Looking at cars and not sure about all the terminology? Buyers often ask about capped price servicing, what it covers, and whether it’s worthwhile.
Car jargon can be confusing, and unless you’ve spent a lot of time with your car in a garage recently (hopefully not!) you likely won’t know how much to expect to spend on ongoing professional car maintenance.
So, once and for all – what’s the deal with capped price servicing? Is it worth opting for this over pay as you go servicing? Here we cover much of what you need to know.
What’s covered by capped price servicing?
Capped price servicing for your car (sometimes also called fixed price servicing) means that the costs of specific, scheduled vehicle services are known before they happen. They’re transparent in that they’re made available to you when you buy the car.
With this type of servicing agreement, the manufacturer determines:
- the service intervals
- the work that takes place at each service
- the length of time they’re valid for after buying the car
So regardless of where you buy your new Toyota Yaris, the capped price servicing costs, intervals and timeframe will be the same.
As for this set amount of capped servicing time, it can vary widely. For some manufacturers, it’s the first three years, some for five or six, and others (like Hyundai) offer lifetime capped price servicing.
It’s important to note that the capped price services only cover the planned-for services and their associated parts and labour. If any other work needs to be done during the service which isn’t included in this, it is not covered. So, you will need to pay extra.
Further, you can choose to take up or not take up this type of servicing option. You may want to use your own car doctor (if so, here’s how to choose a mechanic) rather than committing to the manufacturer-approved one. Your choice.
That’s the basics of what capped price servicing is. But what are the pros and cons, and is it worthwhile?
Is capped price servicing worth it?
Is it better to go for the capped price servicing offered by the manufacturer of your car, or to take your wheels to a local mechanic? To be honest, there’s no right or wrong decision. It depends to a large degree on your personal circumstances, what you’re most comfortable with, and what’s offered by the manufacturer.
Each capped price servicing plan will differ slightly due to the model and manufacturer of your new car. For instance, they will often (but not always) cover replacement or checking of the basics, such as:
- Engine oil and filter
- Air filter
- Coolant, brake and transmission fluid
- Spark plugs
- Diagnostic check
The main thing to remember? Check the fine print. Some fixed price servicing programs don’t include things you might expect to be covered, and others are valid only for the warranty period. And beware the “upsell”, too! Read our car servicing checklist before you go in.
If you do have a servicing plan, also make sure to double check the costs before you book your car in. Just in case something has changed.
These are all basic, but essential parts of managing your car maintenance.
Is fixed price servicing or a local workshop a better idea?
The good thing about fixed price servicing is that you’ll be able to see in advance how much each service will cost. However, often these prices are a bit higher than what you’d pay at a local workshop.
This is because the manufacturer has specialist mechanics and technicians, as well as all the relevant diagnostic tools at their disposal. Plus, their staff is likely to be highly experienced in working with only one or two different vehicle brands.
On the flipside, your local workshop may not have all the newest equipment available because it can be pricey. Especially if they work on multiple car brands – they’d have to invest in a lot of different technology to cover multiple manufacturers’ cars. So you may not get the kind of expert servicing you’re expecting.
That said, you do get local mechanics who specialise in certain cars, and depending on the work needed, a specialist may not even be required. If you do go with a local mechanic, make sure to get a quote before the work starts so that there’s no nasty surprises when the bill arrives. Reading this will help you never have to ask ‘is my mechanic ripping me off?’
Many people often enjoy the more personalised service you get at a local, non-manufacturer-specific workshop. You can build a relationship with your trusty mechanic and might find that you get better value for money and good advice
Of course, if you’re some kind of car whiz then you might even be able to service your car at home. But that’s not for everybody! If you’re curious, find out what car maintenance tasks Australians are able to perform at home. Hint: there are some big discrepancies based on age.
Capped price servicing: A few extra things to remember
When you buy your car, you should ask a few questions. These include:
- Is capped price servicing included with your car?
- If so, how long it is valid for, what does it include and where are the approved workshops?
- Can you upgrade or extend if you want to?
You should also find out whether you need to choose annual services or kilometre-based services (or both!).
Make sure there’s no fine print you’re not aware of.
Pssst..if you’re desperate for a new car but don’t have enough in the bank, here’ are our tips on saving for a new car in 2021.
Car insurance – the perfect pairing for servicing plans
Whether you opt for capped price servicing or not, car insurance can provide an additional safety net for your motoring lifestyle. No servicing agreement will cover the cost of having a collision…but your insurance will be there to provide a soft landing.
Check out our car insurance plans here.
Over to you
What do you reckon about capped price servicing – worth it or not? Let us know in the comments.