Car Buying Costs: Exposing Car Servicing & Maintenance Myths

Welcome back to our series on car-buying costs, covering the three major expenses associated with vehicle ownership: purchase price, maintenance, and insurance. We hope you enjoyed our look at car pricing and finance myths, and we know you’re anxious to compare car insurance myths and realities. But, for now, let’s switch gears and assess the facts and fiction of car servicing.

After doling out a fortune for your new car, you want to keep it running smoothly and minimize the costs of upkeep. Perhaps the dealer told you one thing, your regular mechanic told you something else, and your dad is offering his advice on maintenance musts. What’s truth and what’s fiction? Read on as we clear up some common car maintenance myths.

You need to change your engine oil every 5,000 km

This is an outdated piece of advice that many auto service centres continue to promote. The reality is that every car manufacturer recommends a different interval for changing the oil, and many vehicles can go 10,000 km without an oil change. Check your owner’s manual to learn how often you should be changing your oil, but keep in mind, the oil will need to be changed more frequently in severe driving situations such as regular stop-and-go driving, dusty conditions or mountainous terrain.

Your car doesn’t need servicing until something goes wrong

Would you rather be on the road when you car breaks down, or would you rather spot a problem before it leaves you stranded? Regular servicing can identify issues, minimizing the chances of a breakdown and possibly even avoiding an expensive repair bill. It also ensures roadworthiness and promotes longevity of the mechanical equipment and dependability of your car.

If all that’s not reason enough, here’s a biggie: not performing regular maintenance could void the warranty of your car. All cars require servicing at different intervals, so refer to the owner’s manual to determine what maintenance is required and when. Make sure to keep track of all servicing in the vehicle log book. When it comes time to sell, proving it’s been well maintained might boost its resale value.

Service performed outside the dealership can void the car’s warranty

A dealership is in the business of selling things: cars and maintenance. It will nearly always recommend its own service shop for maintenance because it wants to continue making money off you. But it’s a myth that getting your regular service performed elsewhere will void the warranty. The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) says: “…motor vehicle dealers are entitled to insist that any servicing performed on cars they sell is carried out by qualified staff, according to the manufacturer’s specifications, and using genuine or appropriate quality parts where required. Provided these conditions are met, regardless of where you choose to get your car serviced, your warranty will remain intact.” Beware, however, that if a non-genuine part fails and somehow damages the vehicle, the warranty may not cover the damage.

Mechanics have your best interest in mind

Many mechanics are trustworthy individuals who know what’s best for your car. But there are others out there who might try to take advantage of you by selling you services you don’t need. Like car dealerships, auto repair and service shops are in the business of making money.

So how can you tell if a recommended service is unnecessary? The easiest thing to do is compare the mechanic’s recommendation with the service requirements listed in your owner’s manual. It will tell you how often you need to replace the various filters, flush the fluids, and replace parts such as shocks and spark plugs. You could also get a second opinion. The advantage of doing this is, if it turns out the service is necessary, you already have two quotes.

Phew! There’s a lot of myths out there about car servicing. Hopefully this has cleared up some of the confusion, and maybe even helped you save some cash. Join us back here soon for the final instalment of our car-buying costs series. We’ll look at car insurance, compare the cost factors and sort out the facts and fiction. Happy cruising!

Disclaimer: Every car-servicing situation is unique and the Captain can’t guarantee the above tips will prolong the life of your car or result in cost savings. Bottom line, if you’re concerned about your car’s upkeep, consult your owner’s manual and don’t let concerns go unchecked.