Buyers' Guide: Are new car service plans worth it?
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Until you find yourself searching the new car market, you may be unaware of service packages. We get calls from AA members buying a new car for the first time, who doubt the value of them.
Often, it’s because people don’t understand what’s included or they can’t see the benefits as modern vehicles are relatively low-maintenance.
In the current market, manufacturers either include a service package in the new vehicle price or they’ll offer it to buyers as an added extra.
If you’re looking for a new car and have noticed this, you may be wondering what you’re getting and whether it’s worth it.
Is it good value?
It depends on what you’re paying and what you’re getting back as packages can vary.
Some service plans may cover only an oil and filter change, as well as fluid checks. They may not include serviceable items such as fluid top-ups, brake pads or replacing an air filter. With other plans, you may get full replacement parts based on the age or distance a vehicle has travelled, i.e. replacement wiper blades at 40,000km. The vehicle manufacturer may also include roadside assistance as part of an after-sales package.
Most plans tend to follow a fixed-period pattern, where servicing is conducted annually or until a certain mileage is reached.
When servicing your vehicle at the dealership, remember any required consumables will be sourced from the dealer. Unlike independent workshops, dealerships tend to use manufacturers’ original parts, which can be more expensive.
Service plans tend to be more beneficial for European and performance models as their parts, such as special oils and filters, can be expensive on their own.
Balance the figures
Always ask the dealer questions to get a clear understanding of what’s included in a service package.
Some offer different levels, so discuss how you’ll be using the vehicle to determine which servicing package is the best option.
Compare the cost of paying for a service package upfront with paying for a service each time it’s due.
One option could be cheaper and you may be able to save some cash. It’s always a good idea to check whether the service package is transferable because, if you end up selling the vehicle, it will improve its resale value.
If you do take up a servicing package, thoroughly check your warranty requirements and don’t automatically discount getting your vehicle serviced at a third party site. As long as the garage is licensed, it may still be able to complete the servicing work at a lower cost than the dealership.
You just need to make sure the technicians follow the manufacturer’s servicing schedule to keep your vehicle under warranty.
Some drivers will appreciate the simplicity and convenience of taking their vehicle to a dealership to be serviced. Motorists may also have more trust in technicians at a dealership as they believe they have the most up to date knowledge of the vehicle manufacturer.
With a service plan, there’s also the reduced risk of an unexpected bill as many expenses will have already been paid for.
All new cars have a warranty but, to keep this valid, you’ll usually need to follow your manufacturer’s servicing schedule. If your vehicle is serviced at the dealership, you can be confident the prescribed servicing schedule will be followed.
New vehicles with warranties can be tricky to maintain when they are taken to a third party site for servicing. This is because you cannot guarantee the maker’s schedule is being followed to meet the warranty requirements.
If there’s a defect within the warranty period and you’ve always taken it to the dealership for servicing, the repair should be straightforward and covered by the manufacturer. Remember, however, that nothing is completely free and service plans can have limitations as they may not cover the same checks.
It’s important to do your homework before committing so you get the most out of your plan.