Saving on car maintenance

22 April 2013

Keeping up with car maintenance costs if you don’t have a service plan can be really expensive, but there are ways you can save money on the costs of repair if you know how says Nicolette Dirk.

Without a service plan or car warranty, the average service could cost you a few thousand rand, which excludes the expense of paying nearly R13 a litre for petrol. Then there’s the looming 5,3 % increase for vehicle registration and license fees which Western Province motorists will have to fork out from June onwards.

But before you put that ‘For Sale’ sign on your car’s back window, read our advice on how to to minimise your car service costs.

Don’t take car service at face value: Being in the motor industry for almost three decades, Robbie Twigg, a self-employed mechanic, has come across many mechanics who try to pull the wool over unsuspecting customers’ eyes.

“Some mechanics will service people’s cars without doing the basics like changing the car’s plugs and filters. Changing the car’s disk pads is also usually included in a service but if it can last another 6 to 8 months some mechanics don’t change it,” said Twigg.
He says that people who do not have knowledge of cars are also sometimes overcharged for parts.

According to Aidan Van Den Heever, RevvedUp’s motoring blog writer, some backdoor mechanics will use second hand or cheaper parts when servicing your car and charge you the full price of a new car part.

“If you don’t know much about cars, it is best to see your mechanic with someone who has some knowledge of cars. Another option is to go for a second or third quote before having your car serviced. Even a dubious back door car mechanic won’t try his luck to overcharge if you come armed with some knowledge of how much your service should cost,” says Van Den Heever.
Avoid being penny wise and pound foolish

Servicing your car at the dealership you bought it will save you a lot of hassle because reputable companies are more regulated than backdoor mechanics. You also have the option of taking your car back to your dealer, if you are not happy with the service.
According to Christelle Fourie, managing director of MUA Insurance Acceptances, clients of MUA that have a warranty have to go to service shops approved by the dealer.

Maintaining your car can save you money
Fourie says that doing your own basic car check-ups can save a lot of money. “Regular check-ups on your tyres are very important because many people’s claims for accidents are rejected if the insurance finds that the accident was caused by worn-out tyres. It is better to pay that extra R1 000 to replace your tyres than to pay up to R400 000 for a car written off by an accident,” says Fourie.
Fourie also warns insured motorists not to delay servicing their cars because should you get into an accident and it is proven that it was caused by your car not being regularly serviced, you risk losing your claim.

Here are Justmoney’s tips on cost-saving maintenance:
1.    Regular oil checks are a must: If they oil is not cleaned on a regular basis, you could end up paying thousands to fix up for your car’s engine.

2.    Check your tyres regularly: A threaded tyre not only decreases fuel efficiency, but also increases your chance of getting into an accident. Under-inflated tyres create drag which uses more petrol. Pumping up your tyres increases your mileage by 3% per litre.

3.    Change your air filter regularly: A dirty air filter decreases the amount of air flowing into your engine and lowers fuel efficiency.

4.    Do not skip your car services: Skipping a car service is a ‘penny wise pound foolish’ mistake that could cost you thousands in the long run.

5.    Check that your car’s tyres are the same size: If tyres are not the same size it causes drag, which affects fuel efficiency and causes the engine to work harder.
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