What’s wrong with ToyotaCare?


Toyota Care sounds like a really good deal and is a major selling point for some people. ToyotaCare is a “free” maintenance package that comes with all new Toyota cars. It includes 25,000 miles of free maintenance (sort of), and 24 hour roadside assistance (sort of). There’s no reason not to get Toyota Care. In fact there’s no way not to get Toyota Care. However, if you’re considering ToyotaCare+, then I’d advise against it.

What’s Wrong With ToyotaCare?

Let’s start with the maintenance package. It includes a 5K service, 10K service, 15K service, 20K service, and a 25K service. That’s sounds good, but it only covers “normal factory scheduled service”, which is a little misleading. What it probably should say is that it covers maintenance listed on the “normal” service schedule.

You see, Toyota has two versions of the service schedule: “normal”, and “severe”. While “severe” sounds, well, severe, it doesn’t take much to meet the requirements for the severe schedule. Short trips, stop and go driving, extended idling will all push the car into the severe category. It’s pretty hard to drive in the East Bay without needing to follow the severe schedule, so most cars should be following the severe schedule, not the normal schedule.

So what do you get with ToyotaCare? Two oil changes, that’s it. OK, I oversimplified it a bit. You also get your tires rotated five times.

Here’s the thing, the “normal” schedule has us replacing the oil and filter every 10,000 miles, so you only get two oil changes — one at 10K, and then another at 20K.

Should I use my ToyotaCare?

There’s no reason not to use the Toyota Care that came “free” with your car. However, I’d recommend going in for the 10K and 20K services only. Have the other services done elsewhere and get the oil and filter changed at 5K, 15K, and 25K.

Toyota Care towing

The only problem with ToyotaCare towing is that they’ll only tow to a Toyota dealer. If the car has less that 25K or 2 years on it, it’ll be under warranty, so towing to the dealer doesn’t seem too bad. However, as you know, Toyota makes a very reliable car. Might it break down under warranty? Sure, maybe, but it’s not very likely. It’s way more likely that you’ll get a nail in a tire, or a friend will put diesel in the gas tank, or you’ll run out of gas. There are a lot of other shops that can deal with these sorts of problems for a lot less money than a dealership.

Questions? Comments?