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UPDATE: Has your car actually been serviced?

19.02.2016

TWO weeks ago, I shared some tips on how to check whether your car has been serviced. The article received some great responses from many readers. It has come to my attention though that there was a specific point which had many a workshop owner confused or upset. I, along with the editor value the feedback from our readers so I have decided to elaborate on a specific point, seeing as though I have space now to do so.

The point in question is as follows: It is important to get a detailed list of the work that the mechanic plans to do and the projected costs and timeframes. Again, do your homework and research the cost price of spares that may be needed. Remember, though, that the mechanic will add a mark-up to the parts and will charge for labour. What I used to do was find out what parts or consumables they need and I would head off to a retailer and get the parts, asking for a discount. I’d then deliver the parts to the mechanic. This could save you a few hundred Rand.

I suggested that it could save you money if you source the specific service parts yourself. I know from my personal experience that it did save me money. However, that said though, I owned a Volkswagen Citi Golf, my uncle owned a workshop and my friend’s dad owned the spares shop. The parts came with a friendly discount and I bought my uncle a few beers to service my car. He did tell me that I got the parts a lot cheaper than what he would have gotten them for.

If your uncle does not own a workshop and your friend’s dad does not own a spares shop and you want your car serviced then yes, take the car to a reputable service workshop where qualified mechanics can attend to your car. It has been pointed out that many customers do try and source their own parts and end up buying the wrong parts. This can cause some serious inconvenience for both the service workshop and yourself as your car will have to take up needed space for longer.

As we have a variety of readers, it is wise to note that not all of us can afford going to a franchised service station with qualified mechanics. Many in fact do get someone with some sort of mechanical knowledge to assist them in servicing their car on a Saturday afternoon. It is for this reason that I still suggest you get a detailed list of the parts that you need for your car and go and find the best quality for the lowest price.

If you can afford to take your car to a recognised service workshop, which I do recommend, don’t bother getting your own parts. These workshops tend to have agreements with parts suppliers already and they also carry guarantees on their parts and the work done. Many quality workshops have been awarded an RMI certificate (Retail Motor Industry). This obligates them to follow certain codes and conducts, which is a good thing for the customer.

I still recommend that you take the time to know exactly what needs to be done to the car, which could not only help the mechanic but will give you a better understanding of the maintenance procedures of your car. 

As I pointed out in last week’s article, this applies to cars that do not have manufacturer service plans. If you are driving a car that is a year old and still has a service plan then take it to the dealership and let them sort it out for you. If you have an older car and cannot afford the premium service costs from the dealerships then do some research and find a reputable workshop that fits your needs and wallet.

As I found out from the amount of emails within this past week, there are many, and an equally large amount of people wanting their cars serviced.

Article from 2016/02/05:

I frequently get asked by many of my lady friends to go with them when they take their cars in for a service as they are afraid that the mechanic spins them a story and takes advantage of their lack of knowledge about the car and its parts. This got me thinking; how many people out there take their cars in for a service and get taken for a ride? What steps can you use to avoid such an incident and what can you do when you find out that you have paid for a service and the mechanic didn’t change everything that you were billed for?

No this article does not necessarily pertain to vehicles that are within a motorplan. It is mostly for people with older cars that go to private service stations. Now servicing your car can be a daunting experience. While there are many reliable, and reputable, operators on the market, there are those who take advantage of a lack of knowledge of modern vehicles, in order to cheat consumers.

How many you might ask? Well the Motor Industry Ombudsman (MIOSA) handles more than 4000 calls a month. Any disputes relating to work done on your vehicle can be forwarded to this body for dispute resolution, but it can be avoided with a little forward thinking by the owner. According to the Automobile Association (AA) it is important to do your homework before selecting a technician to work on your vehicle.

Sounds easy but is it? How does one go about finding a reputable service station? Here are some things that might make the task of servicing your vehicle a whole lot simpler:

Word of mouth is a good way of determining who the good mechanics in your area are. But, as a responsible owner, you should also be visiting workshops, and speaking to the mechanics to get a feel for how they operate and what their hourly rate for labour is.

Inspect the workshop. A clean workshop where everything has its place sends a far stronger message than a workshop that is dirty and cluttered, and where the mechanics don’t know where their tools are.

It is important to get a detailed list of the work that the mechanic plans to do and the projected costs and timeframes. Again, do your homework and research the cost price of spares that may be needed. Remember, though, that workshops will add a mark-up to the parts and will charge for labour. What I used to do was find out what parts or consumables they need and I would head off to a retailer and get the parts, ask for discount. I’d then deliver the parts to the mechanic. This could save you a few hundred Rand.

When your car is ready for collection, inspect the engine for signs that the work which has been billed for, has been done. It may not always be possible to see what was done, but you may, for instance, be able to see that a new fan belt has been fitted because it will look new and have easily identifiable numbers on it. If you are unsure of what was done, ask the mechanic to go through it in detail with you. Also, request to see the old parts that were taken out. Most reputable places put the old parts in the boot of the car.  If you have any concerns about the work that was performed, go back to the workshop immediately and speak to the mechanic. If you let a third party work on the vehicle before taking it back to the person who worked on it first, you may have no recourse. It is also important to go back to the mechanic as quickly as possible, and not wait too long before doing so.

It is also important to keep track of your repair and service history, to protect you in future and to assist your mechanic with his diagnostic process. Remember that cheapest is not best. If you are unsure of a quote because it is too high, get a second quote, or cost the parts yourself through a parts dealer.

We hope that this has helped you when it comes to getting the right treatment for your car. Do your homework before you go and service your car. Even if you know just 10% of the process or of the parts its better than nothing, people will think twice about trying to do you in if you have some inclination to what needs to happen.

Article written by Justin Jacobs
19.02.2016
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