Heels & Horsepower Magazine

Service Plan vs Maintenance Plan: What Is The Difference?

The difference between a service and maintenance plan can be stressful and easily misunderstood but in this article we clarify the differences and take the confusion out of the two.

What Is a Car Maintenance Plan?

A car maintenance plan is more comprehensive than a service plan. It covers both the labour and expenses of parts while also providing cover for wear and tear replacement items such as fuses, wiper blades, and brake pads. A vehicle maintenance plan also covers mechanical components such as the gearbox, engine, and exhaust system. Windscreens, alignment, and tyres are not covered in maintenance plans.

What Are The Benefits Of A Maintenance Plan?

  1. Fixed and affordable monthly premiums for regularly scheduled vehicle maintenance.
  2. Specified item wear and tear cover.
  3. Qualified technicians and professional service.
  4. Remain unaffected by the ripple effect of inflation on labour and parts cost increases.

A maintenance plan differs from a service plan in that it provides cover for the more important and costly replacement parts of the vehicle. A service plan, on the other hand, is somewhat different.

What Is A Vehicle Service Plan?

A service plan covers the cost of regular services on your car as specified by the vehicle manufacturer. In essence, a service plan pays for the servicing of your car – either on an annual basis or according to the vehicle manufacturer’s mileage requirements. Service plan lengths are generally stipulated by the manufacturer and the cost of the plan is affected by the make and model of the vehicle, with luxury and sports vehicle owners paying more for service plans. Replaceable items on your car that are predetermined by the manufacturer to keep your car running perfectly such as oil, air filters, and spark plugs form part of the service plan. Other items included in the service plan are cam belts, brake fluid, and coolant. Labour is also covered in a service plan.

While many perceive a service plan to be comprehensive, the reality is that a service plan is not enough to safeguard you against the financial strain that comes with owning and maintaining a vehicle. For example, here is a list of general service plan exclusions.

What Does A Service Plan Not Cover?

  1. Accessories, electrical wiring items, wheels, wheel alignment, tyres, and all glass such as windshields and car windows.
  2. Paint and bodywork brought on by standard wear and tear.
  3. Maintenance and repair work caused by abuse and misuse of the vehicle, damage caused by an accident, and damage caused by negligence.

These are only a few exclusions and service plans should be read through carefully for a thorough understanding of how the plan works, what it covers, and what the general exclusions are.

What Are The Benefits Of A Service Plan?

  • A service plan assists vehicle owners to ensure that the future services of their car are taken care of in advance and helps avoid budget interruptions that may take months to recover from. Service plans also help drivers avoid car breakdowns and additional towing fees.
  • Every driver will attest to the driving pleasure of an efficiently running car. A fully serviced vehicle is a pleasure to drive and costs less to maintain in the long run.
  • A well-looked-after vehicle that is regularly serviced can be sold at a higher value because the vehicle is in good condition and has an up-to-date service history.
  • Parts on your car will be replaced with components specific to the make, model, and chassis number of the car.
  • The final and most important benefit is that a service plan will not only provide you with peace of mind but with great driving experiences and many unforgettable road trip memories.

What Are The Disadvantages Of A Service Plan?

  • A service plan provides cover for serviceable parts only.
  • A service plan could limit your services to approved centres only.
  • A service plan does not provide cover for the wear and tear of parts.

Service plans are a good addition to comprehensive car insurance as it allows for a broader range of financial cover for your vehicle. With the basics of service and maintenance plans for vehicles covered, here are a few more terms as well as their explanations that will serve you, the driver well and possibly save you some money by providing you with the necessary information to make the best motor plan decision.

Here’s what you need to know about the Right to Repair

Right to Repair South Africa aims to ensure fair competition in the South African Automotive Aftermarket.

The organization’s mission is to ensure that the South African automotive aftermarket becomes an open, competitive market where your choice of provider or product is dictated by price and quality rather than restrictive contract provisions. This kind of market is to the benefit of all role players in the industry, the pocket of the consumer and the economy.

Why a ‘Right to Repair’ Campaign?

No industry can thrive where monopolies are allowed to dominate and dictate the market. Fair and equitable access to a market is the foundation of broad based economic base within a sector.

Over the past decade, the Competition Commission has received complaints regarding allegations of anti-competitive conduct in the aftermarket value chain. The allegations include:

  1. exclusionary agreements and/or arrangements between OEMs and Approved Motor-body Repairers;
  2. the exclusion or foreclosure of Independent Service Providers in the markets for the service and maintenance and Mechanical Repairs for In-Warranty Motor Vehicles;
  3. unfair allocation of work by Insurers;
  4. restrictions on the sale of Original Spare Parts to ISPs;
  5. high barriers to entry that exclude small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and historically disadvantaged individuals (HDIs) from becoming Approved Motor-body Repairers and Approved Dealers;
  6. a lack of competition and consumer choice in the sale and fitment of Spare Parts.

A further issue is that cars have become more and more ‘computers on wheels’. Technological innovations provide better emissions control and more safety and comfort; but these innovations have made it increasingly challenging to service or repair a vehicle.

Without effective access to technical information, multi-brand diagnostic tools and test equipment, replacement parts and training, independent market operators are deprived of their right to service and repair vehicles.

Competition in the automotive after-market would be eliminated, and the entire independent automotive aftermarket chain is at threat of being driven out of business. And South African motorists would lose their freedom to choose the aftermarket care of their vehicles.

What is the Right to Repair Campaign?

The Right to Repair Campaign (R2RC) is an international information campaign on behalf of the many who care about the future of the multi-brand automotive aftermarket.  

There is a need for a fair and competitive regulatory environment that enables freedom of choice for the consumers and that gives aftermarket SMEs a chance to stay in business.

The R2RC aims at preventing legislation that would deny consumers their right to have their vehicles serviced, maintained and repaired at competitive prices in the workshop of their choice.

What are the aims of the Right to Repair Campaign?

The Right to Repair Campaign focuses on consumer choice and effective competition in the automotive aftermarket. It is based on the right of motorists in the choice of the aftermarket care of their vehicles and the right of the independent operators to maintain, service and repair modern vehicles equipped with multiple electronic control units managed by complex software and multiplex networks.

The R2RC aims to

  1. improve the visibility and understanding of the independent automotive aftermarket;
  2. ensure that the legal right of access to technical information, tools and equipment, parts and training is upheld;
  3. promote a regulatory environment that effectively safeguards the interests of small and medium-sized companies in this sector;
  4. uphold motorists’ rights to have their vehicles serviced, from day one, by the workshop of their choice.
How does this affect me?

Without full and fair access to technical information, replacement parts, training, multi-brand diagnostic tools and test equipment, the independent aftermarket operators will be deprived of their right to service and repair vehicles. Independent repairers will be driven out of business. Independent distributors will lose their clients and tools and parts producers will lose their independent aftermarket business.

The survival of the entire independent aftermarket chain is at risk. The right to repair will safeguard the consumer’s right to affordable and convenient aftermarket care for his vehicle, from day one – including the statutory and any extended warranty period – and throughout the entire life cycle of his vehicle.

Why is the R2RC important for consumers?

The R2RC aims at maintaining effective and fair competition between independent aftermarket operators and the vehicle manufacturers’ service networks as it is the only way to guarantee the motorists’ freedom of choice of where to take their vehicles for servicing or repair. Motorists should be able to choose what is done to their property and who executes the work on what is, after all, their car.

This also means :

  • The right to determine who should have access to the technical data stored by the computerized on-board systems, and to determine how such data may be stored and used;
  • The right of motorists and independent operators to learn of any defect that needs to be corrected, this is especially important in the context of vehicle safety
  • The right to have any quality part installed that meets all legal requirements, regardless of whether or not it was supplied by the vehicle manufacturer;
Why is the independent aftermarket vital for the economy?

Competition in the marketplace is good for consumers and good for business. Competition from many different companies and individuals through free enterprise and open markets is the basis of a healthy economy. When businesses compete with each other, consumers get the best possible prices, quantity, and quality of goods and services. Competition laws encourage companies to compete so that both consumers and businesses benefit. One important benefits of competition is a boost to innovation.

Competition among companies can spur the invention of new or better products, or more efficient processes. Businesses may race to be the first to market a new or different technology.  Products that are commonplace today once were technological breakthroughs: cars, planes, phones, televisions, the personal computer, and modern medicines all show how innovation can change your life, and increase prosperity.

Competition can lead companies to invent lower-cost manufacturing processes, which can increase their profits and help them compete—and then, pass those savings on to the consumer. Competition also can help businesses identify consumers’ needs and then develop new products or services to meet them.

Crucially in the South African context, competitive markets are more accessible for smaller to medium enterprises and accordingly help to drive broad based economic growth, create jobs and allow for the upliftment of previously disadvantaged individuals. Competition is the basis for an inclusive and sustainable economy. It’s all good and well to give a BEE investment group a shareholding in a large dealership, but in the long run we need to make sure that the independent small business can compete which is a far more sustainable way of assuring real change in our economic landscape.

3 basic things you should know about servicing your car

Owning your first car and not having to rely on anyone else to get you to where you need to go, is a true rite of passage. However, with great power comes great responsibility, and maintaining it should be a priority.

Keeping your car in tiptop condition is as important while you are driving it, as it is when the time comes to sell it. A properly maintained car, and one with a complete and detailed service history will always be more valuable than one that’s poorly looked after.

The first item of business for any dealership or prospective buyer at trade-in or sale time, is a car’s service book, and some might dismiss a car completely if the service history is incomplete or patchy. Have a look at the second-hand cars for sale on any reputable dealer’s website and the term ‘FSH’, or Full Service History, is often listed ahead of any other features or extras.

Here are 3 factors you, as a motorist, should understand when it comes to servicing your car.

  • What are car service intervals?

Though these may differ slightly from car to car, every vehicle on the road comes with a manufacturer’s recommended service schedule. These are generally in the form of time and distance intervals between workshop visits, such as ‘one year or 15,000km’, whichever comes first, as an example.

It’s important to know that adhering to these intervals is not optional, and especially not on cars that are still covered by warranties. Skipping a scheduled service can have serious repercussions, such as the voiding of warranties or even mechanical failure.

  • When should you take your car in for a service?

Familiarise yourself with your car’s schedule in order to prepare for upcoming services, whether your car is covered by a service/maintenance plan or not. This can generally be found in the physical or digital service book that comes with the car, and should be stored somewhere safe.  Also, some cars have built-in service timers to notify you ahead of the scheduled maintenance work, but it’s always better to check than to rely on these alone.

  • What information should you have at hand when booking your car in for a service?

If you struggle to understand your schedule, or have trouble finding it, call the service department at your dealership to ask for assistance. Have your car’s current mileage and the details of the last known service handy, as this will assist them in guiding you.

It’s also a good idea to have your car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on hand, as this is the quickest way for a dealership to identify the specifics of your particular vehicle model. This can be found on your licence disc, or stamped onto the body of your car – often, but not always, visible through the bottom corner of the windscreen.

Servicing your vehicle means that you will always be aware of the condition of your vehicle. For instance, you may not know if your car needs a new wheel bearing or shock absorber, or that your brakes are nearing replacement time. Regular services allow the technician or mechanic to check for and inform you of any costly problems or issues before or as they begin to arise,” says Kutlwano Mogatusi, WesBank’s Communications Specialist.

Tips To Help Protect Your Car’s Resale Value

It is important to look after your vehicle by servicing it regularly and in accordance with the manufacturer’s stipulated service intervals.

Everyone says that the value of any vehicle depreciates the moment you drive if off the dealership floor.  This applies to both new and pre-owned vehicles; and while this is true in part, there are ways to protect and help maintain the value of your vehicle for future resale.

However, before we unpack some of the key factors that could affect the resale value of the vehicle, it is important to understand common terminology used by the motor industry when selling your vehicle.

  1. Retail price: This is the recommended selling price, excluding any optional extras. Dealerships incur costs such as marketing, insurance, vehicle reconditioning and repairs, facility overheads and staff remuneration. As such, the dealership needs to factor some profit into the vehicle price, so the retail value is normally at the higher end of the scale.
  2. Trade or market price: This is usually lower than the retail value, but may vary in line with vehicle demand.  The trade or market price is the value which should be considered when trading in or selling your vehicle.
  3. Depreciation: This refers to the reduction in the value of a vehicle over time, due to varying factors such as mileage, wear and tear damage etc.

If the vehicle also requires ongoing maintenance, it may be worth far less than you expected when the time comes to sell it.

Kutlwano Mogatusi, WesBank’s Communication Specialist

Photo Cred: Erick Mclean on Unsplash

The optimal time to trade in your vehicle

Used vehicle websites can be extremely valuable for researching which vehicles are the most popular, the fastest selling and have held their resale value over time. The optimal time to trade in one’s vehicle is when the trade value of the vehicle is more or less in line with the settlement amount owed to the bank.

“Variables such as mileage and the overall condition of the vehicle will also affect the resale value. It can be tempting to consider a bargain deal on a particular vehicle because it has a high mileage, but this could prove to be costly down the line. If the vehicle also requires ongoing maintenance, it may be worth far less than you expected when the time comes to sell it,” explains Kutlwano Mogatusi, WesBank’s Communication Specialist.

Photo Cred: Liam Briese on unsplash

Another useful tip is to resist over-embellishing your car with aftermarket accessories

Kutlwano Mogatusi, WesBank’s Communication Specialist

Simple tips to get the best resale value for your car

To ensure that you get the best price for your car, here are a few simple ways to maintain your car’s resale value:

  1. When buying your vehicle, choose the make and model carefully.  This includes the colour with white or silver being considered your best bet. Also consider that some brands are expensive to maintain or require more after-sales support than others.
  2. Keep a detailed service record.  Be diligent, stick to the maintenance schedule and keep a record of all work that has been done on your vehicle. A clean maintenance record will benefit you when it comes to negotiating the resell price of your vehicle.
  3. Use it, don’t abuse it.  This is self-explanatory and refers to all aspects of the car, from the brakes and transmission to paint chips, dented rims or a few dents –  all these elements will be checked by a potential buyer.
  4. Keep your vehicle’s papers in order.  These include the original vehicle registration form and proof of payment of the annual vehicle licence fee; you should also ensure there are no outstanding fines or e-Toll costs owing on the vehicle.
  5. Deal with the small issues:If you notice something wrong with your vehicle –  anything from an unusual sound in the engine to a few scratches – have it dealt with it immediately.  Not only will this help preserve it’s resale value, but it is always better to be safe than sorry.
  6. Use a reliable mechanic.  It is recommended that you service and maintain your car at a workshop with a good track record and trusted mechanics; remember that franchise dealerships have expert vehicle knowledge and qualified technicians who are specially trained to work on your specific brand.
  7. Where you park your car can also impact its resale value.   A closed garage is ideal, but this may not always be possible. Try not to leave your car parked under a tree or exposed in the sun for long periods at a time to maintain the exterior paint; also consider using a sun visor and even car seat covers to preserve the car’s interior.

Photo Cred: Chad Kirchoff

“Another useful tip is to resist over-embellishing your car with aftermarket accessories. While part of the joy of owning a car is making it your own, these personal style additions could impact negatively on its resale value. You might think oversized rims, outrageous body paint or a booming sound system are improvements but be aware that the next owner or the dealership where you plan to trade in your car, may not!” cautioned Mogatusi.

“Keeping your car clean and in as excellent condition as possible is probably the best way of ensuring it retains its value over time. A small scratch or dent might not seem like a big deal but accumulating dents or scratches over time will detract from the car’s overall appeal,” says Mogatusi.