Automotive

Published on April 30th, 2019 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez

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Are authorised workshops over-charging naive car owners?


First it must be noted that we own old cars, so driving into an authorised dealership to service our car has never been an option. Even when we bought our wife a used 4-year-old car 7 years ago, we only went twice to the dealership and after seeing their prices we decided to go to our regular mechanic and save more than 150% in billings.

Now, for the average car owner who has no knowledge on a trusted mechanic or even where to go for what repairs, they have no choice but to go to an authorised workshop and pay the premium prices on parts and labour. So why is there a premium and is it fair to the nearly new car owner?

The above is the battery price at my preferred battery dealer and below is the battery price at the authorised dealer workshop.

First, it must be noted that car dealerships work on hundreds of cars each month and have many service bays and factory-trained mechanics with software upgrades provided to your car when and where necessary.

However, car owners can only meet with the service advisors to determine what their car needs and will probably never meet the mechanic that will be working on the car.

Authorised dealerships specialise in repairing and maintaining your car brand only whereas the regular workshop works on all kinds of vehicles.

Regular workshops start from scratch to build relationships with paying customers, whereas the authorised workshop will provide you years of free service (under your new car servicing agreement) to foster goodwill.

Authorised dealerships have clean bathrooms, comfortable waiting areas, free Wi-Fi, free snacks and drinks and sometimes even a loaner car to make your like easy. All this is cost and this cost has to be paid with higher labour costs and higher parts pricing.

The regular workshop bathroom is far from useable, no free Wi-Fi and snacks and if you are lucky there might be a mamak restaurant nearby with low quality food and drink at an inflated price.

So why are we highlighting the above-mentioned facts? Well, a good lady friend who drives a 5 plus year old car just had issues starting her car and it was identified as a worn battery. She went to her car brand authorised service centre and was quoted RM773.00 for a new battery.

We advised her to visit our regular battery shop in Petaling Jaya Section 17 for the past 20 years and she got her battery replaced with a quality battery at just RM285.00. Now this is huge saving of RM488.00 and it was all done in less than 15 minutes whereas at the authorised dealership it would have taken at least 1 hour.  

Now it is savings like this that many budget conscious Malaysian drivers need to know. Yes, the new car authorised dealership needs to make money…..but not by 170% plus profit? This is a little too much, plus………..taking into consideration my regular battery supplier is also making a profit at RM285.00.    

So where should the line be drawn on profit margins in car maintenance? We keep finding more and more horror stories emerging from car drivers who are naïve and there seems to be little done to reduce the cost of ownership when the cost to purchase a new car is one of the highest in the world.  

Also, we noticed the new car authorised dealership recommended our friend to change her gearbox mounting and engine mounting. This is another story to be shared very soon. 


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