How much should I pay for an oil change? Where can I get my tires rotated? Can I trust the mechanic?

There are a lot of questions that come up when it comes to vehicle maintenance, but Mazda is launching a program that could take some of the guesswork and costs out of car ownership.

The program is called Mazda Total Advantage (MTA), and it allows Mazda car shoppers to pre-pay for their car's maintenance. By buying all of the car's maintenance in bulk, Mazda says an MTA customer will save money over buying all of the services individually.

Some dealers have offered similar plans for years, but this is the first time Mazda is offering this type of maintenance program at a national level across its 900-dealer network.

The program will be available on 2007 model year, and newer certified pre-owned Mazdas. Mazda says it designed the program to lower costs for its customers and increase the resale value of MTA-covered cars.

Customers will have the choice of picking between two tiers of service. The Schedule I program offers a service every six months or 7,500 miles. Schedule II allows service once every four months or 5,000 miles.

According to Halie Schmidt, from Mazda's public relations department, the Schedule I program will amount to about two service stops a year, while Schedule II allows for three.

Mazda has not revealed any other differences between what the two maintenance schedules cover. Customers can purchase either Schedule I or Schedule II MTA programs in one to five year increments.

This type of program isn't new to the car industry. BMW has offered its Ultimate Service Plan to BMW and Mini owners for years. But while Mazda owners can decide whether to opt into the service, BMW automatically includes its four-year, 50,000-mile maintenance program comes with their new vehicles. BMW owners have the choice of extending it another two more years and 50,000 miles at an additional cost.

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J. Mark Sternberg is an automotive journalist, car enthusiast and writer with a degree from the University of Arizona. Mark is a devoted Formula 1 fan and also enjoys boating, flying and attending the occasional track day.

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