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Choosing Between a Franchised Dealer and an Independent for Servicing Your Car

Choosing Between a Franchised Dealer and an Independent for Servicing Your Car

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Automotive Journalist & Featured Author for Swansway Group, John Swift, discusses the difference in Car Servicing from a Franchised & an Independant Dealer.

Where Should You Have Your Car Serviced?

Automotive Journalist and Featured Author for Swansway Group, John Swift, discusses the difference in Car Servicing from a Franchised and an Independant Dealers

Many drivers make price the first, and sometimes, the only factor they consider when deciding where to get their car serviced, but you should take a minute or two to consider a few other factors which could very easily save, or cost, you a lot more.

You can look at the large and impressive showrooms and service bays at a franchise dealership and think it all has to be paid for and that will be reflected in the labour charges and the eventual bill. You may equally look at the far less lavish facilities of an independant, or a national chain, and like what you see with the promise of lower overheads resulting in a smaller charge.

Here we look at the pros and cons, starting with the issue of your legal responsibility under the terms of a finance contract.

 

Legal responsibility

The overwhelming majority of privately owned cars up to three years old will still be under the terms of the PCP finance agreement you made with the dealer. One of the conditions, probably the most important, is that the car is serviced annually or within the guidelines set down by the car maker.

No one can dictate where you get the car serviced, but what the dealer is absolutely within their rights to do, is to reject the quality of the maintenance when you return it at the end of the PCP contract.

PCPs are based on the guaranteed future minimum value of the car you are driving and a huge element of setting that value – which in turn dictates your monthly payments – is that it will be sold on to the second hand market with a full main dealer service history.

In short, if your vehicle is still within the PCP term, just take it back to the dealer you had it from for its yearly visit to the workshop.

 

Warranty

If the car is still within the manufacturer’s warranty – and this can range from three to seven years – then you must take it either to a main dealer, or to a warranty-approved independant, to retain it.

Again, no one can tell you where to go, but just as with the PCP, the manufacturer is quite entitled to reject any future claim for a repair to be done under warranty if it has been taken outside of the dealer network and serviced, to what it considers be, unacceptable standards.

Is this putting unfair and undue pressure on you to keep returning to a main dealer? Not really, it’s just the finance providers and the manufacturers fairly protecting themselves for having to later pay to put right something that would not have happened if the car had been looked after as it was designed to be.

 

Car complexity and service bulletins

Today’s cars are very complex, with several thousand components, but it is not just the bits of metal and plastic, but the increasing level of computerisation.  Just imagine how complicated the control systems for a hybrid car must be, with both a petrol and an electric motor, or the automatic safety systems and their various sensors.

Inevitably things go wrong, but manufacturers are always informed and send service bulletins to all their dealers when there are any updates on identifying and fixing issues.

The problem may originate from the way the cars are assembled or from a faulty batch of components supplied to the factory, but their dealers and approved service centres will be kept in the loop.

One final thing about the growing digital complexity of modern cars is that dealers must invest heavily in diagnostic equipment so their technicians can `interrogate’ the cars. Not many businesses will be able to, or would want to invest in that considerable outlay.

 

Recalls

These may be a lot more common than you think. In 2016 1.7 million cars were recalled after their manufacturers were alerted to the possibility of a fault which could affect the safety or running of a model.

The problem will be sorted free of charge but only if the car is returned to a dealer.

 

Costs

OK, this is getting to the crux of it now but you have to bear in mind that there are two parts to this.

At the basic level an independant will probably charge around two thirds what a franchise will in hourly rates.

The flip side of saving on the one hand, can cost you a lot more on the other. You can read any online guide you like, but all will say that a car with a full main dealer service is worth a lot more than one without and more, a car without a history may simply not be bought at all.

As a ballpark figure one with a full main dealer service history, will be worth at least 25 per cent more than one without. Taking an average used car price of about £7,500 that means skimping on servicing will cost you some £1,875.

Worth thinking about…

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