You may hear a friend or family member exclaim that they "got a great deal on their car service for only $200" or that their car is "expensive to service with their last visit coming in at over $1000" but, without any context, these statements do not reflect on the cost of maintaining their particular vehicle, nor of the pricing of the mechanic that serviced their vehicle. Let's explain why-
What affects the cost of a service?
There are 4 key factors that affect the cost of a car's service and they are;
1- Vehicle Make & Model
With regards to the make and model of a vehicle, the cost for a comparable log book service on a BMW 5 Series is likely going to be different than that of a Suzuki Vitara due to the nature of the vehicles in the way that they are constructed, their fluid capacities, their size, the technology used in the vehicles and much more.
2- Service Interval
With regards to the service interval that the vehicle is due for, if we look at the service requirements for our Suzuki Vitara using the Mechanic.com.au 'Get an Estimate' tool, we can see that the 40,000km/24 month scheduled service comes in at $433-534, whereas the 100,000km/60 month scheduled service comes in at only $229-283. It turns out the reason for the difference is that the 40,000km/24 month service requires the replacement of the spark plugs, brake fluid, air filter, engine oil and oil filter, whereas the 100,000km/60 month service only requires the replacement of the engine oil and oil filter. As you can see, 'cherrypicking' the cost of a random service interval in order to make a judgement on the maintenance cost of a vehicle or the competitiveness of a particular mechanic is not very helpful.
Now that we have established that the make and model of the vehicle, as well as the service interval that the vehicle is due for, have a significant impact on the cost of a service let's look at the two other key factors that determine servicing cost.
There are two ingredients in the recipe that will make up the invoice for your next car service and the first ingredient is the parts. As you will see when generating an estimate on the Mechanic.com.au 'Get an Estimate' tool, there will be a list of parts that are required for your specific car service. For some services, this might be as simple as Engine Oil and an Engine Oil Filter, but for other services, might include any number of replacement parts such as spark plugs, brake fluid, timing belt, fuel pump modules and more. Irrespective of how few or many parts are required for your service, the cost of these parts can vary significantly depending on whether manufacturer-branded parts or quality aftermarket parts are used.
The other ingredient in our servicing invoice recipe is labour, or, in other words, the time that it takes the technician to complete the service tasks for the particular service interval that your vehicle is due for. The required time for each service interval has already been determined by the manufacturer of your vehicle. Let's take our Suzuki Vitara 40,000km/24 month service example from above which specifies that this service should take around 1.75 hours (105 minutes). In theory, whether a technician at the dealership or an aftermarket workshop completes this service, it should take around the same amount of time. The difference incurred to you as the customer will often be the labour rate that is charged by the dealer vs the aftermarket mechanic.
How are car service intervals determined?
It takes car manufacturers anything between 8 and 10 years to develop a new model. Some of this time is taken up by testing new technologies and finalising the external design details, interior trim, and developing tools to assemble the new car.
More of this time is taken up by testing the new design to make sure it properly protects its occupants in various types of accidents. However, most of the development time is taken up by testing the new car under real-world driving and operating conditions for several years.
During this time, new cars are driven in cities, in deserts, in icy conditions, in wet, humid places like rain forests, and on both gravel roads and highways until something breaks or wears out. In some cases, this test phase can last for several years and include driving the vehicle for up to a million or more kilometres.
The car manufacturer uses this time to see why components and parts on the new car break or wear out. Based on this information, the manufacturer then develops a service schedule that is designed to prevent parts from breaking down or wearing out during normal use of the vehicle.
New car designs sometimes include newly developed engines and power trains. Therefore, the vehicle manufacturer also monitors the rate of mechanical wear in these components during durability and reliability testing. This information is used to determine which engine oils and lubricants work best, and how often lubricants must be replaced to best protect the engine and powertrain against excessive wear.
So in practice, a new cars’ service schedule is developed along with the car. If this service schedule is followed, it is highly unlikely that mechanical components or other components will break down or wear out prematurely.
How can I save on car servicing?
Of the 4 key factors we identified above, the first two; being the Make & Model of your vehicle and the Service Interval that it is due for cannot be changed. They are what they are, regardless of where or how you get your vehicle serviced.
As you may have guessed, with the last two; Parts and Labour, there are some seriously compelling options available that can result in a comparable, if not in many cases, better service experience at a better price than what you are accustomed to.
Method 1: Use a Quality Aftermarket Mechanic instead of going back to the dealer
Many new car buyers fall victim to the impression that they need to get their car serviced at the car dealership in order to maintain their new vehicle warranty and while there are some cases where this is true, it is an area that is commonly misunderstood by unsuspecting new car buyers. You can read more about this here.
Additionally, many new car owners might believe that aftermarket mechanics might not have access to the required equipment, information or knowledge to competently carry out log book servicing on their new car, which in some cases may also be true.
If you decide to engage an aftermarket mechanic to carry out log book servicing on your new car, there are particular criteria that they need to adhere to when servicing your vehicle. All Mechanic.com.au Preferred Providers take a pledge assuring that they comply with these requirements including but not limited to ensuring that they employ suitably qualified automotive technicians and maintain their expertise through ongoing training and development, use only quality spare parts when carrying out service or repair work on a customer's vehicle and ensure that workshop equipment and tooling is kept up to date in order to be able to deliver the highest standard of service.
Method 2: Use Quality Aftermarket Parts rather than Manufacturer-branded parts.
You may be familiar with the term 'Genuine Parts' or perhaps slogans spruiked by car companies such as 'Genuine is best'.
Despite claims made to the contrary by many dealers, there is actually no such thing as a ‘genuine’ part, since all high-quality replacement parts are manufactured for car manufacturers by licensed third parties that supply both the original equipment manufacturers (OEM) and aftermarkets with the same parts. Therefore, the only thing that can make a particular part “genuine”, and then only in a somewhat roundabout way, is when the part comes in packaging that bears the car manufacturer’s name or logo. For this reason, a better way of referring to “genuine” parts may be manufacturer-branded parts, and as noted, these same parts may be available for purchase in the aftermarket. You can read more about this here.
Using Quality Aftermarket Parts instead of Manufacturer-branded parts can often represent a significant cost saving for car owners and in many cases, these Quality Aftermarket Parts companies such as one example; leading filtration company Ryco Filters provide an assurance that their filters meet or exceed the specifications of the OE 'Manufacturer-branded part'
What might you take away from this? Perhaps that it is possible for aftermarket mechanics to obtain parts that are equal to, or better than the specifications of the parts that the car dealers may use (depending on the part) and pass these savings on to you!
How much will my next car service cost?
Our 'Get an Estimate' tool enables to you find out how much you can expect to pay for your next log book service should you choose to use a Quality Aftermarket Mechanic who uses Quality Aftermarket Parts. Simply follow the 3 simple steps and an estimate that is unique to your vehicle and next service interval will be generated. It's like magic!
After you've generated an estimate, you can go ahead and request a quote from one of our Preferred Providers that is close by to you. Experience the benefits of using a Quality Aftermarket Mechanic for your car's log book servicing today!