Why Are You Taking Your Car to the Dealership?

New car warrantyI only want genuine parts.
I have to go to them in order to keep my warranty.
They’re technicians are trained for my car
They have all the relevant software upgrades for my cars electronic system.
No matter your argument, we can put forth a counter argument to suggest you are much better off taking your car to a privately owned workshop. We’re not implying this has to be our workshop either. The privately owned shop is a much better option for a plethora of reasons.
Our staff have have experience working within dealerships and have experienced some of the issues we discuss here. Of course not all dealerships are the same, but from our experience the mentality inside dealerships is consistent.
Here is some of the stuff we have experienced that compels us to advise our clients to stick with privately owned workshops.

The first matter to bring to your attention is the two year rule. Whilst there is absolutely no written document to support this, a number of times whilst working in a dealership we were informed  “You have two years to make as much money as you can out of each client”. The dealerships are well aware they do not have a strong repeat client base and are using new clients that have purchased a new car off the show room floor as fresh meat. The theory is that a new client will take twenty four months to realise  they are not getting great value for money and will move to a smaller workshop after that time. At this stage the loss of the client does not matter as the new round of new car buyers are coming through the system. So when you buy a new car it is unlikely you are viewed as a valued client who needs to be looked after, but rather as a short term source of income that needs to be maximised.
New car warrantyThe next massive issue that all dealers seem to try on is the whole “Your car has to be serviced at the dealer to keep your warranty”. THE MOTOR DEALERS AND REPAIRERS ACT 2013 only requires dealers to be responsible for defects. “A motor dealer must, at the motor dealers own expense, repair or make good a motor vehicle sold by the motor dealer, if it is a defective vehicle, so as to place the motor vehicle in a reasonable condition having regard to its age”.On the matter of repairs Section 15 of the same act simply states  “Repair work must be done by licensed motor vehicle repairers”. In other words, to insist servicing has to continue with a dealer in order to maintain the warranty is not supported by the Act and to be told otherwise is a lie.
Our experience is that some dealers will lie to clients and insist this is the case, while many will not give a direct answer and leave the client believing or assuming they have to go back to the dealer for warranty. A small number will tell the truth from the start.
Over time people are becoming more and more aware of this and are moving away from the dealers. To combat this the dealerships have introduced two new systems to try and keep the client coming back to them. The first is extended warranty. Dealers will offer extended warranty, which covers your car for a longer amount of time and kilometers. That amount of time and kilometers exceeds that which is required by law. By offering this extended warranty the dealers can now insist that you bring the car back to the dealer to keep that warranty. In some cases of extended warranty you do have to bring the car back to them for servicing. This is not always the case so be sure to read your contract. Its also important to note here that breaking the conditions of extended warranty by going to a private shop will not break your standard or factory warranty.
Be very careful with these. These are often sold with second hand cars and whilst it may say three years warranty on the window, if you do your research it will not be the warranty offered on a new car that the vehicle manufacturer gives (dealer factory Warranty). Rather it will be a third party company that will be selling the warranty. In twelve years in the industry I have only once witnessed these companies pay up. One out of possibly thousands and on that occasion they only covered the faulty part to the value of a second hand part replacement not a brand new unit. Our advice is don’t even bother paying for aftermarket warranties as they are a complete waste of money.
The second method that dealers are keeping the client coming back is “capped price servicing”. This means your new car can go in for servicing and your bill will not exceed $XXX, whatever that amount may be. Typically this is around the $180 mark. BUYER BEWARE, read the paperwork. There is a long list of repair items this $180 does not cover such as brake pads, disc rotor machining, upsells (which we mention later) tyres and the like. So when you add up your capped price service, and compare it with  your small repair shop it is more than likely that, after five years of servicing your pocket will be better off at the small shop. At best it will be about the same money spent.
After five years of paying $130 for a service very six months, Margaret brings her car to us as she no longer wants to use the dealership. We discover Margaret’s car is close to unroad-worthy as its only ever had an oil and filter change. None of the other filters even got a look in. The tyres are worn out and the brakes are metal on metal. $130 every six months may sound amazingly appealing but if it means after five years you have to throw the car in the bin, is it really worth it?
First hand experience here. We recently purchased a brand new Hyundai I20 from a dealership in the Hills district, when we went through all the service talk, I told them we would not be bringing the car to them as we were mechanics and why would we pay them to do something we specialise in. An argument broke out after they tried telling me that would void my warranty. When the dust settled we took our car and were on our way. Six months later we get a letter in the mail saying were due for our six month service. I ignored this and did the service myself. Then a few days later my phone got a SMS from the dealership stating “Your Hyundai I20 number plate ABC123 is booked in for a service on June 11 at 8am” I rang the dealer to tell them off and they told me it was a mistake and to ignore it. However if I were not more on the ball I could have assumed my wife booked this in and would have dropped the car off. How many people have been sent texts for services they have not booked but fell for the trick, assumed it was automated or that a partner had arranged it and dropped the car off none the less. Not even a grey issue- this is, outright unethical.
New car warrantyThis is how a dealership maximises profit on hours charged out. Legally an apprentice must be supervised by a qualified tech or mechanic. Define supervised? In order for all apprentices to be supervised you would assume they must have one qualified guy per apprentice. Assuming even if that is the case, that’s one for one. Fifty percent of any dealership mechanical staff will not yet be qualified but somewhere through a four year apprenticeship. There is no way of knowing if your car is given to an apprentice. This is required of course in order for the apprentice to learn but our experience from working on the floor at various dealerships is that in most cases they are not supervised until they ask for help, thus things are often missed or overlooked due to lack of experience and supervision.
Obviously the apprentice’s wages are cheaper than those of  a qualified tech so it’s financially better for the dealer to have lots of them. When they complete the apprenticeship most are let go and have to find employment elsewhere to make way for the new round of cheap labour and thus keep the salary costs down.
When you’re paying your bill for a job that took three hours, I can assure you, you’re paying three hours at the normal rate which is often $110-$150 an hour. But there is no discounted hourly rate to allow for the fact that your car was serviced by an unqualified bloke who for the best part was unsupervised.
New car warrantyLet me explain how the system works. You call up and book your car in for a service, and at this point you will be appointed a service advisor however you don’t know it (and it hardly matters). The idea is that one person is the person you will deal with the whole way through the process. On the day that you are booked in you will deal with this same person. Then the car will go into the workshop and mechanic will do the service required and look over the car for any other issues and write them on a job card. Then the job card goes back to the service advisor who will call you to inform you of any additional repairs the car may need and get your authorisation to do them. At this point the upsells get added to the list and you’re led to believe that the upsells are urgently needed and you are none the wiser.
It needs to be said that these upsells are not complete scams. They are what we call preventative maintenance and are not completely useless. However they are not required at every service and are very rarely needed on brand new low kilometer cars. Why is this stuff considered dishonest selling? Our experience at various dealers is that the consumer is lied to in order to get these upsells. Told “We have your injectors out of the car and feel they need cleaning” is an outright lie. In some engines to remove an injector is a many hour job. As if mechanics are removing them! Besides the part of the fuel injector that needs cleaning is an internal part of the injector and can’t be seen anyway. Here is where the penny drops-, service advisors are paid a bonus for every upsell they make. The more they can sell to the client  at the end of the week the more money they take home. So what are the common upsell items.

  1. Automatic transmission fluid flush
  2. Air conditioning disinfectant
  3. Power steering flush
  4. On car fuel system cleaner/ injector flush

All of these items are good for the upkeep of your car but with each one costing around the $200 mark that’s a possible extra $800 ontop of a service you may be getting advised is needed. We have experienced the advisors will not try and sell all of these at once but rather one or two per service so that next time they can sell you the others.
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