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Making Sense of Car Servicing

Even for experienced car owners, or motorheads, car servicing can be an uncertain and difficult minefield to navigate. From capped-price servicing, to decisions on what parts to use and where to take the vehicle, or even the frequency with which your vehicle enters the garage – there are no shortage of decisions to consider.

First things first, servicing should be considered for what it really is – preventative maintenance. The purpose is to keep your car in good shape and identify any potential issues before they become a concern. As such, the key is to keep on top of your service schedule and book your car in regularly as per its recommended service intervals – often every 6 or 12 months, or 10-15,000km, whichever comes first.

Instead, what many motorists do is wait for a problem to arise and then take their vehicle in for repairs as well as general servicing. The problem with this approach is, not only can preventative maintenance potentially help prevent the issue in the first place, but it can save you considerable money.

Another thing you may want to consider is servicing your vehicle through an independent mechanic. Motorists often feel as though they are obliged to take their vehicle to a dealership for servicing, or they will void their warranty. This is not quite true. If your car is affected by a warranty issue, the independent mechanic will refer you back to your dealer for the manufacturer to subsidise the work. Outside of that, independents can offer very competitive prices, particularly if they utilise aftermarket, rebuilt or reconditioned parts.

More recently, some transparency has crept into the servicing process. Whereas previously a motorist would be flying blind with regards to the prices they would receive, servicing has become a little more structured. Drivers now have access to dealers who offer fixed or capped-price servicing programs, where motorists are provided with a price ceiling for their service, usually for a certain amount of years. As always however, motorists need to pay attention to inclusions and exclusions, the eligible timeframe, the frequency of the service, as well as any other terms and conditions.

The other trend which has become more prominent is menu-based servicing. This details the specific components, and labour, included in your vehicle’s service and their respective cost. Effectively, an itemised breakdown. When referenced with prices for individual parts, this type of summation provides some insight to understand the margins your mechanic is charging.

Accordingly, motorists have considerably greater scope to shop around and compare their service costs between service providers, or for varying makes of cars. With that said, motorists shouldn’t confuse price differences between different car manufacturers as being attributable to the mechanic or dealership. After all, there are a multitude of vehicle-related factors which play their part, not least of which concerns things like availability of parts and the frequency of servicing.


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