Photo: Kristen Lee (Jalopnik)

With 2020 car sales predicted to be down compared to 2019 some automakers are doing whatever they can to maintain market share and get new buyers behind the wheel. It’s in this spirit that Hyundai will be one of the first non-luxury brands to offer a free maintenance program. This is great but it shouldn’t be the deciding factor in buying a new car.

Amid the marketing for their “smaht pahk” feature on the big game ad, Hyundai also announced that all new 2020 models will get complimentary free maintenance. This is good marketing, but it isn’t really that great of a value.

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Here are the details of the program:

The kicker to all of these free-maintenance programs is the fact that brand new cars don’t really need much in the way of maintenance in the first three years of ownership. In fact, for most cars, it’s not until you get into the 50,000 - 75,000 where you start getting into more expensive maintenance other than oil changes and tire rotations.

According to Hyundai, the maintenance intervals on something like a 2020 Sonata requires an oil/filter change and tire rotation every 7,500 miles.

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If someone were to drive an average of 12,000 miles per year, they would hit that mark four times. A quick internet search from various Hyundai dealers revealed a bunch of coupons for oil changes and tire rotations ranging from $50 - $75. Even if someone spent on the higher end, they would be looking at a savings of about $300 with Hyundai’s free maintenance program.

Of course, an extra $300 in your pocket is nothing to sneeze at, but it should not be the primary reason you choose to buy a new Hyundai instead of a competitor’s car or a pre-owned car. Let’s take a look at this in a larger context. The all-new 2020 Sonata has a starting price of $24,555, it is a very sharp looking car with a ton of standard safety features. However, you may have heard that the sedan market is a bit rough right now which means you can find great values on pre-owned examples.

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There are a number of 2019 Sonatas with low miles for under $17,000.

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This puts that $300 in savings for free oil changes on the new car into a different perspective. I get that people don’t like making car payments and maintenance payments at the same time, but if you are in the market for a new ride it’s important to keep the bigger picture in mind when deciding what to buy.

Tom is a contributing writer for Jalopnik and runs AutomatchConsulting.com. He saves people money and takes the hassle out of buying or leasing a car. (Facebook.com/AutomatchConsulting)

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