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Taking your car for regular services is an important part of keeping it in good working order. It’s also a condition for the vehicle warranty to remain valid. When you take your car for a service you rely on the information provided by the dealership’s service adviser, but how do you know when you’re being persuaded to spend money on services that aren’t necessary?
Up-Selling: Why The Con?
Dealerships regularly make more money on services than they do on car sales. 90% of dealerships employ their service advisers on a commission basis. The percentage of commission they earn ranges from 30 to 100% on the services they can persuade their clients to agree to. This can leave the motorist vulnerable to being taken advantage of.
The Psychology Behind The Up-sell
The service adviser is essentially a sales person with a pitch. These are some of the phrases to watch out for that will help you recognize one who doesn’t have your best interests at heart.
- The sales adviser may use phrases like ‘peace of mind service’ or ‘safety service’.
- They’ll advise of what should be done and spell out what could go wrong if you choose not to go ahead with the service. This plants a seed of doubt in your mind, after which they’ll place the responsibility on you to make the choice.
- They may refer to ‘special driving conditions’ that make the extra expense necessary.
Right Service, Wrong Timing
Some procedures you’ll be offered are a valid part of a normal service. This includes things like changing the engine oil and filter, rotating tires and checking alignment. The con to watch out for is when these things are recommended to you months – or even years – before they actually need to be seen to.
Made Up Service Items
You may find that some of the urgent or critical repairs recommended to you are not real procedures that form part of a service. For example:
- Replacing the PCV valve. This is a lifetime part that shouldn’t need to be replaced.
- Performance of a multipoint inspection and vehicle report. This is a diagnostic procedure done to determine the source of a faulty engine, not part of a service.
The Vehicle Recall Con
Sometimes there are recalls from the manufacturer on various parts of your car. You service advisor should be warning you of anything that has to do with your vehicle. If they don’t, it could be because they’re in a business arrangement with a manufacturer that would require them to do the work for a very small profit. You can check recalls for yourself on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website, or check directly with your vehicle manufacturer.
Are There Signs That Other Repairs Might Be Necessary?
As the driver, you get to know the feel of your car on the road and will quickly pick up on anything that feels unusual or strange in how your car is handling. Keep an eye on your dashboard for any warning lights. Listen for strange rattles or noises coming from the engine or underneath your carriage. Problems when you start up the engine are also a warning sign. Mention any of these things to your service adviser – they could be an indication of an actual problem that would need additional attention.
4 Steps To Avoid Being Taken For a Ride
- Before going in for the service, check your mileage.
- Take out your owner’s manual and flip to the Required Maintenance Schedule.
- Find out what should be serviced at your current mileage and request the dealer for only those items.
- If they put you under pressure for extra things, take your business elsewhere.
Bottom-line – the manufacturer built your vehicle and will know better than anyone else what maintenance is required. Any service adviser who insists on anything else is probably looking to meet his sales target.
I’ve Been Duped! What Now?
According to the consumer protection act, it is illegal for a business to charge you for a service that you didn’t need. The penalty for doing this can range from a fine to jail time. If you believe that you’ve been wronged, you can contact the Federal Trade Commission.
Find A Service Center You Can Trust
Our master technicians at Foreign Affairs Motorsport are dedicated to you and your car. Armed with the latest specialty diagnostic tools and a combined 125+ years of experience, we are ready to keep your car in perfect running condition. Contact us, find out more about our automotive services, or request an appointment online. We are ready to work with you to get the best out of your investment.