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Vehicle Maintenance Tips to Avoid High Service Charges

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 7 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Motoring Vehicle Servicing Vehicle

Motoring isn't a cheap hobby any more. If the cost buying a car and keeping it topped up with fuel, tax and insurance wasn't expensive enough, you've then got to add on the not inconsiderable cost of vehicle maintenance. Repairing it if anything goes wrong and having regular services to avoid that happening can cost you an arm and a leg. Car parts can be really expensive, particularly if you have a high performance, modified or exclusive car, and the cost of labour and service charges can be even more so - especially if you need a specialist mechanic to fix the problem for you.

Is There Anything I Can do if my Car Breaks Down

As with most things, there are ways that you can keep the cost of any major repairs down - and the most effective way is with good, regular maintenance checks. Checking your car regularly won't stop your car from breaking down now and again, but what it will do is allow you to spot any problems early on - meaning that you can stop the issue getting worse and in turn, keep the cost of the repairs as low as possible.

Why are Repairs Getting so Expensive?

Cars, especially new cars are becoming more and more sophisticated all the time, and this means that garages need more specialist mechanics, mechanics need more specialist training, parts are more expensive, and a lot more parts are assembled in units - which means that rather than replacing a small part of your car that goes wrong; you have to replace the whole unit. This can be costly and frustrating, because you can end up paying out for a whole replacement unit when there's only something small wrong with your vehicle.

So What Can I do to Keep the Cost Down?

Regular Maintenance

  • As mentioned earlier, regular maintenance checks will make sure that your car stays in tip top condition and will help you to spot any problems before they become major issues

Make the Owner's Manual your 'Bible'

  • The owner's manual that should have come with your car will give you all the information you need on basic maintenance - such as how inflated your tyres should be, what type of oil you should be putting in the vehicle and how much weight your car can safely carry. Keep the manual handy, and refer to it whenever you need to check something out

Keep on Top of your Oil Changes

  • As a rule of thumb you should aim to change the oil in your car every 3-5000 miles. If you do a lot of city driving then you should do it more frequently.

Keep up With your Car Services

  • As mentioned before, small problems noticed earlier are far less likely to develop into bigger, more expensive problems.

The Price

It's always a good idea to ask for a ball-park price before you put your car in for a service. The garage should be able to give you a basic price for a service, and you can then choose whether or not to authorise the mechanics to go ahead and carry out any repairs without consulting you. If you are worried about the cost, or the integrity of the garage, then there's no harm at all in asking them to do a simple service, oil change, brake fluid change etc., but asking them to contact you if they think that more expensive repairs need to be carried out.

Getting the Bill

When you get the bill, you are entitled to ask to see any parts that the mechanics have replaced. If the bill is more than you were told to expect and you haven't authorised the extra work, then you can ask for a manager to give you an explanation as to what has happened, and if necessary, take it further and seek legal advice. If you intend to do this, you need to first make sure that you haven't signed anything giving authorisation to the garage to carry out any repairs that they deem necessary.

The most important thing to remember when putting your car in for a service is to make sure that you leave express instructions on whether or not the mechanics should carry out any work on your car without further authorisation. If you make this clear, then you shouldn't have any problems - and if you do, you've got a good standpoint to start from if anything goes wrong.

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