What Are You Actually Paying for When You Get Your Vehicle Serviced?

There is a drastic difference between a vehicle service chain charging $99 for an oil and filter change and a private workshop charging $250 for what is perceived to be the same “service”.
So what is the difference and why should you be educated on this?
A full service should involve a comprehensive inspection of the vehicle. With this should come a report on the condition of the vehicle. This inspection should include everything from one end of the vehicle to the other. Interior control operations, suspension, battery, filters, oils, breaks and tyres, so on and so forth. A decent, thorough inspection should take a competent tradesman at least an hour to carry out. In the case of larger vehicles including four-wheel-drives this could be longer.
After completing this inspection the consumer should now be up to date and have an accurate snap shot of the condition of their vehicle.
This time needs to be paid for and as such most workshops carrying out a service with the full inspection will need to charge upwards of $200 to cover this time spent.
Fun fact, driving a motor car causes it to wear out. Be mindful of any service that comes with no additional repairs advised. Driving a car will cause things to wear out and the manufacturers are deliberately designing vehicles to deteriorate in order to make sales on spare parts. A good quality service and inspection will identify these items that are wearing out or broken and advise their replacement.
Many shops operating attempt to compete with the market by competing on price. They offer a low cost “service” in the hope to get several customers on a budget coming through on any given day. Whilst this business model is perfectly ethical, consumers are often misinformed as they believe that once the oil and filter change has been carried out they have a safe and reliable vehicle. This is not the case with low budget servicing.
$99 service: This is not always limited to services so low in cost but as a general rule if your paying less than $180 for a service, chances are you are getting a oil and filter change only. It is unlikely that your vehicle is getting inspected thoroughly. The average hourly rate for a workshop in Sydney is $110 an hour. If a service is happening for you for $99 which includes the oil, the filter and the sump plug washer, there is zero chance you are having a mechanic spend an hour checking and reporting on the condition of your vehicle.
There are many workshops operating who offer a low cost oil and filter service and many consumers feel they are getting a full service. What is in fact happening is these low cost shops are relying on quantity over quality and are pumping through as many oil and filter changes as possible in any given day. There is little to no time spent inspecting the vehicle. If there is inspections of vehicles happening it is usually high ticket items being checked such as brakes and tyres in an attempt to get quick sales of high profit items.
Almost any human being can carry out an oil and filter change, YouTube has hundreds of how-to videos showing DIY people how to do this. You can waste your Saturday at Super Cheap Auto, then go home, use your wifes Tupperware to drain the oil into, discover the container is not big enough and and spill used diesel oil all over your landscaped driveway. If you’re lucky enough you won’t double up on oil filter seals or cross thread your sump plug. Realistically its not hard and any monkey can do an oil and filter change. What level of service do you feel you’re getting by paying for something that Peter from across the road could do for you for a case of beer and a sexual favour.
Whilst both business models are ethical and legal, consumers need to be informed and make educated decisions.
There is a whole different argument when it comes to what the dealerships are charging and which of the two services discussed are being carried out. This article is not intended to smear the dealers feature, however we advise our readers to be mindful and diligent when assuming that a more expensive service is better. In some but not all cases consumers are paying the premium price for the lower level of “service”.
When all is said and done, we advise consumers to stick with workshops that do the dearer servicing and offer comprehensive reports on your vehicles conditions. You as the consumer have the choice as to weather or not to carry out these recommended repairs.
Getting upset at the Service Advisor and utter the sentence “you always find things wrong with my car” is a little ironic given that you are paying for that inspection. By issuing that sentence or similar statements you are effectively saying you’re willing to pay for the more expensive style of service but are expecting the cheaper oil and filter only.
Getting a list of recommended repairs for your vehicle is not your mechanic money grabbing, its your mechanic offering you a high level of service and you should not be surprised by this.
Now you know. a cheap service is an oil and filter change only and a dearer service is a decent inspection of your vehicle. Now you can choose what you would rather pay for.

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