Servicing your Motorcycle: DIY or Dealership

Posted: April 10, 2014 in Motorcycle
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I see a lot of this type of question on many of the other blogs, websites and forms.  Most typically they start off congenial but spin down to the “the dealership sucks and charges too much” and “if you don’t do it yourself you are a wimp”.

My POV on this subject originates in 2000 at a Ford dealership in Fayetteville, NC.  I was there buying a new vehicle, the first Ford Sport Trac sold in Fayetteville, when I overheard a heated and loud argument at the service desk.

Ostensibly a man had, what he considered, warranty work performed on his transmission (it was older F250 with a couple 100K of what looked like hard miles).  As I was waiting for my vehicle to be taken off the truck (I said it was the first) I listened to the conversion between the service representative and the owner of the truck.  Just like all these type of conversations it started politely but got heated in a hurry.

The dealership wanted to charge him over $1500 dollars for the work while he insisted it should be covered by warranty.  What it boiled down to was that the dealership stated with that many miles the transmission should have been serviced, if I remember correctly, five times.  The owner was stating that it had been serviced, he did it himself.  She responded that for the warranty to be honored the service had to be performed by a “certified” mechanic, that they would not honor the warranty. 

Now I do not know how the situation was resolved, my brand new Sport Trac came off the truck and I was checking it out. But that argument left an imprint on me that have lasted to this day.  If my vehicles are under warranty the dealership gets all service work, with the occasional exception for the standard oil change (and I keep records of that).  I also attempt to be very prompt in getting the services performed at the appropriate mileage points, give or take a few thousand miles.

I do know how to do a lot of the work myself.  I can do a lot of the basic things (that do not require a computer and there is less and less of that every year) like all the fluid changes, spark plugs and wires, batteries, lights, etc.. I have worked with friends to change transmissions and I have helped work on the pumpkins of four wheel drives.  I even use to know how to use the tire changing machines and wheel balancers and I think I could figure out how to use the modern equipment to do that job too.

So where does that leave me?  I have the knowledge to do some of my own work, but I do not want to jeopardize my warranty just in case I have a major problem down the road.  All my vehicles get their service at the dealership at least through the end of the warranty, and I do typically get the extended warranty.  To some folks I will be a stupid wimp but I think I fit in there with the majority of the population. 


  1. Experimental Ghost says:

    I don’t think you’re a stupid wimp. In fact my bike was bought new with 24 month unlimited kilometre warranty. All servicing to date has been done by the dealership because I wanted to keep the warranty intact. Like you I will revert to servicing myself once the warranty is up.

    Only difference in AU is that the work must be performed by a “qualified mechanic” (not necessarily the dealership) and the book must be stamped. They will not honour warranty if you do oil changes and the like yourself.

    The dealership has quoted me $800AU for a the up coming major 24k service. A local guy will do it for half that price and he and his mechanics are factory trained in Harley, Suzuki and Honda.

    Support the independent!

  2. 7acesmotolog says:

    I’ve often felt that I was somehow less of a rider for not doing all the service work on my bike, all the time. I know how to do a lot of the service but I take it to the dealer not to void the warranty and to save time so I can ride more. The way I look at it, I’ll let the dealer do the maintenance work but it’s important for riders to know how their bikes work. Even if I never do my own service I want to know as much about how my bike works so I can fix or repair it while on the road.

    • I agree with your thought process! When my warranty expires I will do some work, but if gets in the way with riding someone else will get the work. And, sadly, a lot of the work takes a computer now anyways.

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