Taking your car in for a service can be daunting — even if you score an A+ for car-maintenance knowledge. Each encounter can be different: for example, if you are a first-time buyer, have bought a new brand of car, or are trying out a new dealership. But there are a few things you can do to prepare for your car’s service to create a better experience.
Read the fine print:
Very few people read their car manual from cover to cover, but, if nothing else, you should skip to the part that states the recommended service intervals. This will ensure you don’t miss a service, and keep you on the right side of the manufacturer’s warranty.
Work only with the best:
Have all work on your vehicle done at a manufacturer-approved dealership that specialises in the brand you drive. The benefit is that the technicians become specialists in the brand and receive training from the manufacturer. The temptation to opt for cheaper workshops will always be there, but this shortcut could cost you a pretty packet in the end if the work is not done to manufacturer standards. Be aware that this could also nullify your warranty.
Know the basics:
As well as knowing your car make and model, make a note of your odometer reading, as the service personnel booking in your vehicle will need it. Not knowing such essentials happens all too often, especially among first-time car buyers.
Service workshops aren’t vaults for your valuables:
Many workshops will display notices reminding you that they do not offer a security service for your valuables, so always remove everything from your car the night before it goes in. This includes spare wheel, tools, and non-standard carpets.
Take a few selfies:
When you drop off your wheels, take pics of the exterior and acknowledge dings, scratches, and other markings. Then stroll around your car with a dealer representative so that both parties are aware of pre-existing abnormalities.
What’s that noise?
Be certain to highlight any odd noises you might have heard in the days leading up to the service appointment. Of course, it would be wise to ensure that the rattle isn’t your toddler’s favourite toy that’s recently gone missing.
Reuniting with your 4-wheeled sweetie:
Ask what time you can expect your car to be ready for collection, and enquire if you will be collected from work. The service workshop might call you to discuss elements that fall outside what the normal service covers; should this happen, make sure you understand what those elements are and what they cost.
Car-service intervals are not suggestions by overzealous manufacturers: they are critical for safe driving. They are non-negotiable and form a basic component of responsible car ownership. Being an informed owner goes a long way towards being treated with respect by garage personnel: isn’t that something we would all like to experience? – Vuyi Mpofu (This article first appeared in Sowetan Magazine)