The car-dealer-versus-independent-service debate is one that has taken place for as long as many motorists can remember. Although scores of drivers opt for the independent operator on a cost basis after new-car guarantees and service plans have expired, there is much to be said for staying with a dealer for long-term maintenance, asserts Des Fenner, General Manager of Datsun South Africa.
“Despite the intense discussions surrounding maintenance costs – especially common in times when consumers face increased costs across a number of fronts – there are several very good reasons for sticking with your brand and the services supplied by dealers,” he says.
Things to consider about dealership service and maintenance include:
• Your dealer spends every business day dealing with your model. Technicians are trained by the manufacturer and have access to all the resources – including expert advice from specialist technicians – needed to keep your vehicle correctly maintained.
• Technicians have access to the latest diagnostic equipment and software designed specifically for your vehicle. Although independent vehicle maintenance providers may also offer these services, they are often unable to afford upgrades and system additions that may be periodically introduced.
• Parts supplied will be original and supported by the manufacturer’s guarantees. Settling for cheaper parts bought from a spares outlet means you get what you pay for and expensive failures could occur.
• Oils and fluids used to service a vehicle will adhere to manufacturers’ standards. This may not be the case in an independent workshop where a particular type of fluid or oil may be used across numerous makes of vehicle.
• Services and maintenance are carried out according to the list supplied in your car’s service manual. This ensures that it is correctly assessed, services are consistent and replacements that are necessary take place according to schedule.
• Just because an independent workshop has a code reader doesn’t mean they have the full diagnostic package that tests all parts. Your dealer has the full package, which means that expensive guesswork is eliminated when parts are replaced.
• A full service record with dealers is valuable when it comes to selling your car. As these are verifiable by the person buying your car – or by a dealer, for that matter – you will generally get a better sale price or trade-in value on your vehicle.
• In the event of a dispute occurring with a dealer, the manufacturer has the experts and ability to act as an arbitrator and request remedial action from the dealer.
Of course, maintenance is just part of the total cost of ownership (TCO) that comes with owning a car – along with fuel expenses, insurance and interest on loan repayments. One way to keep your TCO low is to invest in an affordable, but modern and stylish entry-level car like the Datsun GO, if you’re currently in the market. Declared by the 2015 Kinsey Report as having the most affordable parts basket in its category, the GO is designed to offer the most economical maintenance costs available in the A-segment.*
“Ultimately, value is in the eye of the beholder,” continues Mr Fenner. “Value can be measured in rands and cents, or it can be measured in the certainty and peace of mind that comes with knowing that your vehicle is getting the quality maintenance it deserves – something that helps increase the serviceability and cash worth of your car.”