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Mazda 6 maintenance costs

On completion of the last service on my 2006 Mazda 6, which has done 24,000 km, the dealer advised me that the auto transmission fluid was a bit dirty and may need replacing at the next service due in February 2011. They also advised the cost would be about $300. I was surprised to hear that the oil may need replacing at such an early stage and also surprised at the cost, which seems high. What is your view?

Mazda's maintenance schedule suggests that the fluid and fluid level be inspected every 20,000 km, so the dealer has done the right thing and checked yours at the appropriate service. He's also done the right thing in warning you that it could need changing at the next service, and given you a possible cost. Some automatic transmission specialists, those of the old school anyway, are adamant that the transmission fluid should be changed every 20,000 km to keep the transmission alive and well. It would seem the dealer has given you good advice on the possibility you might need to change the  fluid, although the cost does seem a little high. Ask the dealer for a breakdown of the costs so you can see what the fluid costs and how much time you're being charged for. That should tell if you are being overcharged.