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Hello Rob.

I have an Infiniti G35 sedan with a great deal of deferred maintenance, other than oil changes. The car is generally in good shape, though recently it started to run a little rough with mileage dropping.

I would like to determine where I should start in terms of reestablishing a maintenance routine. I am on a limited budget, thus dealership maintenance is generally too expensive, especially here in Victoria.

I noted your emphasis on O2 sensors in today's engines, should this be complemented with new plugs? Any other insights or advice would be most appreciated.

Regards, Allan

A great question Allan. Here are the steps you should take, point by point:

The Shop

Because price is an issue, shop around for a shop, and it doesn't have to be a dealer. Although dealers will have insight on your particular brand, it's wise shop around. Ask friends and family for recommendations.

Explain that you are on a fixed income. Have the shop quote a typical service for your car; a brake job. Have them itemize the job – break it down so that you can compare apples to apples at the next shop you visit.

Negotiate labour rates. Again, being on fixed income, any shop that has a conscience or that would like your return business will usually negotiate a fair price. Do not be timid. This is business and you are trying to keep your car maintained while keeping a little coin in your wallet.

Visit at least six shops – and tell each shop what number they are on the list.

Do not be intimidated! You are the customer and they are the service provider. If you feel the least bit uncomfortable or they get agitated, leave.

Getting Up To Speed

Go through the outlined inspection and service recommendations listed in the 12 month service. I urge everyone to use the "extreme service" schedule as it covers most of the conditions we face in Canada.

If major repairs or service is required, and they are beyond your budget, focusing on the more critical items such as brakes, tires, steering and suspension.

On Schedule

Once you have caught up with any needed service or repairs, you should follow the maintenance service schedule outlined in your owner's manual.

At this point, you'll be up to speed and matching either the time frame or the kilometre schedule outlined in your owner's manual.

Sticking with the schedule will become easy – the catching up is the toughest, on you, your car and your wallet – but stay with it Allen.

You might be able to break down big ticket repairs into manageable chunks - check with your garage.

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