How To Know If You Are Being Ripped Off For Your Car Service

Your car has gone in for a service, and you have just received that dreaded call. Are you being ripped off?
Sherryn
de Vos
Published: Thursday, February 16th 2017
General
Let’s face it, most of us only know enough about cars to know when to put in petrol and, maybe, how to change a tyre. So, when it comes to servicing the car, most of us are in the dark as to what needs to be checked and replaced. We have all been in the situation of someone from the workshop calling, letting us know that all of the brake pads need to be changed, the fan belt replaced, and basically the entire vehicle restored. Granted, not all workshops are like this, but most do bank on you not knowing the ins and outs of what a service entails. We thought we would help you out and let you know what is normal and not normal when servicing your car.
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The State Of Cars On The Road

A study recently done on cars currently on the road came out with some interesting statistics:
  • 25% of cars had low or dirty engine oil.
  • 13% had low or contaminated brake fluid.
  • 18% had dirty air filters.
  • 17% had inadequate cooling protection or low coolant levels.
  • 16% needed new windshield wipers, and 27% had low or contaminated washer fluid.
  • 18% needed new belts
So, if you are going in for a routine service, make sure you know what needs to be checked and what is most likely to be dirty or in need of replacement at that point in time.

Oil And Filter Change

These need to happen at regular intervals; at least once a year or so. These changes make sure that the air filters are clean and that your car is not running with dirty oil. These changes are relatively inexpensive and easy to do. In fact, you could possibly do them yourself!

A Basic / Interim Service

As a rule of thumb: do not ever allow a workshop to go ahead with any repairs or replacements without you seeing a quote first. When you drop the car off, make it specifically clear that, should they need to do anything outside of a standard service, the may not without your explicit permission. You do not want to rock up at the workshop and get a shock of a R10,000 bill. A basic car service will include:
  • Clean Air Filter
  • Oil Change
  • Oil Filter Change
  • Liquid top up: washer fluid, brake fluid, anti-freeze, steering fluid
  • Brakes Check
  • Wiper Blades Check
  • Light Bulb Check
  • Battery Condition Check
  • Steering Check
  • Tyre Check
  • Shock Absorber and Suspension Check
  • Checking of all belts and hoses
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Major Service

A major service will replicate all of the above checks from a basic service and then add more changes and checks on top. Your engine will also be cleaned, with a chemical solution, to rid it of the daily dirt and grime that has built up. Your car will also be thoroughly inspected from front to back, to ensure that there are no faults or problems. A major service will include:
  • Change Spark plugs
  • All fluids could be replaced: washer fluid, brake fluid, anti-freeze, steering fluid
  • Check and possible replacement of all belts, hoses
  • Auxiliary Drive Belt Check
  • Checking Wheel Alignment
  • Wheel Bearing Check
  • Balancing of the wheels
  • Brake Fluid Condition
  • Fuel Filter
  • Change Air Filter
  • Belt checks and possible replacements
  • Brake pad check and possible replacement
If you are contacted about something that seems quite excessive, like a fan belt change, we recommend you visit your car at the workshop. Ask your mechanic to point out the fault and talk you through the options and the faults. Do not simply agree to any major repairs. If in doubt, try and get an independent second opinion from someone with some knowledge on the topic.