dont do engine light check service, although their website says they do.

DJ
DJ
4 years ago

Meineke has a rewards program that you can actually use the rewards points that you earn towards future services. I have even received free Supreme oil changes and other free or heavily discounted services.

All About Imports
All About Imports
4 years ago

Great blog! I think if you are a regular customer to a service station then they will give you the best services at reasonable prices.

mobil1nanaimo
mobil1nanaimo
3 years ago

Hey Thanks for sharing such an informative post.
You have clearly outlined each and every point.
worth reading your post.
Regards.

TM
TM
2 years ago

Will never go inside pep boys for any services anymore. Got me one too many times…stupid girl!!! What I need now is a place to take the car for free advise on what parts to buy for squeaking or chirping noise when I turn on my car. 3 people have told me different things. Either belt conditioner or belt (which one) or pulley (which one). I work for an auto parts place, but need to know exactly the parts to buy so a friends mechanic boyfriend can fix it. Would hate to buy something I can’t take back cause after… Read more »

thelma harcum
thelma harcum
1 year ago

Yes, I would be careful of Pepboys. I once drove in for a check of something, and with the estimate they gave me, and them disabling my car so it won’t move, I had the car towed out of there and to somewhere else!

Lulu
Lulu
9 months ago

This isn’t true for all locations. I’ve taken my car to Pepboys on two separate occasions for a nail in tire and they charged me $19.99 each time for something that took them 3 minutes to repair. I live in Los Angeles.

shares