Some 50 000 plus new cars are being put onto our roads each and every month. This means that there are about 50 000 used cars are finding themselves new homes at the same time. And most of them will be very close to, if not completely past, the end of their manufacturer, obligatory warranty service period at this stage.
So what does this mean to the average man or woman on the street today in terms of servicing, maintenance and, most importantly, who can they trust with this expensive, budget-eating task?
To provoke a few thoughts, we decided to call upon Steve Fischer, the founder of South Africa?s biggest and most respected after market tuning franchise, Steves Auto Clinic. Fischer is a man that has seen the industry change from simple timing light and number 13 spanner tuning way back in the 80?s, to the high-paced, precise, digital-type world it is today, and as such, has pretty much seen and done it all automotively.
First up, Fischer asks, ?Are all manufacturer approved workshops as good as they claim? Having a specific marque badge outside on the window does not necessary make their technicians any better trained or their workshops any better equipped.? He goes on to say, ?It is astounding to see the number of motorists who still take their out of manufacturer warranty vehicles to the authorised dealers as a costly matter of habit.?
He is quick to back up this point by saying that he has no problem with this practice, but does refer to but one article that ran in the press recently, whereby a lady took a 15 000 km old car around to a host of private garages for quotes to make the car saleable.
On receiving vastly different quotes on what was required to complete her request, she took the car to the AA, whereby she was issued a comprehensive audit of what was required. She decided in the end to take the vehicle to the manufacturer-approved workshop, only to receive the vehicle back with none of the identified faults being repaired.
But the lesson doesn?t end here. In fact it gets even worse when you start to explore the private side of the aftermarket performance industry. And here is where Fischer really gets animated in making his point. ?Workshops now days range from genuine backyard establishments to state-of-the-art, flagship facilities as boasted by the various SAC branches.? Proudly adding, ?We have been at the forefront of this industry for over 20 years, but this has not been an easy or cost-friendly exercise.?
He goes on to say, ?How many private workshops today can claim to have a dedicated Research & Development Centre to call on for guidance and training? How many can claim to do development work on in-house bought vehicles only? Our customer?s cars are not used as costly ?guinea pigs?, nor are they used to train apprentices on.?
In wrapping up, how, basically, can one discern who can be trusted today? Fischer raises a few more questions for the unwary motorist to consider before parting with their vehicles and hard earned money.
?Outside of the obvious things like reputation and price, how many people check to see if their chosen workshop has short term insurance to cover their vehicle while it is there? Can they offer you the convenience of a courtesy car? Can they offer you a workshop facility when you are far away from home? Do they offer concrete written warranties on all their workmanship.?
If you have any doubt or are not sure what you should be looking for when making this decision, take the time to visit www.steves.co.za
, it will be well worth the effort to understand this highly controversial topic better, and will probably save you some money at the same time.
Car servicing, repairing or even performance upgrading is a multi million Rand daily business, and these are all rather pertinent questions when you ask yourself, ?What is ignorance costing me??