Do I have to get my new car serviced from the place I bought it?
Automotive Services, Motor Engineers & Repairers
The purchase of a new vehicle is a major expense, so we want to keep our car in good condition for as long as possible. New cars are covered for some items by the vehicle manufacturer’s warranty, and we receive a booklet detailing major services required as part of the warranty conditions. Are we obliged to return the vehicle to the dealer from which we purchased it for these services?
Trade Practices Act
Under the Trade Practices Act, a vehicle manufacturer or car dealership cannot insist we have our car serviced by a particular mechanic. We are free to choose where we have our vehicle serviced. Your warranty is not voided by taking your car elsewhere. However, a vehicle manufacturer can refuse a warranty claim when you have not kept up the recommended maintenance (or not kept your receipts or logbook as proof), or where inappropriate work has been carried out, or when a non-genuine replacement part has failed or caused damage to the vehicle.
Engines in modern vehicles are computerized and require electronic test equipment specific to that vehicle to find faults and to add software upgrades to overcome known issues. Test equipment is very expensive and is provided by the manufacturer only to dealers. Dealers also have access to complete service information, technical support, special tools and factory knowledge. Also, if you have a warranty claim, your vehicle must be taken to a dealer for warranty work.
Non-dealers can service your vehicle, but cannot do work that is part of a warranty claim. The perception is that non-dealers charge less for labour than dealers, but this is not necessarily the case as the price is usually set by the vehicle manufacturer. Also, be wary of using non-genuine service parts. While it is true that many original parts are more expensive, it is not necessarily in your interests to use non-genuine parts. If your vehicle is still covered by warranty, the failure of a non-genuine part can leave you stuck with neither the vehicle manufacturer nor parts supplier willing to accept responsibility for any resulting damage.
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It is your decision where you have your vehicle serviced. Ensure, though, that whoever services your vehicle is licensed, and that details of your service are recorded in the logbook. Stipulate whether you only want genuine parts used. Look up the auto repairers in your area and find one who will take good care of your vehicle.
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