Amanda Tucker has taken savings on replacement parts into her own hands. Pic: Sue Graham
Amanda Tucker has taken savings on replacement parts into her own hands. Pic: Sue Graham

Don’t get stung on a car service, here's what to do

IT was the nonchalance of the car dealership's customer service staff member that completely threw me.

I'd been just been told that my scheduled service on my three-year-old car was going to cost more than $1000 because that's what the logbook required, and that they could book me in tomorrow.

Flabbergasted by the quote after expecting to pay the usual $150-$300, this was the tipping point for my much cheaper future in car servicing costs. I haven't been back to the dealership since.

Research by consumer group Choice found that about half of drivers believed they had to get serviced by their new car dealer to keep the warranty intact, when in fact they were legally entitled to shop around.

Logbooks that come with new cars often promote this myth by leaving spaces for dealer stamps contain persuasive wording, while dealers also promote genuine parts that can be up to 60 per cent more expensive than identical non-genuine parts, Choice says.

However, extended warranties that may kick in after manufacturers' warranties may require servicing at the dealer, it says.

Amanda Tucker saves money by buying replacement parts herself and having a mechanic install them. Pic Sue Graham
Amanda Tucker saves money by buying replacement parts herself and having a mechanic install them. Pic Sue Graham

Apart from shopping around for cheaper but reliable servicing options, there are other ways to save money on car services or repairs:

• Don't blindly comply when a logbook says a part should be replaced - check with your mechanic if it is absolutely necessary or whether it can be delayed until the next service;

• Do-it-yourself repairs have become a thing of the past for many people as the technology in modern cars is akin to a space shuttle's, but some self-education about what may be causing mechanical issues puts you ahead of most consumers.

• Read the invoice and clarify any costs that you don't completely understand.

• Some people recommend sourcing your own parts online or from auto wreckers and delivering them to the mechanic, which may help avoid mark-ups.

Just because car servicing has gone beyond the brainpower of most motorists, it doesn't mean that you should simply accept all quotes and costs without asking questions.



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