Tips on Servicing and maintaining your car

No one wants to pay hefty car repair bills, and hence it is essential to look after the car properly. Here is why you should befriend your car’s service manual and how must you locate a good garage at a fair bargain:

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How much does a car service cost?

Usually, the basic car service comes at an average price of $175. However, you can negotiate for it to be cheaper if you compare your options while shopping around.

However, if your car requires changing of parts, replacements, repairs, they will all come at an additional cost.

How often should a car be serviced?

The car needs to be serviced at least once every year to keep it in the best possible condition. However, it depends also on mileage milestones and the age of the car. For instance, you may have had the car serviced 7 months back but if you’ve driven more than a particular distance, you may require oil change. All these essential parameters will be reflected in your car’s manual alongside any other tasks that need to be completed.

Caring for your car saves money

While it may appear costly, the yearly servicing actually saves you money as it prevents serious problems and also ensures better resale value and a longer car life.

Moreover, fuel efficiency is more in a well-maintained car. You’d also need to have a completed service record in case you need a claim on the warranty.

Get to know your car’s service manual

The key to keeping your vehicle working and in good repair is the car’s service manual. People involved in designing your car write the manual and it will reflect:

  • When will the replaceable parts need to be changed?
  • How often must you get the car serviced?
  • How frequently do the regular maintenance tasks like oil changes need to be carried out?

The service manual will also help you estimate the costs of the maintenance and prevent you from spending more at the recommendation of dealerships.

Watch out for dashboard messages

Most issues, including those with braking system, oil and coolant levels, engine, and tyre pressure, are now displayed as warning message on the dashboard of the car.

The manual further explains these lit-up warnings and the action you must take to handle the situation. This cannot be ignored as a few warnings are urgent and require you to pull off the road and stop the engine.

The cost of skipping servicing

It may tempt you to skin the servicing if the car hasn’t been used much lately or if you are low on funds, but you are risking much bigger bills later.

Replacement of any damaged parts may cost up to ten times or even more than the amount you’d spend on getting the car serviced.

Keep an eye on the cambelt

Your service manual will advise on when the cambelt has to be replaced (typically after 75000 miles of driving).

While it may seem expensive, it will cost much more to have the engine damages repaired in case the cambelt fails while driving.

Look after your tyres

Not only to save money but also to remain safe, it is essential that the tyres are in good condition. Stick to the tyre pressures recommended in the manual and ensure that the alignment remains right.

Choosing where to get your car serviced

Dealerships are usually 50% more expensive that the independent garages due to staff commissions and higher overheads. However, in case there is an issue with the car, the dealership with the franchise for the make of your car is more likely to understand the fault better.

Finding a good independent garage

You can rely on friends or colleagues for recommendations. Always opt for a garage that provides good quality work, transparent pricing, and clear information regarding any faults in the car.

How to complain about a garage

In case the quality of work, the charges, or the customer treatment is unsatisfactory, you may find out your legal rights and claims against the garage on the internet or through your lawyer.

Tips for getting a fair price

Check the service manual for the type of servicing that your car requires and the tasks and checks that will be performed on the car. Next, follow these tips to get a fair bargain:

  • Ask for the price breakdown at the garage to know what are you paying for.
  • Check whether the garage is adhering to the manufacturer’s procedures and using original or equivalent parts.
  • Get quotes from multiple garages before deciding on one.
  • Even if you have a garage decided, you can negotiate on the basis of a cheaper quote you received elsewhere.
  • Ensure that you compare like for like, with similar services and parts.

Ask for an estimate if the garage is unable to give the exact quote and you may ask them to contact you in case the amount is exceeding a particular budget.

Remember that car servicing is an investment, not an expense!