Car Choices: Servicing, dealer or private?
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Convenience and cost: they’re the two big factors to consider when it comes time to service your new car.
We’ve covered off a lot in our Car Choices series so far: from buying new or used to financing, to considering those last minute upsells & accessories, there’s a myriad of choices and questions posed when buying a car. We’ve done our best to detail all the big and little things car buyers are faced with.
So this time, the purchase is complete. You’ve rolled out in your new car, parked it at home, time has passed and kilometers have been travelled.
So it’s time for the first service. If it’s a used car, that might be a few weeks or a few months; if it’s a new car, it could simply be a return-to-dealer to ensure everything is tight and running as it should.
The important thing is to ask about the first service: is it free, and if not, what does it cost?
Some brands include free servicing, others have capped-price servicing, and others charge for everything, so it’s important to know this right from the start. Not just the cost, but at what intervals are they due: a car with 20,000km service intervals might sound better than one at 10,000km, but it might also be more than double the cost.
It’s all very well to buy a cheap car at a great price, only to find out its servicing costs are prohibitive, especially if a car is sold at, for example, 95,000km and a large and expensive service is due at 100,000km. That doesn't have to be a deal-breaker, but it's something to be aware of and consider.
The bigger question might be where to service: some warranties might stipulate some or all servicing is done only at authorised/approved brand dealers, while others might only demand that the servicing schedule is carried out as per the owner’s servicing manual.
Dealers might also suggest that only genuine branded parts are warrantied, and that only genuine parts are required.
Other brands, or older cars out of warranty, are perfectly fine with third party and/or local mechanics. For older cars especially, it’s often a good long-term plan to establish a relationship with a local garage for everything from servicing, to Warrant of Fitness checks or even something as simple as a flat tyre.
Of course, larger brand dealerships often offer a lot more with regard to service, lounges, courtesy cars, extras and offerings, so often it might come down to personal preference and reassurance. There's often minimal difference in the actual processes of mechanical repairs between a dealer and a third party, so it’s these extras that can mean the difference, in the same way that a personal relationship is preferred with a local mechanic.
Ultimately, it’s the ability to meet warranty requirements, the requirements of the vehicle’s service schedule and of course the cost, that will be the deciding factors.