Just as it is with features like smartphone connectivity and sat-nav, it’s becoming harder for carmakers to sell a new car in the current competitive market without a Capped-Price Servicing offer.
Once, it was disc brakes, then central locking. Later, it was an audio system beyond the standard radio, then airbags and electronic stability control.
Now, Capped-Price Servicing is on its way to joining the list of features consumers expect when they buy a new car.
But what’s in a name?
Capped-Price Servicing is the name the industry has applied to this latest ‘must have’ new car accessory, but much like the cars it’s assisting to sell, it comes in several shapes and sizes.
Some are all-inclusive - either ‘pre-paid’ at the time of purchasing or with 'one price per service' covering several services. Some carmakers even offer ‘free’ servicing.
Others are more a ‘pre-warning’ of what to expect dollar-wise when your next service rolls around; regardless of when that might be.
The packages also differ in the 'term' of the offer. Some Capped-Price Servicing offers vary from the life of the warranty to the life of the car. And some individual dealers also offer their own version of it.
Nearly all capped-price deals will exclude consumables such as wiper blades, brake bleeding and coolant flushes.
Capped-Price Servicing doesn’t alter the length of time or the distance covered between scheduled services, which will still differ from one carmaker to another and from model to model.
We’ve broken Capped-Price Servicing down into two sub-categories to try to best explain what your dealer might be offering you the next time you’re in the market for a new car (after you’ve done your research via The Motor Report, of course):
Much like the menu in a restaurant, this form of Capped-Price Servicing offers a list of what each service contains and what it will cost. Each scheduled service may be a different price depending upon the nature of the service.
The car buyer is then aware exactly what an upcoming service will cost before it takes place. (Usually, all dealers representing a particular manufacturer will list the same prices on the servicing).
But like that favourite burger of yours, when the cost-price of pineapple or any other key ingredient goes up, so does the burger.
Most carmakers with menu servicing reserve the right to alter their servicing prices when they see fit, such as when the price of engine oil rises.
So while there’s still a menu outlining the cost of each service before you buy a new car, that menu can change throughout the course of ownership.
‘Set Price’ Servicing
With set price servicing, you’ll often get a better deal up-front for servicing costs than with menu pricing.
A carmaker nominates a set price - say, $300 - and that price applies to perhaps the first three years or four scheduled services, whichever occurs first.
That means regardless of the odometer reading, the amount of time required or which items are to be replaced when the dealer services your vehicle (excluding the likes of tyres and brake pads), you’ll pay the nominated figure.
Unlike menu servicing, that figure is set in stone from the day you buy the car. But that three-year window can fly by quickly, and, when it does, you’re back to doing things the old-fashioned way.
So while the menu-price owner might know what their 90,000, 120,000 or even 190,000km service will cost regardless of which dealer performs it, once outside the term of the set-price offer, car owners are then on their own negotiating their servicing and service costs.
While that package might costs thousands (and needs to be optioned either at the time of purchase or before the first service), your servicing costs will be taken care of years in advance.
Buyers can even add the service package price to a car loan, locking in current-day service prices in return for slightly higher monthly repayments.
Carmakers With Capped-Price Servicing
Below is a list of most of the carmakers offering Capped-Price Servicing in Australia (click on each carmaker to learn more). Note that some exclude performance and/or commercial models.
- Audi - a pre-paid amount at the time of purchase covering all services, usually for three years
- BMW - a pre-paid amount at the time of purchase covering all services, usually for five years
- Citroen - menu price, usually for six years
- Ferrari - seven years free servicing on all current models
- Ford - menu price, for the life of the car
- Holden -set price, usually for three years
- Honda - menu price, usually for five years
- HSV - set price, usually for four years
- Hyundai - menu price, for the life of the car
- Infiniti - a pre-paid amount at the time of purchase covering all services, usually for four years
- Kia - menu price, usually for seven years
- Mazda - menu price, for the life of the car (includes ‘flexible servicing’)
- Mercedes-Benz - a pre-paid amount at the time of purchase covering all services, between two and five years
- MINI - a pre-paid amount at the time of purchase covering all services, usually for five years
- Mitsubishi - menu and set price, usually for four years
- Nissan - menu price, usually for six years
- Opel - set price, usually for three years (now continued through Holden dealers)
- Peugeot - menu price, usually for five years
- Proton - five years free scheduled servicing or five years menu pricing on various models
- Renault - set price, usually for three years
- Rolls-Royce - “covered by our service package for the first four years, regardless of the car's mileage” (includes ‘Condition Based Servicing’)
- Skoda - menu price, usually for six years
- Subaru - menu price, for the life of the car
- Suzuki - menu price, usually for five years
- Toyota - set price, usually for three years
- Volkswagen - menu price, usually for six years
As for Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Bentley, Chery, Chrysler, Dodge, Great Wall, Isuzu, Jaguar, Jeep, Lamborghini, Land Rover, Lexus, Lotus, Mahindra, Maserati, Morgan, Porsche, SsangYong, Volvo and the rest: watch this space…
NOTE: Most carmakers reserve the right to alter their Capped-Price Servicing arrangements from time to time, and some will change their programs temporarily as part of a sales promotion. Refer to carmaker’s individual websites or contact your local dealer for more information.
(Top photo courtesy IC Motor Group NZ.)