I see it all the time, customers chasing the bottom line. They chase discounts and go to places that advertise cheap car services on the back of shopping dockets and specials boards.
The $99 service is a trojan horse. I know it isn’t possible to run a business on specials like this, and if we tried (working honestly), we would be out of business pretty quickly. It just wouldn’t cover the actual expenses of running a shop.
Servicing costs have gone up in recent years. Partly due to more customers driving 4WDs, which hold more oil, have more working parts, and generally have a harder life. The cost of air filters has more than doubled in the past few years. Employing a qualified mechanic that actually knows what he is doing is more expensive than ever (but worth every cent). As a family business owner, if I try to cut corners with my employees, both my customers and my business will soon disappear.
So people book the $99 service special. Then they ring me up to double check the thousand dollar estimate that comes back.
I had a guy just the other day come in with half a dozen things that needed to be ‘repaired urgently’ off the back of a $99 service. We checked the vehicle over to see if the repairs were legitimate. Case in point: the front lower control arm bushes were reportedly split and needed replacing. They didn’t need replacing. A few slight cracks were present that would have lasted at last 2-3 more services. The cost for just this one unnecessary repair would have exceeded $500!
That’s the trojan horse. They get you in the door with a loss-leader price, then feast on every unsuspecting car owner.
It isn’t so much the blatant rip off that bothers me, if they actually did the work…but far too often these guys charge the customer without even doing the repairs!
This really isn’t meant to promote what we do here. Most of you readers don’t live close enough for me to personally benefit from this advice. But you are going to benefit down the road if you pay a bit more for your car’s regular servicing, particularly if you have a relationship with that mechanic or outlet and you know they’re honest and reliable.
Anyone can use cheap oil, filters and brake pads to whittle down their bottom line, and those margins can add up over time, but we us use Ryco, Bendix and genuine accessories, and quality oils like Valvoline that meet the correct specifications for each manufacturer. Better brake pads, for instance, squeak less and give off less dust. And the quality stuff comes with real warranty and service support. It’s the right thing to do, and it will protect your vehicle over time.
In the long run, it is actually cheaper to pay for better service along the way than paying for bad or dishonest work down the line. The poor man always buys everything twice!