What’s the Ground Reality for Car Servicing Charges?

Upholding your car in top condition in today’s complex world is a challenging job. The makers and dealers of the cars earn a substantial portion of money from car sales. Tony Principe, the marketing boss of Mitsubishi lately told Drive that some car brands were determined to sell cars even for reduced profits, which could be less than hundred dollars because they could make far more by selling car parts, servicing, and from repeat business. Deloitte consultants also consent with this idea and they conveyed to the dealers in the annual reports that car servicing and parts can offer a steady income, which is very important to balance the profitability that is commonly reduced in the new or used cars sales divisions. This finding indicates that at a dealership level, car servicing makes double the money as compared to new car sales. Cut-throat competition witnessed in the car market has certainly made some cars more obtainable than ever. However, the pressure is on dealerships now to stay in business through offering finance for car sales, insurance and accommodating for car servicing and spare parts.

Why a regular maintenance is required to upkeep the car?

Cars are very complicated objects which run in tough weather conditions and temperatures and so they need regular care and upkeep. This is all the more significant because engineering tolerances have got stiffer; as a result car manufacturers have to bring in the latest and the newest technology to better effectiveness and competence of the vehicle.

When regular oil changes are skipped, a car’s engine might deteriorate too early, which restricts the vehicle from accomplishing its basic role as transport. It’s especially crucial for some of the latest and advanced turbo-charged vehicle engines. Spare parts like brakes and tyres worsen with use and can pose a threat if proper care is not taken.

Also, many of the car manufacturers have extended the service intervals to 10,000 kilometers and in some cases even to 15,000 kilometers, which is double and triple of the conventional norm that we had a couple of decades ago. Due to this, today there is more pressure to make sure you get the car serviced when it’s necessary instead of just pushing it a little far and getting it delayed.

The advantages of ongoing and regular vehicle servicing are greater, which eventually impacts comfort and costs. A car that is maintained in top condition always, will definitely survive longer, and is much safer to be in and runs smoothly.

Also, when the used car is put up for sale, people often look up the service records prior to making a purchase decision. Other key factor is vehicle warranties, which is crucial for each buyer. The vehicle manufacturer offers a certain warranty for certain kilometers or time period for all the new vehicles sold provided customers regularly follow service and maintenance schedule that is set by the manufacturer.

Recommendations of Vehicle Manufacturer

Makers guarantee that their vehicles will not experience breakdown for a certain time period, which normally range from 3 to 5 years from the vehicle’s purchase/ sale date. In the vehicle’s handbook, the details are given regarding parts, service dates and process that need to be followed. When customers don’t follow the service/ maintenance schedule carefully, which is suggested by the manufacturer then their vehicle warranty will not stand and get invalid.

Service intervals are formed by the vehicle makers after years of their experience and testing the vehicle by making it run for numerous kilometers. So, makers precisely know how far an engine can be pushed before it suffers major problems or breakdowns. Yet, different vehicle makers have different service intervals specified for their models, which sometimes the customers find it hard to agree. For instance – Ford and Hyundai recommend that their vehicles need to be serviced once in every 12 months. On the other hand, some other makers including Honda recommend to service their vehicles once in every six months (which is twice a year). Thus, when the vehicle is to be serviced twice in a year, the expenses can shoot up and it can be pretty expensive affair to upkeep the car in top condition.

What other options do the customers have?

To uphold your new car warranties, it is extremely important to follow the owner’s manual and service the vehicle regularly as laid down by the maker. Regardless what your owner’s handbook says, there is no such necessity to have servicing done through the official dealerships.

In 2014, the ACCC issued a statement that clears the myths that surrounds the warranties and 3rd party service providers like K-mart Tyre and Auto, Ultra tune or other licensed independent mechanics/ workshops.

Till the time, user agreements are followed strictly, the manufacturer warranties remain valid; and any recommendation given by licensed mechanics could negate a manufacturer warranty were probably to raise serious concerns with the consumer authority, said a spokesman for the commission. The Executive Director of Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association – Stuart Charity welcomed ACCC’s clarification.

However, there are reservations when you service your car through an independent workshop. At times, the manufacturer might only repair a failed part in case you’ve serviced your car with one of their outlets from the beginning. But on the sports models and premium cars, when you service it by one of the maker’s dealerships, you get a better price when you put up your used car for sale.

At times, vehicle maker carryout typical service drive that is just like a recall, though it may not pertain to safety. Perhaps it may be a software update or a piece of trim that require changing or a known fault with the sound system. These types of issues can be definitely done at the next coming regular service instead of taking it immediately. But yes, if it’s something pertaining to safety aspect – it should be done right away considering it a top priority without waiting for the next service to arrive. If you service your car elsewhere in an independent workshops, most likely you may miss on these crucial updates, which is something that will impact the new cars.

Extended warranties that are offered by individual company dealerships may also get invalid by 3rd-party servicing. ACCC clarified further – “This kind of extended warranty to remain valid, the common requirement is that the vehicle ought to be serviced by the dealer providing the warranty”. If such is the requirement of a dealer’s extended warranty, certainly when an independent workshop services the vehicle, the warranty will get invalid. Numerous contracts precisely need licensed mechanics to undertake maintenance work. So, anything done other than topping up a car’s fluids will be doing more damage than good.

In the long run, it certainly pays to read the fine print of the owner’s manual, which is laid down by the manufacturer when buying a new car. Also, it is imperative to have vital questions corrected by the brand’s customer service wing in black and white (in writing) than just accepting the verbal promises from the sales team.

According to the consumer law of Australia, customers can request the repairing mechanic to service and repair their car using the spare parts provided by them; however, the mechanics are permitted to refuse fitting those parts at their own judgment, especially if the particular vehicle parts are not of the right quality.

Dealerships can be trusted as they will be using genuine parts as they are fully aware that the new cars are running under warranty and they want to make doubly sure that the vehicle is serviced to maintain top condition. On the other hand, independent workshops can make use of exact duplicate parts that are often much cheaper than their original counterparts and in many cases, they are equally capable to deliver performance just like the genuine parts, but clearly it’s not without risk, as the new car’s warranty can become invalid if a duplicate part is used.

The ACCC has clearly mentioned that vehicle maker’s recommendations need to be followed by the customers without fail, which also includes regular servicing and upkeep using the correct spare parts of the right quality so as to preserve the new car warranty.

What’s all about Service Price Promise?

In the recent years, for manufacturers and dealers, Service Price Promise has been a significant tool. Clearly there are two objectives of this campaign. First and foremost – at the time of purchase this feature helps the new cars appear more attractive and compelling, which can catch hold of customer’s attention. Second most significant thing is to make the customers coming back to the manufacturer’s dealership for regular servicing, repairs etc., which help to enhance profits and continue supplying potential customers to the dealerships.

Nonetheless, Service Price Promise campaigns differ drastically in duration among the auto makers. For instance: Subaru has Service Price Promise campaign for the whole life-span of its cars (made since 2006). The charges are subject to change, but the system will permit the owners to verify costs by looking online, which will be relevant to their car, no matter where it is being serviced. On the other hand, Hyundai’s Service Price Promise campaign just accommodates prices for only 3 services over the first 3 years of ownership.

At a standard price of $371 per each service for its small car – Impreza, the Japanese auto maker’s prices exceeds beyond most of its competitors like Ford, Toyota, Holden and Hyundai. Nick Senior, the boss of Subaru Australia opines that their idea transcends labour costs and parts to accommodate environmental levies and oil recycling fees. He further says – numerous other auto maker companies remove some of these things from their usual Service Price Promise campaign for the standard scheduled service. So when you consider Service Price Promise program, consider these vital facts before deciding to buy your dream car.

Replaceable parts like air filters, brake pads, tyres and windscreen wipers will certainly need changing as per the usage; however, the charges of these replacements are normally not mentioned in the service contracts/ schedules.

The major auto maker Toyota said that they are not going to include replacement parts, which deteriorate by use or any repair work, which may be due to an accident, or a wheel alignment for that matter. All these are impacted due to operating conditions and how the driver of the car operates it.

What is Up-selling?

Vehicle owners are asked to take into account extra services during a regular servicing schedule. These extra things could include brake flush, coolant flush, cleaning products or engine additive – as these are not included in the schedule of regular logbook service. These are not regarded as vital elements that are required to keep the vehicle on the road; however, they might carry real advantages.

The difference between a well-recommended preventive care and up-selling can be very narrow, and undoubtedly, to have a good standing relationship with a trusted mechanic helps quite a lot in the long run. However, it is not legal as per Australian consumer law, to perform vehicle services that are not part of a vehicle’s maintenance plan or is outside the customer’s contract. So, be cautious when mechanics suggest servicing your vehicle outside the set schedule laid down by the vehicle makers. ACCC regards such type of services (which are originally not recommended by the vehicle maker) as unsolicited supplies. Thus, a business cannot make the customers pay for the work that falls outside the maintenance agreement, and if payments are taken for such services, they ought to be refunded to the customers.

Additionally, consumers are safeguarded by the Australian law wherein if customers are supplied with an inappropriate product not fit for use – Civil courts can order that businesses have fallen to provide the right goods or services, which in severe cases provides customers an option to opt for a refund or get a vehicle replacement or they ought to be compensated for a loss in value that is impacted due to major technical failures.

On providing extra comforts to keep the customers happy

Due to intense cut-throat competition, car manufacturers and dealerships have gone an extra mile to keep the buyers happy. Thus, coffee machines and television monitors have been connected by wireless Internet, and also have made provision for a lounge type ambience and children’s play zones – all these just to make customer’s waiting more tolerable. Normally, luxury car manufacturers provide the best services. While customers are at work, Lexus as an arrangement whereby they go and pick up and drop off the customer’s car. On the other hand, similar facilities are also given by Audi’s corporate program. Helicopter transfers between Melbourne airport and the CBD for the wealthy-rich VIP customers is the most remarkable service, which is offered by Mercedes-Benz.

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