My original goal, way back when I was a naive young blogger five months ago, was to post at least once or twice every week. Now that I've grown wise and experienced, I understand why that was foolish. It's been two months since my last blog post! So for this one, I'll be catching everyone up on what's happened in the last couple months - specifically, putting together maintenance options that make Aston Martin ownership far more reasonable than ever before!
Before I get started, I want to thank the amazing people I've worked with over the last few months - suppliers and customers alike have been amazingly supportive! Thank you all so much!
Simple Service Sticker Shock
New owners and prospective owners alike get sticker shock from maintenance costs for Aston Martins. (I was once charged $650 for just an oil change!) As I said in a previous blog post, it isn't necessarily the dealerships' fault - they're relatively low volume with high overhead. But while it can be understandable that costs are high, it's still disconcerting and turns many people away from the brand.
I've always liked working on my cars and that didn't change when I got into an Aston. Quite the opposite, actually. I love working on these cars. So it's natural that I and others like me want to do our own maintenance.
But herein lies a problem: there isn't nearly as much information out there for these cars as you'll find for others, like BMW and Porsche. Those brands are so well-documented that you can do just about anything to them yourself, if you're a competent mechanic. Finding information on Astons, however, is a different story.
So I set out to change that.
It led me to create the DIY guides and videos so people could do their own work, but it didn't address the high costs of supplies. At first I tried to get private-label items made, like oil filters. But it proved to be far too cost-prohibitive. Instead, I linked up with a supplier in England that now sends me all of the OEM items I sell on my website. No - the stuff I sell didn't "fall off a truck" or anything like that. Rather, I've got very little overhead and have been very fortunate to work out some supply arrangements that help me keep my prices as low as they are.
Not everything I sell is OEM. There are indeed flaws in some things that roll out of the Aston Martin factory, so I find a way to replace or improve those. One such item are the Torx bolts that hold the oil bypass filter covers in place. As I discussed in my YouTube video for changing the oil in a V8 Vantage, these bolts tend to seize. I matched the bolt to a standard hex-head bolt at Fastenal and now supply them in my oil change kits. I've tested them on my own car for two years and they work perfectly fine without the risk of seizing.
Another item I've replaced are the throttle body o-rings for the DB9. The oil filter on that car is accessed by removing the throttle body (wtf?), so it's best to replace that o-ring. I found an identical match for the OEM o-ring, and I can source those for far less than it'd cost from a dealership. It's quite possible that the o-rings I sell are the very ones Aston themselves use. But since I get them from a third party, I can't (and won't) say that they're OEM.
Bolts and o-rings might only save you a few bucks, but then you have things like oil that really affect maintenance costs.
I won't re-hash the oil topic I covered previously, but I will touch upon another area: gear oil. Long story short, Aston uses a very specific oil from Castrol called BOT270A. It was designed to alleviate stiff shifting between first and second gear when the transmission is cold. It helps, especially people in colder climates like in Canada, but it's seriously expensive. Like $70 per quart expensive. I'll be covering this oil in far more detail in an upcoming post soon.
I've used Royal Purple and Castrol Syntrax in my own car since I bought it. Each was fine for me with minimal cold-shift issues, but I've been living in more moderate climates. Gear oil is one of those random things I've looked into over the years, taking notes along the way. Once I started selling maintenance supplies, I revisited the matter in earnest. I compared the specs and test results of several oils before picking up the phone and calling Motul. I wanted hard facts, not marketing boilerplate or any fluff nonsense. Much to my surprise, I was put in contact with a guy that wanted to give me the information I needed. We had a great chat and at the end of it, we had agreed to work together to bring Motul into the consumer market of Aston Martin owners.
The partnership with Motul is a win-win-win situation. I get an oil supplier that makes excellent products. My customers get those excellent products at lower prices than they'll pay for OEM supplies from a dealership. And Motul gets access to a new market of very detail-oriented customers that aren't going to risk using sub-par products in their prized cars. Aston owners are a conservative bunch, and for good reason.
Here's the thing about me. I like working with people on things. I like win-win situations. I hate pissing contests and don't trust people that speak in absolutes. Yes, I sell Motul products. I sell them because I like their products. I'm not going to sit here and push products I don't trust or don't like. I've gained a following in the car world by being proactive and helpful. Now that I've got my nifty little website, I'm hoping it brings me some extra spending money. But I will not sell shoddy products and sacrifice my reputation to make a buck.
Motul wanted to link up with me because of how intensely critical I am of just about everything I do - I'm constantly evaluating and re-evaluating my own products as well as looking for ways to improve Aston's products. And I'm happy I got to link up with Motul - they've been fantastic at giving me real answers and embrace the hard data that it takes to win over protective niches like us Aston Martin owners.
Uncompromising quality speaks for itself
My scrutinizing nature is what led me to develop my oil catch can kit and lightweight battery mount. I found ways to improve my car and turned them into highly functional products. Those two products proved to be very popular and now they've been picked up by an actual Aston Martin dealership! I'll admit that I've been incredibly excited about a dealership selling my products - it adds a lot of credibility to my fledgling company, and it means a lot to me that a dealership approves of my work to the extent that they'll sell it themselves. So if you're out near the Bay Area in California, stop into the Luxury Collection to see my products first-hand.