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Guide To Main Dealer Servicing

By Stephen Turvil | June 8, 2016


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Benefits of main dealer servicing explained, plus payment options and ensuring a manufacturer warranty remains valid.

Guide To Main Dealer Servicing

What is servicing?

Main dealer servicing ensures a car is safe, reliable, nice to drive, extends its life and minimises how much value it loses per-annum. Let us consider why. The term “service” means to complete a series of checks and maintenance tasks. But not all services are created equal and what is necessary varies from vehicle to vehicle.

On this basis, the manufacturer creates a service schedule and its own means to refer to varying levels of care. It might refer to “minor” and “major” services, or “interim” and “major”, or “inclusive” and “inclusive plus”. There are numerous possibilities.

The schedule might reveal that a vehicle requires a minor service at 12,000 miles/1 year (whichever is sooner), a major service at 24,000 miles/2 years, followed by another major service at 36,000 miles/3 years. The service schedule might then repeat indefinitely.

The result of these efforts is that the vehicle earns a service history. The term “full history” means it has been serviced – from the moment of registration to now – on the time frame specified by its manufacturer. The term “part service history”, in contrast, reveals it has been cared for but not as frequently as recommended.

Main dealer service payment options

Main dealers tend to offer more than one means of paying for services. The Ford Protect Premium Plan, for example, relates to new cars – and those yet to require a first service - and incorporates a single payment which covers servicing for up to three years. Ford suggested this option cuts long term expenditure. 

Ford Protect Service Assure, in contrast, requires fixed monthly instalments that spread the cost of servicing. The manufacture claimed this helps motorists budget and protects against inflation.

Alternatively, Peugeot Just Add Fuel is an all-inclusive finance plan. The fixed monthly instalments cover the cost of the vehicle itself plus its: servicing, insurance, excise duty (road tax), warranty, and roadside assistance for the duration of the contract.

Then there is the traditional pay-as-you-go option. Main dealers often have a fixed price structure to ensure transparency. Within this, cost can vary based on the model and fuel type. Expensive, complex, cars tend to require more care than basic cars, after all. 

Typically, expect to pay the most to service a diesel-powered vehicle, slightly less for a petrol and much less for any electric. 

Servicing ensures safety

The primary purpose of servicing a vehicle – however it is defined - is to ensure it is safe. A basic service might include a visual inspection of the brakes, for example. A more comprehensive package might include work to optimise performance by (say) removing corrosion from the brake discs and slack from the handbrake cable. 

Furthermore, new windscreen wipers improve visibility, replacing blown brake bulbs minimises the risk of a rear collision, and ensuring the tyre pressures are correct optimises the handling and braking. Further reassurance might come via confirming the condition of the: suspension, fuel pipes and any electrical wiring.  

Reliability enhanced by regular maintenance

Servicing also keeps a vehicle reliable by identifying minor gremlins before they cause a breakdown. The battery, for example. It is better to learn early that it is weak - then replace it, of course – because a poor battery might struggle to start the engine.

Furthermore, servicing might reveal that the radiator hose is on borrowed time. Perhaps it is brittle or cracked. Far better to replace it before it splits and causes the engine to overheat/stop.

Consider the exhaust too. Servicing might include a visual inspection that reveals one of the mounting brackets is rusty and likely to fail. Again, recognising this enables steps to be taken to prevent a failure which leaves the car stranded at the roadside. 

Mechanic's efforts keep vehicle nice to drive

Main dealer servicing also ensures a car feels nice to drive (and is a nice place for passengers). The engine works at peek efficiency thanks to new spark plugs, for example. Furthermore, the mechanic might: lubricate door hinges, enhance the feel of the power steering by replacing its fluid and change blown cabin bulbs.

Servicing extends vehicle life

Servicing extends a vehicle's life too. With age, engine oil becomes less effective at minimising friction between internal components. Friction causes wear and tear, of course. Furthermore,  oil minimises corrosion but its effectiveness diminishes over time. 

Minimise depreciation via regular care

With a handful of exceptions, a modern car loses value every year but service history slows its decent. Why? Because it proves to potential buyers that it has been cared for and, by association, is more likely to be safe and reliable than its unloved counterparts.

Main dealer servicing ensures warranty remains valid

Servicing at a main dealer also ensures that any manufacturer warranty remains valid. It might otherwise be argued that a lack of care – as specified at the point of sale - contributed to a fault so the manufacturer is not required to correct it (free of charge).

In theory, servicing can be completed by a non-main dealer without invalidating the warranty. But the mechanic must work to manufacturer guidelines; and that can be hard to prove. A full service history from a franchised main dealer eliminates ambiguity. 

Other benefits of main dealer servicing

Servicing at a main dealer has other benefits too. These include:

  • technicians have manufacturer/model specific knowledge that cannot be matched at independent garages;
  • technicians have access to manufacturer/model specific tools;
  • guaranteed use of manufacturer parts rather than lesser copies;
  • access to services not easily available elsewhere such as software updates;
  • services might be recorded via the manufacturer's computer system which – unlike a paper service book – is hard to fake.

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