Cheap Services (Ha Ha Ha)

Traffic light shopping has got to be the highlight of my day. In Gauteng you can do your monthly shopping at the traffic lights and receive pamphlets on every service under the sun. The pamphlet that always catches my eye is the “Major Service …from R799” one. At least they have the good sense to up the price every year…..

After I stop laughing, I take one and skim through it. The claims made are laughable because the garage will be working for free if they carried out all the checks and replacement of parts as stipulated in the leaflet. It is a sure way of getting a cash strapped customer into the shop and then bush whacking him or her.

Ten minutes after you have dropped of your car, at the workshop, your phone rings…..I will give you one guess as to who it is….Got it in one….Yes it is the repair centre, letting you know that practically every other part on your motor vehicle has to be replaced. The service is still R799.00 but all the other items that are damaged or badly worn, will cost you R5000.00. Did you have any idea that you were driving a death trap?? or that your car was in such a state of disrepair?

The motor vehicle may need the extra repair but did you budget for that…….A sure fire way of getting you to do the repairs is to tell you that the extra they now quoting you, is for safety critical items.

Let me give you an example of the cost to do a basic oil and filter change on a modern car that only uses fully synthetic oil. R1200 to R1900 depending on the vehicle. That includes the oil filter, 5 to 8 litres of fully synthetic engine oil and labour.

This totals up to R1500-00. This bill does not include the fact that there is no percentage added to the parts. You also need to remember that the price quoted for the labour is just to replace the parts that are listed and not to do any of the other checks necessary on a major service. The parts are also cost price to a service centre. This shows you that a major service can never be done from R799-00, under any circumstances. The mention of genuine replacement parts also is a little confusing to me, as my knowledge of parts is limited to genuine parts from the manufacturer or replacement aftermarket spares. I have yet to see a part that is a combination of the two.

The after market service centres or non dealerships that are in the know, and do really good work, are well aware of the fact that these ridiculous claims of servicing your vehicle cheaply do not exist. With the motor industry code of conduct and the CPA(Consumer Protection Act) I can fore see a few of these places, that have these absurd offers, not staying in business for too long.

The old saying of “If something looks too good to be true, it is”, is absolutely perfect in this instance.

The absolute best check for me is the so called “visual check on driveshafts, steering, fuel lines and cooling system”. So these guys are so damn good they have x-ray vision and can check the state of wear on the cv-joints on the side shafts. What they mean to say is that they will have a 5 second glance at the state of the steering rack boots and the cv-joint boots on your car. The cooling system on the other hand is completely different and needs to be pressure tested to determine if the pipes are still in good condition and the radiator does not leak. You have to be a psychic to just visually check them and be able to determine their state. The pressure test on your cooling system and a removal and check on the radiator cap can and may save you a very costly repair. So a visual check can only be done by superman. These checks can add a further 30 minutes to the time allocated to the service.

Don’t look for the bargains when wanting to service your vehicle….they don’t exist (the bargains that is). Go to your regular mechanic and ask him to give you a written quote for repairs on your car. If the quote is reasonable, but you may have a problem with paying the entire amount, ask him which items need to be fixed urgently and which items can wait until the next service. He will also advise on safety critical items that need to be replaced before anything else. This is a sure way of ensuring that your vehicle is always safe and your never miss a service.

Sagie Moodley