AA Car Care: Why just changing your oil is not enough
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In an AA Auto Centre you’ll often hear comments along the lines of: “I don’t need a full service, just an oil and filter change will do.”
But what about the rest of the vehicle? How do you know if your air filter is dirty, or if the driveline fluids have turned brown? An occasional oil change should not be the only service your vehicle has annually – you need to look after all its components.
There are benefits in following a service schedule. It ensures important items of a vehicle are checked and the vehicle owner is aware of what is due for replacement and the preferred timeframe. This gives peace of mind that the vehicle has been given a quality service by an experienced mechanic. This could also save you time and money instead of paying for each inspection individually.
Services are generally broken up into levels or stages. In the AA’s case, it’s the AA Bronze Service (from $179 for members), AA Silver Service (from $199), and AA Gold Service (from $259).
The AA Bronze Service is usually supplementary at six months, for those who travel a lot of kilometres in a year and require a service part-way through; or similarly, those who are very particular about their vehicle.
The other two AA service options are recommended at a yearly interval, which ensures that a complete service history is maintained and the vehicle is well checked by an expert.
Two birds, one stone
If you had to price up some service items such as parts and oils, or get them attended to individually, they would cost more than they do as part of a service.
For example, a vehicle using a standard mineral oil could take five litres during a change at a cost of $80, and an oil filter for an additional $30-$50. Add the price of labour and you could be looking at $180, plus any workshop sundries on top for an oil and filter change, only to have to get a full vehicle service further down the track.
During a comprehensive service (like the AA Gold Service), you need to raise a vehicle off the ground in order to remove the wheels and check the brakes and bearings. Getting the vehicle onto a hoist is also required when changing the oil, so it makes sense to do these things at the same time as part, of a service.
Another example is an Engine Management System scan, which could cost at least $65 on its own, but is included as part of an AA Gold Service.
What AA Auto Centre offers
The entry-level AA Bronze Service includes a check and replace of all vehicle fluids, a battery test (which on its own could cost up to $50), an air filter check (another $25 in some cases) and tyre pressures checked as part of a 26-point service.
The services options build from there, with more items checked/replaced the further you move up the levels, right up to the complete 40-point AA Gold Service, which naturally takes longer and involves a lot more components being inspected. These components include checks like the air conditioning and the aforementioned wheels-off inspection and Engine Management System scan.
Keeping on top of things
Servicing is also not just about checking items; there are parts on a vehicle that will require interval replacements periodically. Most items on a vehicle will wear out, get dirty or have a shelf-life, and ultimately require replacement at some stage.
With regular servicing, a technician can monitor these items and inform you when they will need to be replaced.
For example, a cambelt may need to be replaced every seven years (or 100,000km), an air filter may last 30,000km, and spark plugs (depending on type fitted) may need replacing between every 30,000km to 100,000km.
That’s why it’s a good idea to budget a small amount of money over and above regular services each year to keep your vehicle functioning the way it should – safely and soundly.