A car service is an important milestone in your vehicle's life. Your life depends on your car and on how well you maintain it, and you'd need to be pretty naive to blindly trust just any garage or motor mechanic to do everything that needs to be done. Of course, you'll need to know how to find a good mechanic to start with. But you'll also need to retain control of any servicing or maintenance that is needed, even though you are delegating the actual messy work to an expert. This way you can be assured that your car service is going to go well.
This isn't a matter of in depth mechanical knowledge, but knowing a few simple things will help you ensure that your vehicle is being properly serviced. And that's what we're here to help you with. We've got all the things you need to know before you car service so that you can have peace of mind. So let's get started!
Check Reputations BEFORE You Get a Car Service
Talk to friends and ask where they have their cars serviced. Most people will recommend their mechanic, but pay special attention if they have used the same guy for years because that really means something. Customers don't generally offer repeat business for a long time if they've had a bad experience!
Larger establishments are not necessarily better for car maintenance because every garage can take shortcuts or cheat sometimes and even if there is supposed to be oversight by one of the large car manufacturers, garages can sometimes get away with cheating their customers. Larger garages will usually also be more expensive because the labour rate you are paying also has to cover clerical and management employees as well as the mechanic who is getting his hands dirty, something to keep in mind if you're on a budget.
Check social media pages for accounts of scams and poor practices, but don’t believe everything you read because some of the derogatory posts will be put up by competitors! In general, if you can't get a good recommendation the best places to turn are either a dealer of your car make or your insurance company. A Toyota dealer, for example, will often know the best Toyota mechanics, whilst insurance companies often use the same recommended mechanics for repairs after an accident (and it's in an insurer's best interest to have an affordable and trustworthy garage do repairs!)
Before a Car Service, Check Your Maintenance Plan
If you have a car maintenance plan then check what’s covered and any conditions related to car servicing because you might get your car serviced for free, depending on the plan that you have. You need to be aware of the plan’s conditions, exclusions and limitations, especially those regarding what garages you can take your vehicle to. Read through the small print of your maintenance plan (or extended car warranty) so that you know what you're entitled to.
Know Your Car Service Schedule
Your car owner’s manual will contain a service schedule that lists everything that needs to be done at each car service. If you go to a main dealer for your vehicle the mechanics will be familiar with the schedule for your vehicle and will have pre-printed check lists to work through. If you go to a general garage they’ll only guess what's on the list of jobs that need to be done, even though they could download it from the manufacturer’s website (for mechanics, as for everyone else, time is money, so they might not take that extra step!).
Copy or download the list of service items for the service you are having done and hand it over with your car keys when you drop off your car. It will be a longer list if it is a 36 month service than if it is a 12 month one and most garages will only do a 36 month service if you ask them to do so. They will keep doing 12 month services year after year because these are simple and they won’t have to quote you for expensive parts and more labour that the 36 month service requires.
There are some jobs that you might expect to be covered under a scheduled service which are not actually covered at all. If you want your headlights adjusted or wiper blades replaced you will need to mention this because these important everyday driving issues are not generally covered in a standard car service.
Know Your Car’s Service History
If you’ve bought a used car then you should assume that the last service was not done, unless the service book is stamped by a manufacturer-approved garage since people tend to skimp on servicing when they are planning to sell their cars. Even if you buy an ex-fleet car you should assume that services were minimal because fleet users know that they can usually get away with not replacing things when the manufacturer says they are due. If at all in doubt, it's better to play things safe and have an extra service done than it is to skip the car service altogether. Remember that your life could be at stake!
Common Car Service Shortcuts
It's good practice to check up on certain things that are commonly skipped by some garages when doing a car service. Charging for oil and air filters that have not been replaced is a common trick, for example. Checking the air filter is simple enough, and is not even a dirty job, but checking the oil filter is extremely messy, so just scratch the top of the filter before you take the car in and you will be able to check at a glance that it has really been replaced.
Some mechanics will charge for original manufacturers’ parts and fit cheap Chinese-manufactured parts or even none at all. Ask for all replaced parts to be given back to you in the boxes that their replacements came in, that way you know exactly what brand of brake pads or air filter has been used and you have the old parts back so you can check if they actually were worn out (or get someone else to check if you're not a real motor head!)
Any Extra Faults
Most cars develop intermittent faults that come and go depending on the weather and all kinds of other things. If you notice something in particular, then you will need to describe the symptoms of these faults to the service receptionist because the chances are that otherwise the standard car service is not going to check for more unusual problems.
If you find your car handling strangely or wandering off course when you take your hands off the steering wheel then the wheel alignment (tracking) will probably need adjusting. If you need to charge up your battery all the time, then use the car service to get a new car battery fitted. It will save time in the long run if you have these little issues taken care of at the same time as your car service, and you might even save some cash too since the car is already being worked on and it can be easier to do certain jobs at certain times.
Come Away Happy!
If you follow all these steps then the chances are that you’ll come away with a perfectly functioning car, fully serviced and running sweetly, until the next time. Being an informed owner will ensure that you are treated with more respect by any garage you go to for a car service, as well as meaning that you can be sure your car is safe on the roads. Happy driving!
Main Subject: car service
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