Unfortunately not all lifestyles or areas of North America lend themselves easily to alternate cost-saving transportation strategies like public transit, biking, car-pooling or walking. Until there are major shifts in our lifestyles and geography vehicle ownership will remain a fact of life for those not living in large urban areas.

There are strategies you can utilize to keep costs manageable and safeguard what is for most families, a major investment.
Strategy 1

  • Own – do not lease – your vehicle. Unless you have a business through which you can write off lease payments and buyout costs, utilize conventional (bank or dealer) vehicle financing to purchase your vehicle. Leasing does not avoid maintenance costs. The only thing you “purchase” with a leased vehicle is life-time payments while conventional financing allows you to anticipate the vehicle loan being paid off and freeing up those funds for other priorities like paying down your mortgage more quickly.
  • If leasing a vehicle is the only way to afford a particular model, reassess the choice to ensure that your home finances are as productive as possible to service current and future financial needs.

Strategy 2

  • Regular oil changes and comprehensive maintenance inspections are the number one way to keep repair & maintenance costs manageable.
  • Even though manufacturers recommend oil change intervals of 7000 km or even up to 12,000 km, Harold’s Auto Service recommends an interval of 5000 km or 3000 miles between oil changes. Regardless of initial value any vehicle can develop repair, service or even safety issues after far fewer than 7,000 kilometers. Quite often the longer you wait to complete services (such as brake renewal) the more related parts are affected resulting in higher costs.

Strategy 3

  • Even if your vehicle is still covered under manufacturer warranty, have all regular maintenance services performed by an independent service provider. There is a huge advantage to utilizing an ‘independent’ because they work only for you; your needs are their only priority.
  • Independent service providers utilize appropriate parts and procedures that meet manufacturer warranty requirements. They inspect your vehicle with independent eyes to identify warranty issues that can be referred to the dealer for repair.
  • Independent providers utilize the same on-line technical vehicle information as dealers do. This includes warranty specification service/inspection intervals, manufacturer Technical Service Bulletins (TSB’s) as well as published and non-published recalls.
  • We are an independent service provider.  Your personal and family safety and vehicle longevity are our primary concerns. The buck stops with us; we offer our comprehensive warranty package to protect your vehicle investment.

Strategy 4

  • The lowest price is rarely the best deal; comprehensive inspections, maintenance and service save money in the long run.  Talk to a cross section of people you know to choose a highly recommended, reputable independent service provider. Choose one who provides comprehensive no-charge inspections (at least) at every oil change service.
  • Regardless of financial status most of us appreciate advance notice to budget for costs.  Stickingwith the same facility allows them to best track vehicle needs and protect you against surprises. Your service advisor will explain upcoming repair/service needs identified in inspections and can provide both cost estimate and timeline for completion. At subsequent visits any noted conditions are reevaluated and you are updated about changes in severity that affects the repair timeline.

Strategy 5

  • Drive smart, with safety and fuel consumption in mind. Being heavy footed on the gas and brake pedal results in higher costs for fuel, brake, suspension and steering components. So does carrying around extra junk in your trunk, improperly inflated tires, poorly planned errands and many other factors.
  • Checking/adjusting tire pressure at every gas fill saves money, maximizes tire tread life and protects the four very small surfaces that are your vehicles only contact with the ground.

Strategy 6

  • Gramma was on to something when she told you “cleanliness is next to godliness”. To maximize resale values (often thousands more) take time often to clean and vacuum the interior. During regular exterior washings, spray underneath the vehicle and thoroughly clean the inside of wheel-wells to remove damaging (rust  and corrosion inducing) deposits.

Strategy 7

  • Think about your vehicle as a transportation investment. Do not cycle into a new vehicle every 3-5 years just to have manufacturer warranty coverage in place. Vehicle Lease or Buy Calculator
  • A “Consumer Reports” magazine study found costs to properly maintain an older vehicle far outperform recurring repurchase costs. Taking into account trade-in values & rising new vehicle sticker prices vs. costs to maintain an older vehicle, the well maintained vehicle wins out every time.  Over 20 years, Consumer Reports said you can save upwards of $15,000. These considerable savings can pay down your home mortgage more quickly or be invested in your children’s education.

In conclusion, vehicle ownership is a necessary evil in our busy lives but if you think, act and drive smart you will keep costs lower and protect resale value while comprehensive maintenance and service keeps your family as safe as possible on the road.



Welcome to Alberta…..we hope you enjoy it as much as we do. Understanding inspection rules beforehand can remove some frustration that comes up during the inspection process. This is how is all happens!!

  • Out of Province Request form You must obtain one from any vehicle registry office. It serves two purposes – a) enters your vehicle into Alberta Transportation computer records & b) authorizes approved Inspection Stations to do your inspection. This form is valid for 90 days from date of issue.
  • Make an appointment to have the inspection completed.
  • If your vehicle passes inspection, expect to receive a copy of the Out of Province Inspection Certificate, your paid invoice and an Inspection Report which details everything that was checked.
  • You MUST take this certificate back to the registry office within 14 calendar days to meet Alberta Transportation guidelines. You do NOT have to register the vehicle immediately, but the inspection process is now complete and your vehicle can be registered at your convenience. Be sure to register your vehicle within Alberta Transportation time limitations as penalties are costly!!
  • If repairs are necessary to pass the inspection, you have 10 calendar days from inspection date to complete those repairs. (The inspection relies on your odometer reading so if the vehicle does not leave our premises there is more leeway/time to complete repairs.)
  • At Harold’s Auto Service WE WILL ALWAYS contact you with full price estimates prior to proceeding on any deficiencies the inspection identifies on your vehicle.
  • If for any reason you choose not to complete repairs we must finalize the proceedings and your ten day count down begins on the inspection day date.
  • Remember your OOP Inspection Certificate MUST be presented to a vehicle registry office within 14 days or the process starts again – and might include new or re-inspection costs!! Even if you are not going to be driving the vehicle, make time to take the certificate in!!

Hopefully this information helps you navigate the OOP inspection process.