Car manufacturers know that no-one likes paying for car servicing. It’s a necessary evil after the purchase of a car! Not so long ago each dealer could charge whatever they wanted to for servicing, and if you didn’t shop around you could end up paying a lot more than you needed to. The mystery that used to surround the cost of car servicing has been removed over the last few years and now most car manufacturers can supply you with a schedule of service costs for at least some part of the life of your new car. Servicing charges should be included with any new car cost guide because it is a major and ongoing part of the cost of your new vehicle.
After all, if there are 2 very similar cars that you’ve narrowed your search down to and one of them costs you hundreds of dollars less in servicing over the first 5 years of ownership, it could certainly sway your decision!
Compare Service Costs and Frequency
As well as knowing what charges you are up for during the life of the car, this also gives the opportunity to compare the cost and frequency of servicing your car as part of the research before you buy.
Why would you do this? Apart from variation in the cost of the servicing, there is big variation in how often you need to get a car serviced. While Mazda, Subaru and Hyundai have servicing every 12 months, Honda and many Toyota’s require 6 monthly servicing. If it’s inconvenient for you to get your car to the dealership, or to be without your car, then having to take your car in for servicing twice as often could have a big impact on your purchasing decisions. Because of this I’ve given a summary below of the car service interval (how often you have to take it in for service) and also the period of capped price servicing available.
Capped Price Servicing
Capped price servicing (CPS) is now offered by most of the big selling brands. This sets a maximum amount that a dealer can charge for each type of service through some period of the vehicle’s life. It can be for 3,5 or 6 years or even for the full life of the vehicle. The schedule gives the number of months or kilometres between different services, and you get it done when you reach one of those markers.
There are different Capped Price Servicing arrangements depending on the make and model of the car. So, for example, Mazda offer CPS for all current models for the lifetime of the car; while Holden offers it on all models for 3 years or 60,000km (whichever comes first); and Ford on all vehicles built since 2007 for up to 7 years or 135,000km.
But What Does ‘Capped Price Servicing’ Cover?
Of course CPS doesn’t cover everything that you might need to replace or repair on your car. The things that are NOT included in the CPS generally includes replacing tyres, wheel alignments, replacement of fuses, wiper blades, brake pads and discs, batteries and any other ‘normal wear and tear’ things; crash repairs or fixing any parts that you added to the car after purchase. They DO include labour and parts specified in the service schedule. Check the fine print for whether they include fluids like coolant, brake fluid and oil because this varies between service agreements. Often you will find the details in the list of the service schedule where they say ‘Inspect’ wipers, brake pads, fluid levels and filters rather than ‘Replace’.
Servicing For Time or Kilometres?
They provide a time and kilometre guide for servicing because if you don’t drive your car very far, or very often, you should go with servicing by the months guide. If you do a lot of driving you will be using the kilometre guide. So whichever one you reach first, months or kilometres, that’s when you should take your vehicle in for a service according to the manufacturers.
Capped Price Servicing Offers:
Here’s a summary of some of the servicing offers of popular makes. Things can change though, so make sure you check with the manufacturer for specifics on the model you are looking at buying.
Subaru – their capped price servicing is for 3 Years/75,000km (for the BRZ it is 3 year/60,000km) They include all oils and fluids and the environmental levy. Their service interval is 12 months/12,500km.
Holden – you can find out the cost of the next scheduled service for every Holden ever built since 1948! Their service intervals are every 9 months or 15,000km.
Volkswagon – their schedule is every 12 months/15,000km and the calculator on their website gives you the price of the standard scheduled services for the first 6 services up to 90,000km.
Mercedes Benz (except Smart) has capped price servicing for the first 3 services.
Kia – 7 year capped price servicing, which matches their 7 year warranty period. Their website gives online quotes for the next service.
Mazda servicing is due every 12 months/10,000km. They give capped price servicing for the full life of the car. You can go to the Mazda website, type in your registration or VIN and it will give the price of your service.
Hyundai are offering their Lifetime Service Plan which is due every 12 months/15,000km. On their website you can enter your car Model, Year, engine size and transmission type and it will give you the nearest 3 maintenance schedules.
Toyota – their Toyota Service Advantage covers the first 3 or 4 years (depending on the model you buy). The service interval depends on the model but as a guide most vehicles are every 6 months/10,000km, increasing to 9 months/15,000km for the Camry and Aurion.
Mitsubishi –their service interval is 12 months/15,000km and their Capped Price Servicing Program runs for up to 3 years.
Honda – their Tailored Service Program has a service interval of 6 months/10,000km and their Service Price Guide gives a 5 year list of the required services and the Service Price with a list of ‘Adaptive Items’ that come at an additional cost. These items include the pollen filter, brake fluid, and fuel filter ($206 every 80,000km).
Ford – their service interval is 12 months/15,000km and their Service Price Promise covers all vehicles built since 2007 for the life of the vehicle. You can enter the Year, Model, Style and Engine on their website and it will give you the details of the required service. It gives the Standard Service Price and then prices for additional service items such as Brake Fluid replacement (every 2 years), coolant replacement (every 10 years or 240,000km) and Timing Belt and/or Drivebelt (every 195,000km). It also gives you a printable quote for your next service which is valid for 30 days.
Nissan – their capped price servicing covers the first 6 years/120,000km and the service interval is 6 months/10,000km.
There are a couple of other servicing arrangements available that you might be interested in:
This tends to be offered by luxury car manufacturers. This locks in the pricing at the time of purchasing the car, but can mean that you have to go to a particular car dealership for the servicing. It is paid for at the same time as purchasing the car, or any time up to the first scheduled service. For example, BMW offer prepaid servicing on certain models for 5 years/80,000km, Audi offers prepaid for some models for 3 years or 45,000km, and Mercedes Benz up to 5 years or 125,000km.
With the pre-paid plans, some of them will also include the ‘normal wear and tear’ items that can be additional costs with the Capped Price Servicing.
Sounds like a dream come true right? There are a couple of manufacturers offering free servicing! If your budget stretches to them, Ferrari offers free servicing for 7 years on all current models; and Jaguar offers free servicing for 3 years or 100,000km on certain models.
There’s an incredible amount of variation in how often you need to take your new car in for servicing, and in whether you can get a quote for the Capped Price Service through the life of your car. Then there is variation in the actual cost for individual services. Be sure to think about this when buying a new car just so you don’t get a surprise 6-12 months down the track when your first service is due!
I remember when I had my first car, a little hatchback, and I took it in for a service and was charged over $1000! They saw me coming and insisted I needed new tyres and everything else they could possibly do to it. Hopefully you haven’t had an experience like that but if you have I’d love to hear about it. I wonder whether Capped Price Servicing would have reduced the cost of my $1,000 service?