Car ownership comes with many dreaded expenses. There’s the cost of the car itself in ongoing repayments, then the insurance, the registration, the roadside assistance, all of the fuel… and the most dreaded of all, the car service. Although it’s never fun to shell-out for a service, the consequences of holding out from one are by far more expensive, and of course, outright dangerous. With over 1,183 road-related fatalities occurring over 2019 in Australia (a 4.6% increase from 2018, according to BITRE ), protecting ourselves on the road is of maximum priority. Servicing your car not only ensures it’s in excellent road-worthy condition, but it also extends the longevity of your car and maintains its resale value. After all, it’s always exciting to look forward to an upgrade someday.
So, car services must be done – that now goes without saying. But what exactly is involved? And how often should you go? And how do you make sure you’re not getting ripped off? Well, Novus is here to share a little insight into the car servicing world.
Novus’ Complete Car Service Guide
A car is a huge investment. Whether you’ve just bought your first car, or your first REAL car (you know, your first adult car that you really can’t afford to scratch), you’re going to want to look after it. So, the first step is to call up your closest (or most trusted) mechanic or dealership for a service.
Still on the hunt for the perfect family car? Novus breaks down some of the best makes and models for 2019. Check out our best family cars article right here!
Where to go
Deciding on which place to go is one of the hardest decisions when it comes to servicing your car. After all, you don’t want to get taken for a ride, so to speak. There are a few key options for you.
- Go to an independent mechanic
- Go to your car make’s specific dealership
- Go to a dealership for a different make of car
Going to a dealership is a preferred option for many. Dealerships are bigger and often contain more parts, meaning you don’t have to wait as long for parts to be ordered in (if in fact it is a service that requires the replacement of parts). Going to your car make’s specific dealership may also come with advantages. The mechanics will be more familiar with your car’s model, making the service run more smoothly. Again, parts may be more easily come by.
Going to a mechanic is a good option if you’ve got a trust-worthy mechanic in mind, particularly as this might be your most inexpensive option. As independent mechanics rely more on customer loyalty to keep you coming back and keep them in business, they are typically more willing to give you a competitive price. As big dealerships receive a continuous flow of customers, they aren’t as hungry for your business. If you don’t have a mechanic in mind, you can always Google nearby mechanics. Remember to read the Google reviews to inform your decision.
Before you call
Now that you’ve decided where to go, you’re ready to book in. Before you do book in, it’s a good idea to check what you’re in for by referring to your owner’s manual or log book (sometimes the same book). Your owner’s manual or log book should indicate your car model’s correct service intervals – what to get serviced once you’ve reached a certain mileage. Your owner’s manual is also where your car’s previous services will have been logged. Previous mechanics should have indicated what was done to your car during its service to guide future mechanics on when items may need replacing. In general, budget direct recommends servicing your car annually or every 15,000km, whichever comes first.
A typical service
The parts examined, refilled, or replaced depends on the kilometres passed on your service and the state of the parts themselves. Typically, your mechanic will perform a standard service which includes the tasks outlined below. If anything is in need of an urgent fix, your mechanic will contact you to seek approval or to discuss a plan of action. Most mechanics will give their honest opinion on whether something needs changing immediately, or if it can wait until the next service. Most mechanics will also give a price estimate or quote on the additional parts needed for any major changes, including labour costs.
- Replacement of engine oil fluids and filter to keep your car running smoothly
- Radiator coolant + hose replacement – the hose is the weakest structural component and is made of flexible rubber to absorb vibrations of the car.
- Power steering fluid – cars with hydraulically-assisted power steering need fluid checked and topped up.
- Lights check:
- Fog lights
- Hazard lights
- Reverse lights
- Brake lights
- Tyre check – for wear and tear and to ensure they have the correct pressure, alignment and balance.
- Steering and suspension check
- Brakes check – brake pads need to be measured and fluids will need to be topped up.
- Seatbelts check
- Air filters – these aren’t for air con, but for your engine. Clogged air filters may result in the underperformance of your car’s engine.
- Battery – checks for corrosion and battery fluid replacement.
- Transmission check
- Fan belts – these put together essential engine components.
- Air conditioning check
- Exhaust – this controls the emissions from your car and helps convert harmful emissions into less harmful ones before they get released into the air.
- Spark plugs – these provide more info on the health of your engine.
- General weird noises – a mechanic will usually do a test drive to look out for any abnormal sounds.
Servicing a specific part?
You don’t have to wait until your next service to get a mechanic to repair or check a specific part of your car. You can service specific features of a car by finding specialist mechanics or repair experts. For example, you wouldn’t go to a mechanic for a touch up on a paint job (you may not need to go to one at all with the right hacks! ). Depending on the quality of the job you want done, you’ll probably need a professional body shop rather than a mechanic.
If you encounter a broken or cracked windscreen, there’s also no need to book in for a full service. Let’s face it, no one has the time to go into a dealership or mechanic, and driving around with a cracked windscreen is dangerous. Thankfully, Novus drives out to clients to repair or replace broken windscreens . We’ll also check your wipers and replace them if needed too! Check out our full list of services here .
Duration & cost
One of the biggest challenges while servicing your car is going without your own personal transportation. You never realise how much you take your car for granted until you have to figure out how to catch public transport. At least most dealerships will drive you home or to a preferred location to help you out. Some dealerships will also provide a loan car, depending on how long your car will be in the shop. So, how long will you be sitting around while your car’s out of work?
Well, if you’re receiving a basic car service, the service may only take a couple of hours (just enough time to duck off to the shops). However, a full or major service may require longer. Expect to go a full business day without your car. If parts are required to be ordered in, this process will take even longer (anywhere up to two weeks depending on the parts). Your mechanic will let you know what day and time they expect to be finished.
Cost, on the other hand, really depends on the place of service, the make and model of the car, and the years of ownership. A basic service may cost $185 to $2,225 depending on these factors. To help you out, some car brands provide a calculator for you to check before booking in. For example, Ford provides an online service calculator for Ford owners. It’s a good idea to check for a price calculator for your own car’s make.
Looking at a major service? These are typically more costly; however, should you not be able to pay the entirety of the cost upfront, many dealerships provide repayment options.
How to avoid getting ripped off
If you’re not familiar with cars or car parts, you may feel apprehensive about getting a car service in fear of being scammed. While it does happen, it doesn’t happen often. Most businesses want to keep their reputation in-check and their customers loyal, so it most likely won’t be an issue; however, there are some things you can do to ensure you’re getting a fair deal.
- Firstly, feel free to ask and search around for a good mechanic. Don’t forget to check reviews online!
- Get a quote – this is more applicable for specific areas you need serviced. Although, it’s a good idea to ask for an estimate cost prior to servicing your car.
- Get a second quote or opinion – this means you can confirm that the price and advice you received is fair and accurate.
- Ask for an itemised invoice – here you can see exactly what you’re paying for, including parts and service. Challenge items you don’t believe are fair or don’t make sense.
- Keep all of your records in your logbook/ owner’s manual – ensure that the mechanic has recorded your service. If you’re advised about certain parts needing changing, you should be able to track when they were last replaced to help inform your decision.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions or let your mechanic know that you need to consider their advice.
- Make a complaint if you think you have been taken advantage of: You can complain to the Motor Trades Association for your particular state (if the mechanic is a member), or to the office of fair trading or consumer commission for your state.
Services are just one of those things that are unavoidable. Thankfully, we often expect their arrival (unless you’ve been holding off). To keep your car performing at its best, and to keep your peace of mind intact while travelling, remember to book in your regular services. It’s a new year so let’s stay safe and improve those road statistics.
For reliable and high quality repairs to your windscreen, talk to the experts at Novus Autoglass. We’ll always assess the damage to give you the best advice before undertaking your windscreen’s repair or replacement. Book an appointment with your closest expert on 13 22 34.