The perpetual question on to spend or not to spend…

Q. My car is 4 years old. Should I get the car serviced at an authorized service centre or will a local  garage do?

Every car has a fixed service schedule for itself recommended by the manufacturer. Basic parts like oil filter, engine oil are changed in every service. But there are other spare parts which require replacement as per the schedule, as per its life and not necessarily every time that a car goes for servicing. Parts like spark plugs, brake oil, gear oil, fuel filter, coolant etc. are changed only at specific intervals as per the schedule prepared by the manufacturer. It is necessary to follow the schedule which the manufacturer suggests. For example, in the VW Passat, gear oil is replaced only during the 4th scheduled service. Service schedule for VW cars in India is 15,000 kms or 1 year, whichever is earlier. So gear oil will be replaced only after 4 years are completed or after the car has run 60,000 km whichever gets completed first.

If the service schedule is not followed and parts are not replaced on time, then it can lead to part failure and can also cause serious damage to other related parts – kind of like one rotten apple spoiling all the others in the basket. Also, it can lead to a car breakdown situation if neglected completely.

Following are the pros and cons of getting a car serviced at an authorized service center:

Pros:

Service schedule is maintained and the customer does not need to track what parts need to be changed and when.

Genuine parts are fitted in the car. This is the biggest advantage of servicing at an authorized service center. High end car spare parts are very difficult to get in the unorganized market. It is always advisable to get genuine parts fitted in the car to avoid any premature part failure or also any damage to other related parts.

Technicians are trained and well qualified. The tools used are sophisticated and approved by the manufacturer. This makes sure that the repair work performed is of superior quality.

Then there is the issue of the warranty. A car serviced at the local garage would render the warranty void. That would also be the case if non-OEM parts are used to replace original parts. Any unwanted after effects or accidents occurring due to such spare parts would not be under the purview of the company. The repair wont be covered by an authorised workshop even if the car is under warranty. For example, if a CNG kit is fitted to a car by an outside vendor, any future problems arising in the engine will not be covered under warranty

Cars nowadays come with sophisticated electronics. The unorganised garage segment is getting redundant because smart proprietary systems which require specialised tools are necessary to diagnose the problems in the car. For example: electronic faults can be detected in minutes if a proprietary scanner is plugged to the car. It will read the fault through the car ECM and identify the problem accurately. It would be next to impossible for local garages to do this.

Process will be organized and controlled.

Cons:

There is always scarcity of resources at authorized service centres due to rush of cars waiting to get serviced.

Prices of the spare parts are high.

Taxes on spare parts and labour charges hike up the final invoice amount.

It has powers of monopoly in terms of certain spare parts which forces the customer to get the repair job done at the authorized workshop, and pay a premium for the same. E.g, ECM,etc

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Generally it is always advisable to get the servicing done at an authorized service centre.

In case of low segment cars, servicing at local garages is also okay. That’s because the spare parts in the lower segment cars are basic and easily available. There is less of electronics involved, so even an average skilled technician can service it well. This in turn saves the cost to customer.

However, in case of high end cars, this could be quite risky. Highly skilled technicians are required to handle the sophisticated spare parts and complex electronics of these cars. Careful handling is required for such cases, and therefore, an authorized service centre is always recommended.

But at the end of the day, it boils down to personal choice!