Kickin’ The Can Down The Road…

Written by mitch on. Posted in Uncategorized

I don’t know about you, but it seems like we’re approaching some kind of a record for the use of lame expressions during a campaign year. The one that annoys me the most this year is, “Kickin’ the can down the road…”

It isn’t the metaphor itself that bothers me. Politicians have been “Kickin'” that can down the road for generations: long enough for it to finally come back and haunt them. What bothers me about this particular phrase is the way the OEM’s – the Original Equipment Manufacturers: the people who build the cars and trucks you purchase and I work on, have started to kick the maintenance can down the road.

In an earlier blog post, I wrote about what the OEM’s consider “acceptable” oil consumption rates and the disastrous impact extended service intervals can have when it’s “normal” to use a quart of oil every 800 or 900 miles and appropriate to change oil every 10,000. You don’t have to be a Math scholar to realize that unless you have a twelve or thirteen quart crankcase capacity you will run out of oil before you run out of miles.

Well, the same thing is happening with other service requirements and recommendations. But, that isn’t the “can” I’m talking about. The “can” I’m talking about are the normally scheduled maintenance operations that are no longer even listed in your owner’s manual: services that are no less important and yet no longer there. For all intent and purpose, they’ve disappeared or the interval is so long the service feels unnecessary, even irrelevant.

One manufacturer recommends a transmission service: a fluid exchange, every fifteen years! The average Californian drives more than 12,000 miles a year. That’s a fluid exchange every 180,000 miles! How many transmissions are you aware of that will last that long without some kind of maintenance?

It seems attractive until you stop and think about it for a moment, something we ask our clients to do just about every day when someone kicks the can into the office and onto the service counter!

Think about what? How about just one simple, but realistic question: Who gets to pay if “it,” whatever “it” is, fails and the vehicle is out of warranty? The answer is just as simple: You! And, the cost can be in the thousands!

You see, these services are being deferred in many cases to create an illusion of false economy. The fewer services required or the longer the interval between service, the less the overall cost of operation. Or, at least that’s the way it looks on paper. And, while there is no argument that just about everything on your vehicle is being made better and to last longer, we still haven’t managed to create a perpetual motion machine or even a machine that is maintenance free!

That’s something you need to think about when you kick that maintenance can down the road… The fact that sooner or later the road will end and that can and lot more just like it will be there just waiting for you to show up!

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I am a fourth generation, forty-sixy year veteran of the automotive aftermarket: an ASE Certified Master Technician, Service Consultant and Approved Automotive Manager. I grew up in this business with a passion for all things mechanical, particularly those things relating to performance. That passion grew to include all aspects of management, leadership and personal development with a special focus on every day shop operations which resulted in an eight-volume series on automotive shop management published by Cengage Learning and Thomson Publishing. I have been a trade journalist writing to the aftermarket for almost thirty years, devoting my professional life to improving both the image and experience of everyone struggling to succeed in the service industry and I've worked diligently to improve communication and increase understanding between all segments of my industry. This site and everything on it is both an extension and a continuation of those efforts

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