Service Plans and Maintenance Plans explained

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Service Plans and Maintenance Plans explained

Post by kingr » Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:25 pm

Service Plans and Maintenance Plans explained
Owning and preserving a car, to perform efficiently can occasionally be costly, hence a service and maintenance plan is imperative to owners. However, in order to choose the correct plan for you and your car’s needs, you firstly need to understand what a service and maintenance plan is and exactly what the difference is between the two. The information below, will provide you with the correct understanding for you to make an informed decision and the right choice.

What is a service plan?
A service plan assists in keeping your car roadworthy, by facilitating the recommended scheduled services, which are taken care of by approved car dealerships.

How does a vehicle service plan work?
A Service Plan pays for all manufacturer recommended services which are vital for your car. The goal for a service plan, is usually categorized in two parts, a minor service and a major service. A minor service, also known as a lube service usually includes: changing the oil, oil filters and sump plug washer.

A major service, which can be classified as one of the most essential services your car should receive, incorporates all required work from a minor service and changing of the spark plugs, brake fluid (every 2 years), pollen filter, fuel filter and any other recommend work, like changing the DSG gearbox oil and filter on Volkswagen DSG models every 90 000km. The workshop will generally also do a thorough check of the entire car and recommend any additional repairs, if required.

What does a service plan include?
  • Oil and oil filter check and replacement
  • Antifreeze coolant check and top-up
  • Windscreen wash check and top-up
  • Full brake check
  • Power steering fluid check and top-up
  • Steering check
  • Shock absorbers check
  • Suspension check
  • Lights check (all bulbs)
  • Windscreen wipers check
  • Charging systems check
  • Battery check
  • Charging system check
  • Tyre tread and pressure check
All of the above requires labour and if replacement is required, such as parts, oil or antifreeze there will be no need to pay for all of these costs.

Keep in mind that a service plan governs you to only service your car at approved dealerships, so you won’t be able to have your car serviced at your local RMI workshop while it’s still under the original service plan. Your car brand will have a list of all approved Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) dealerships on their website, this should you be your go-to reference for the dealership closest to you that can service your car.

The service plan enables you to take your car for its regular service, as per the guidelines of the OEM, which manufactures original parts and components used during the assembly of your car. Meaning you wouldn’t have to fork out any cash on the day your get a service, as all of it will be covered by your service plan.

Simply stated, Service plans cover labour and parts that’s associated with recommended manufacturer servicing of a car.

What are the benefits of a service plan?
  • Normally the cost of the service plan is bundled into the price of the car (when buying new), although some brands like Datsun, don’t include service plans as standard with their cars.
  • Your service plan will not increase due to inflation and you don’t have to fork out any cash for parts and labour costs.
  • Your car is serviced at any OEM approved dealership with genuine OEM parts.
  • Know that your car is being serviced by a trained mechanic/technician.
  • Service plans are extendable, you can increase the time or period for which the service will be active for.
  • Service plans are normally transferable to the new owner should you decide to sell your car, always check this with your dealership.
What are the cons of a service plan?
  • It only covers serviceable car parts, not wear and tear parts.
  • You are limited to only service you car at approved OEM car dealerships.

What is not covered in a Service Plan?

The list below details, what is not covered by a service plan, but not limited to:
  • If the car is involved in an accident, flood damage or has obtained significant damage, your service plan, will not be able to service your car.
  • Internal and external trim, bodywork and paint due to normal wear and tear.
  • All glass, tyres, wheels, wheel alignment, accessories, electrical wiring components.
Keep in mind that keeping a service plan valid, is by having only approved dealer(s) working on your car and the parts must be manufacturer-approved. If you don’t adhere to these obligations, there is a great possibility that the manufacturer will void the service plan.

Thinking of purchasing a used car, or you already an owner of a used car? You will need to know what the real servicing costs will be and if your next service will be a major or minor one.

How does a vehicle Maintenance Plan work?

The primary purpose of the maintenance plan is to provide you the owner piece of mind that you won’t be paying any additional costs when servicing your car, all wear and tear, including general servicing costs will be covered by your maintenance plan.

The maintenance plan covers wear and tear items which are the brake pads, brake discs, clutch kit, wiper blades, batteries, globes, shock absorbers and mounts, air-con gas, these are exclusions on a service plan. This ultimately means, that the items of the car which have an expected wear and tear phase, will need to be replaced through your maintenance plan.

However, it’s still critical for you to read the fine print of your maintenance plan, in order to understand and know what costs are covered and which are not within your maintenance plan. It’s also required to have all maintenance worked completed by an official OEM dealer, with original parts, if this is not done, your plan could be cancelled. Masterparts provides the frequently asked questions regarding a maintenance plan, questions ranging from tyres, brakes, oil and filters. Masterparts also has consultants you can speak to and entirely for your convenience, you can order parts online.

What cars cost to maintain will differ from one brand to the next, so do your research and determine if you need a maintenance plan for your car.

What does a maintenance plan cover on your car?
  • Starter
  • Steering components
  • Gearbox
  • Alternator
  • Timing belts
  • Timing chains
  • Wiper blades
  • Clutch kit
  • Suspension
  • Brakes (pads, disks, linings)
  • Shocks
  • V-belts
  • Engine
  • Engine drive belts
  • Engine computers (ecu)
  • Globes
  • CV Joints
  • Steering Components
What are the benefits of a maintenance plan?
  • No expenses from you to maintain your car as recommended by the OEM dealership.
  • Your maintenance plan will not increase due to inflation and you don’t have to fork out any cash for parts and labour costs.
  • Your vehicle can be serviced by any OEM approved dealership with genuine OEM parts.
  • Maintenance plans are normally transferable to the new owner should you decide to sell your car, always check this with your dealership.
What are the cons of a maintenance plan?
  • A maintenance plan does not come as standard with most car brands in South Africa.
  • You will need to upgrade your service plan to a maintenance plan if the vehicle you buy does not come with one, this can be a very big expense.
  • Only high-end models with certain brands come with maintenance plans, e.g: a new Volkswagen Touareg comes with a maintenance plan and normal Polo models don’t.
  • Extending maintenance plans are very expense and needs to be paid in cash with most OEM dealerships.
What are the difference between a service plan and maintenance plan?

#1 Service plans only pay for services
No need to take your wallet out for a minor or major service, as a service plan pays for all manufacturer recommended services which is vital for your car to be roadworthy. It’s imperative to remember that repairing of faulty car parts and/or wear and tear on parts such as brake pads, clutch kit, exhaust and shock absorbers, is not included in your service plan.

#2 Most cars come standard with only a Service Plan

A service plan is usually effective for a period of time and kilometres, which will be shown as 3 Years / 60 000 km, this varies dependent on the manufacturer and includes parts and labour during servicing.
  • Most allow you to upgrade to standard service plan a maintenance plan.
  • High-end models like the VW Touareg come standard with a maintenance plan, a Polo Vivo does not come standard with maintenance plan.
If your service plan doesn’t fit your needs, you could opt for a maintenance plan or simply lengthen your service plan, but this can be a costly decision, therefore research is vital when making such a decision.

#3 Maintenance Plans gives you piece of mind

No surprise bills for additional repairs when servicing, most expenses in terms of mechanical breakage and service costs are paid for by the maintenance plan. The hardest-working component with a manual transmission is the clutch. If the clutch fails, a clutch kit will include a new clutch disc, pressure plate and release bearing. Remember your service plan will not pay for a clutch failure. The new car warranty might if the car is still under warranty, a maintenance plan will always pay for a clutch kit replacement.

Another vital component is the timing belt/timing chain which connects the crankshaft to the camshaft. The crankshaft controls the engine’s pistons while the camshaft opens and closes the valves. If any timing component fails this can cause disastrous engine damage, therefore it is vital to keep the timing belt in good operating condition. Rest assured, the timing belt/chain is covered by the maintenance plan.

Car Brands in SA which offer maintenance plans as standard:
  • Audi
  • BMW
  • Mini
  • Mercedes Benz
  • Subaru
  • Volvo
  • Volkswagen (only Touareg)
  • Alfa Romeo
  • Land Rover
  • Jaguar
  • Porsche
  • Jeep
  • Lexus
  • Fiat (only Abarth models)
It’s very expensive to extend the standard maintenance plan with these car brands, starting at roughly R20 000 per year at BMW for a 118i 1-Series automatic model, so it’s in your best interest when buying new to determine how long you will keep the car so that you can accurately estimate the type of cover you will need from the maintenance plan. You can ofcourse always extend the plan, but you need to do this while the maintenance is still active.

A point not to be taken lightly is that not all maintenance plans are created equal, this could mean that there are exclusions which differ slightly between manufactures. therefore you will need to read the fine print at the time of sale, to know exactly what your covered for and what you aren’t.

Car maintenance and servicing tips to remember:

#1 - You always have options to service your car
If your service plan or maintenance plan expired, you can still maintain a full service history of your car by having it serviced at an aftermarket independant workshop, ideally one that belongs to the RMI, this will insure you’re dealing with a legitimate company and have recourse for mediation should you have any issues down the line with the service received.

If you’re a DIY guy and service your own car from home, Masterparts makes it easy to order car parts online from the comfort of your home, you can even track your order online and monitor when your new parts will be delivered, very nifty!

#2 - Aftermarket v.s OEM Car Parts
If you want to reduce your car maintenance costs, aftermarket car parts is the way to go. There are pros and cons to both and ultimately it comes down to what works for you. The biggest benefit of OEM parts are that these parts are specifically made for your car and should offer the best fit and performance, this however is not always the case and many aftermarket parts have been develop to offer “better-than-oem” performance where known weaknesses have been identified with OEM car parts. Aftermarket car parts are more accessible to purchase, you can buy car parts online as opposed to going direct the OEM car dealership.

Examples of OEM parts failing with better aftermarket parts solutions are:
  • Rod bearing failures on the BMW E46 M3 S54 engine (20001 - 2006)
  • Diverter Valve failures on VAG (Volkswagen and Audi) 2.0tsi engines
#2 Never delay or skip your an annual/recommended services
In order to be safe on the road, your car needs to be maintained and serviced to ensure trouble-free motoring and family road trips go smooth. The benefits to service and maintain your car are endless, we advise not waiting for something to go “tick” before servicing your car, prevention is always better than cure, so delaying a car service will almost always result in bigger expenses down the line.

#3 Everyone loves “full service history”
Having a car with a full service history also contributes positively to the retail value of your car, most people will easily buy a car with a full service history as opposed to one without. So when the day arrives that you want to sell your car, a “full service history” will make your car more desirable to purchase and allow you to market your car at the full retail value you can get. As mentioned above, you can still maintain a “full service history” by maintaining your car outside the dealership network and have it serviced by an approved independent workshop.

Now you know what’s the difference between service and maintenance plans. Buying car parts online today is also easier than ever before and you have many options to maintain the longevity of your car ensure many more happy kilometers.

Wheel Index guest article for Masterparts.
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