Car Servicing


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Tonight a truth in the car industry dealers and mechanics don't want you to know.

For years we've been led to believe you have to get your car serviced with your dealer, or lose your warranty. That is just a myth. But it's a myth the car industry is happy to perpetrate.

For car dealers the big money used to be in sales - not anymore. The real money these days is service, parts and repairs. And they'll do whatever it takes to make sure you go back to them when your car needs work.

Glen Campbell wants to shatter the myth that only a dealer can service your car. Look what happened when he compared two different dealer's prices.

Glen drives a Mazda BT50. It's identical to a Ford Ranger. In fact they're both built at the same factory using exactly the same parts but Mazda charges more than $300 to do the exactly same service on exactly the same car by threatening to disqualify your warranty.

And that's the lie car dealers scare you with. If you choose to have your car serviced at a non dealership, your warranty ends - simply not true.

"You don't have to use factory parts, provided the parts adhere to what the manufacturer specifies, you can use whatever brand you want." Toby Hagan from is hardly surprised by these dirty tricks. "Australian law says they can't force you into taking it back to them. Free market, you can take it to where ever you want within reason."

And its not just Mazda, pick a car, any car. We compared prices for a 90,000km service on three everyday family cars. The Holden Commodore, the Toyota Camry and the Ford Falcon. We took them to 3 dealer service centres, 3 franchise repairers and 3 independents.

The three Holden dealers ranged in price from the mid $300's for the service through to more than $400 dollars.

The franchise repairers like Midas, Ultra Tune and K-mart tyre and auto were marginally cheaper.

The real savings came with our independent mechanics - $170 cheaper than the dealers and all about the same price...$250.

Over at Ford and again the dealers prices varied massively. The cheapest at $380, right up to $540 for the 2004 Ford Falcon. Kmart was the cheapest of the franchise repairs while Midas was the most expensive. Our independent mechanics again came in under par, the cheapest costing just $170.

Toyota services were expensive to say the least. Two dealers costing more than $600, only one was cheaper at $220. The franchise repairers were pricey as well... from the low $600's up to $840. Again the humble mechanic was cheapest yet again although their prices varied massively from $195 up to $560.

"We really have competition to thank for this otherwise we'd be locked into the bad old days where we'd have to go to one provider and they could charge us what they wanted and there'd be nothing we could do about it" says Christopher.

Choice Magazines Christopher Zinn believes competition is not only healthy when it comes to cost, but also quality. The consumer watchdog has been comparing car dealer service centres with some surprising results.

"We took some various cars to dealerships to ask for various safety checks to be done and we found in terms of the dealerships there was a poor quality of service Many of the safety items are not really checked, tires were not checked, brake lights, even in some of them they didn't check the level of brake fluid in the reservoir which was quite low," said Christopher.

"When your car disappears down a dark dealer laneway, you don't know whether you have a licensed technician, or they're running a high percentage of apprentices. It can happen," says Gus.

Gus Owers runs a good old fashioned local garage. He claims he charges less, does better work and his guys are all fully qualified.

"You're talking to the guy who is going to work on your car. Ask him for his credentials, what license state do you have? Are you an apprentice? Those questions all need to be asked and you'll find your local smaller garage will all be licensed experienced guys," adds Gus.

"Generally the labour rate is instantly cheaper. The labour component , you'll save money from directly, secondly your running high quality generic parts that are meeting new warranty standards which are cheaper than genuine across the board, so yes you can save on parts and labour," says Gus.

And when you find a good mechanic, hang on to them.

"A good mechanic's like having a good GP in the family, its got to be someone you can trust with the safety of your car" says Christopher.