Genuine Servicing - Is it worth it?
About 8 months ago when I was looking at doing my own service on my car I started to look at how much reputable workshops were charging for the next service. I asked my local BMW dealer for a quote, the performance car specialist, and local prestige specialist near home and investigated doing it myself. What I discovered was out of the 3 "professional options" that my local BMW was the cheapest. Yes. Thats right my local BMW dealer, using genuine parts, factory trained technicians and a dealership full of sparkly new BMWs to stare at was cheapest. In the end I decided to do it myself. Why? Well I have a bit of knowledge with cars and before making that decision purchased a service manual to read. My BMW is 8 years old and well and truly out of warranty and unlikely to be covered under any goodwill in the future. I started to investigate the parts I needed and started at my BMW dealer again. This time BMW was $4 more expensive. Yep, Again $4 more than non genuine parts. Thats 6 litres of Castrol Longlife 04 (Branded as BMW Twin Power) and oil filter. What shocked me more was that "SuperCheap Auto" was the dearest and couldn't give me the parts immediately like the BMW dealer could. Since then I thought it was an anomaly and never really gave it any further thought. That was until recently I've had to help a work colleague through a situation with her servicing.
My work colleague has a 2014 Audi A1 - Perfect car for a single girl for her first car to spoil herself with. Being a mid to late twenties single girl (if i revealed her age she would probably throw me off our second story work floor on to the street) she didn't really value the necessity to service the car appropriately. While the car was under warranty she had Audi service the car. Her first service outside of warranty recently came due and she decided to do some shopping. She used a car servicing website that compared local workshops for service quotes for any given service. She subsequently booked through that site and ended up with a local well known mechanic specialising is VW Group products. She read reviews which were good an felt comfortable with her decision. She took her car in for service and was given a loan vehicle. Come 12pm is when her issues started. She received a call from the mechanic who advised her that beyond the $232 logbook servicing they were going to do that day the car would require the following additional items. Spark plugs, air filter, pollen filter, front and rear brake pads and rotors, coolant flush and refill and front wiper blades. To be shocked this is what she was told was required was an absolute understatement. When she asked us for help my first comment is for the 60,000km/48 month service an air filter is included in the log book service. We started getting suspicious of what exactly the car required. Being in her twenties she valued safety as a priority which is rare and requested that the brakes be done and also the coolant flush as she didn't want the engine to overheat.
3.25pm - "Hi (names and businesses kept confidential as the matter is still ongoing) We completed all the work you advised us to do and we went to roadtest your car and it wont engage gear. We have diagnosed this as the mechatronics failing on the DSG and it will be $3965. Immediately she thought they ruined her car that was working perfectly when it went in this morning. Truth be told it was just a very unfortunate coincidence. I advised her she should get the car towed to Audi and get it assessed by Audi and seek Goodwill as the mechatronics failure is very common on the 7 Speed DSG thats fitted to her A1. This is where it gets interesting. Audi are considering the goodwill claim however made a number of recommendations and assessments based on the vehicle after it was worked on by the VW group specialist mechanics. They said part of the log book service should have been the spark plugs, air filter and pollen filter. They also mentioned that the coolant didnt need a flush because the coolant supplied by Audi from new is lifetime and only ever needs topping up or replacement in the event of a cooling system repair. This is now an ongoing saga which really should not have happened if it was not misrepresented by the "specialist" Mechanic.
This experience she had got me thinking. Now that a huge majority of manufacturers offer capped priced, fixed priced or prepaid servicing schedules is genuine servicing worth it and how does it compare to the alternatives?
Turns out theres a lot of "specialist" mechanics that promote genuine parts but "cost effective" servicing that simply is dearer than going to your cars dealer and getting it serviced. I decided to do some homework. I started with my wifes car. 2015 Skoda Octavia RS 162TSI. Still in manufacturers warranty. For me there is absolutely no question about it I am taking it to Skoda. However for research purposes I decided to use the same site my work colleague used to see what pricing and what was included in my 60,000km/48 month major service. Skoda cap this at $957 for my car which includes Engine oil, oil filter, DSG oil, DSG filter, Spark plugs and Pollen filter. I check the website out and it tells me theres "12 Ace mechanics in your area". Great i thought lets see the pricing and inclusions. This is where I can see people being confused and misled if they didn't do there research because they thought " Dealer servicing is always so much more expensive" or " My mechanic knows what his doing and I trust him that he only recommends whats necessary". Out of the 12 "ace" Mechanics, four were actually dearer than my capped priced servicing from Skoda, Four within $100 of Skodas capped priced servicing and the other four between $150-$100 cheaper than Skoda. Seems like a good deal for the cheaper ones right? Well when we look at whats included we see that it includes everything Skoda offers accept the Pollen Filter. So lets factor this in and it means the gap decreases between the cheaper ones and Skoda, and the dearer ones are dearer again.
I then tried my mums 2013 Hyundai Accent and was confused as to how some places get away with what I found. 60,000km/48 Months service with Hyundai Capped at $485 and includes fuel system treatment, replace engine oil, oil filter, fuel filter and rotate rear wheels to front and vice versa. For the same inclusions as Hyundai i got 16 "ace" mechanics. Out of the 16 mechanics only 2 were cheaper than Hyundai. How much cheaper $30. Thats it. The other 14 range from $12 - $144 dearer than Hyundai Capped priced servicing. Covering the same service items. Try your car and do your own homework. I reckon you might find that it wont cost you much to do genuine servicing.
So why do some people still use independent workshops? Well the aftermarket association pushes to the workshops that customers servicing with them won't have there warranties affected because of the Australian Consumer Law. This may well be true but it also makes its more work for you to get your cover under the law.
They also push that capped priced or Fixed priced servicing programs wont do vehicle safety checks, comprehensive reports or offer cover all items that your car is required to have at the specified interval. This maybe true for some brands however most brands include everything required as part of the standard schedule and items that are less frequent like brake fluid change, cabin filters, wipers etc will be charged in addition to the capped priced servicing. Thats no different to the independent. Your dealer will also do the safety checks. Why? two reasons, First reason is to cover there bums. They want you leaving safe so you cant go back to them and say they gave you back an unsafe vehicle and ruin there brand. Second reason without doing the safety checks they miss an opportunity to upsell. Both the same reasons why independent workshops do these checks.
"Mechanics with 30 years or more experience" Great if I want them to work on my mums old Holden Commodore we had when I was a kid. When was the last time he attended the manufacturers training on the new direct injection engines or DSG gearboxes? Does he have the specialised tools that dealers lease - yes lease off the manufacturers at prices in excess of $50,000 per year. Can your independent mechanic update your cars ECU and TCU when an update was available which may improve your fuel economy or reduce the risk of a failure? No they cant. They try to charge what the dealers do and then some, provide outdated advice because they either are not aware or play on the fact you may not be aware that an item is not required (see top of article with reference to the coolant) and have nobody except google reviews to answer too.
I'm sure that there would be some good mechanics out there. But what I urge you to do is do your homework. Consider the following facts about genuine servicing and consider if your independent will give you at minimum these benefits. If not ensure the price your quoted is representative to the level of service you will get.
Fact 1: Your dealer will do a comprehensive safety check
Fact 2: They will use genuine parts - most brands offer dealerships financial incentives to only use genuine parts
Fact 3: Your satisfaction is worth more than trying to "screw you over" With out your 9/10 or 10/10 satisfaction survey most brands will financially penalise dealers for not exceeding customers expectations
Fact 4: The equipment they have access to makes the job simpler, safer (for your car from damage from tools) and always up to date
Fact 5: Will not void your warranty in any way
Fact 6: Updates that you may not be aware of will be applied
Fact 7: Factory Trained Technicians - not only by choice by required for dealers to receive there financial incentives.
Fact 8: If you develop a known fault with your vehicle outside of warranty your chances of obtaining a goodwill repair is greatly increased without having to battle down the path of the Australian Consumer Law path.
Fact 9: When genuine parts are used you have the confidence that the manufacturer of those parts likely spent millions of dollars to develop and enhance that product for your car. To ensure its safe, high quality and acceptable for use in all manner of conditions.
Theres so much more i could go on about but I won't. I believe genuine serving is worth it. Before deciding if its worth it for you do your home work. TT