Tuesday 24 October 2017

Motorists risking safety and big bills by skipping service

* Lack of cash for repairs and black economy seen as key factors, owners warned on warranty

Some car dealers are reporting significant numbers neglecting their cars
Some car dealers are reporting significant numbers neglecting their cars
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

Motorists are risking the safety of their families and hefty repair bills by missing out on their cars' service, it is emerging.

Anecdotal, but extensive, evidence indicates that many owners are failing to have their cars properly maintained.

The most likely reason is that they still can't afford to have them serviced properly and are continuing to patch-and-go as the need arises or get work carried out in the black economy.

If that is the case, it provides a bleak insight into how thousands of owners are still struggling to stay mobile despite the much-vaunted return to economic growth and well-being.

And while most vehicles being neglected fall into the older-car category, examples of much newer vehicles have been brought to the attention of Independent Motors.

One of the more striking cases is that of a 131 Ford Kuga with gearbox problems - but it had no service history. As a result, the owner faces a repair bill of €1,300.

Some dealers are reporting 'significant' numbers forgoing the annual service.

This has prompted an industry expert to warn them that they are being penny wise and potentially pound foolish.

Dave Pimlott is Customer Service Director at Ford Ireland. He told Independent Motors: "Our advice to motorists who are considering skipping a car service is to think twice."

He added: "You may well be saving money in the short term, but you could be storing up problems that will cost you even more in the long run."

During a normal service a dealer will always change the oil - a simple but essential part of keeping engines in good condition. Missing an oil change can lead to sludge building up and that can mean increased wear, reduced performance and higher fuel consumption.

Mr Pimlott warned: "In extreme cases, sludge build-up can negatively impact on your car's emissions which could lead to a car failing the NCT."

As well as that, sludge can do long-term damage that is costly to put right. However, there are also non-mechanical, but potentially costly, consequences.

Not having your car serviced on a regular basis can mean losing out on a manufacturer's warranty.

There is another obvious upside to the regular service. Any dealer worth his or her salt will always carry out a 'health check' on the car.

They can bring little things to your attention before they become major ones - the sort of faults that, if allowed develop, could cost an awful lot more down the line.

Mr Pimlott added: "Manufacturers recommend an annual service that would help to flag up issues with the car before they become serious.

"It is for that reason that some manufacturers consider a car's warranty to be null and void if it has missed more than one service action."

As well as changing the oil, a technician will check: lights and alignment, corrosion and paintwork, brakes/brake fluid moisture content, tyres/tread depth, pollen, cabin filter etc.

While sceptics will see the issue of servicing being highlighted as another ploy by garages to generate cash, there does seem to be a significant trend whereby owners are taking a chance with the state-of-repair under which their cars are asked to function.

If nothing else, though, with winter coming, it is a timely reminder about keeping you and your car safe by having it checked over.

Give us your views. How often is your car serviced? ecunningham@independent.ie

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