5 Tips to Avoid Bill Shock at Your Next Car Service

When you’re running around playing boss-lady or merely drowning in day-to-day work, keeping up with car services can be the last thing on your to-do list. Annual trips to the mechanics are usually headache material. And with some of them charging more than lawyers to get the job done, the list of ‘essentials’ to fix can make skimping on your service a valid and oh so welcoming alternative.

Unfortunately though, cars (as we know) are expensive money pits. Car maintenance bills are on the rise – and if we can make cuts, without jeopardising on the level of service, then why on earth wouldn’t we!?

Almost every car owner has a dealership or mechanic shop horror story to share. Or at the very least, you’re left shaking your head wondering why you’ve charged for certain repairs. Don’t get stuck wasting time and money with your next service. Here are a few smart ways to avoid that bill shock, so you can get back to doing business again:

1. Get Your Car Serviced on Time, Every Time

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but missing car services (especially major ones), is a recipe for disaster. As tempting as it is to skimp on scheduled services, it can end up costing more. A lot more. There is lots at stake for those prepared to take the risk too. If your car is a newer model or you purchased it from a dealership, not sticking to your servicing regime can void the warranty. Along with the extra shock from additional repairs you didn’t budget for, these costs are quick to accumulate.

Older cars that don’t have warranties to be wary of should be given a service at least once a year. Most manufacturers recommend every 6 months or 10,000km, whichever comes first. It’s always a good idea to check your service book or with your dealership for the best routine for your car though. Failing to service your car on time can result in

2. Invest in Novated Leasing

If you don’t have the time, patience or money to focus on regular car services (let’s face it, that’s most of us!), there is an easier and more cost-effective way out.

Investing in a fully maintained novated lease ensures your car is up to date with services and keeps it roadworthy, safe and relatively inexpensive to run. Regular car maintenance and servicing are both included in a novated lease, which utilises your pre-tax dollars to pay for the damage. This eliminates the hassle of putting funds together for services that seem to pop up at the last minute and keeps all the essentials packaged and pre-authorised under your lease. For those leading busy lifestyles, working full time or running a business, this can be the ultimate solution for keeping service costs to a minimum and staying on top of car maintenance.

3. Determine Whether it’s a Major or Minor Service

Major and minor services tick off different checklists, altering the overall price significantly. If you’re aware of what service you’re walking into, the costs associated with it may be less of a shock. Naturally, major services will cost more. But it doesn’t mean there’s no chance of getting left with a hefty bill for minor services too.

Minor services are generally done every 10-15 thousand km depending o the manufacturer. They’re usually quick, and include changing the oil and oil filters, checking brakes, fluid levels, steering and suspension and a few other small but necessary jobs. A basic service will cost about $140. On the other hand, a major service should be done ever 30-45 thousand km. The price of a major service can vary depending the make and model of the car. These include all the regular checks plus various tests and replacing of parts.

Make sure you do your research before taking your car in for a service. If you don’t have to stick to dealer servicing for warranty cover, track down a good independent garage to use instead. This will save you a considerable amount and such workshops often provide the best car-related service.

4. Read the Fine Print on Capped Servicing

Getting your vehicle serviced shouldn’t be expensive and unpleasant. The good news is, many places now offer capped or fixed-price servicing, which takes the guesswork out of those dreaded maintenance costs. As with any great offer though, it’s vital you read the fine print to avoid getting ripped off. Yes, it still can happen!

Capped servicing plans vary in duration and coverage. Some only cover a number of services and others are for a new-car warranty – make sure you’re paying for the right one. Fixed-price services will still have upselling extras too. Workshops may use a higher grade of oil which adds to the final bill. Check all the details prior and ask questions if unsure.

5. Keep Things in Check between Services

In-between the mound of paperwork and dropping the kids to school, there are regular things you can do to help reduce the cost of your next service. Running a car is expensive. But there are monthly actions to take which will make it more fuel efficient and help reduce the next service’s bill.

Regular services with a trusted mechanic are paramount to the life of your ride and keep it roadworthy, safe and relatively inexpensive. There’s nothing worse than taking your car in only to get a call to say it will be 1000s of dollars you hadn’t budgeted for. But with a few smart tricks, it’ll stay reliable for that little bit longer.

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