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The cost of care for your car -- the deals and the prices

Service, like warranty, is fast becoming a battleground as consumers try to track down the best deals. Today, for the first time, Independent Motors brings you the details. We hope you find it useful.

DRIVERS are no longer happy to leave their vehicle in for a service and keep their fingers crossed about what it's going to cost.

They want at least a ball-park figure of what to expect, and ideally a fixed price for which they can budget.

Fixed-price services do what they say on the tin. In the case of Audi, for example, a service will cost €159 on models up to 2-litres aged three to 10 years.

This offer, and those from Toyota, Renault and Mitsubishi for example, are backed by the distributor.

However, the service offers currently available are a mix of distributor offers and those from individual dealers.

Fixed price service packages typically run for three to five years and are still relatively new to the Irish market. BMW is an exception in that it has been offering this option for eight years but it has taken the recession for it to register on buyers' radar.

Around 80pc of buyers are opting for it, according to Paul Murray, aftersales director at BMW Ireland.

Of more recent origin are fixed price packages from Citroen, Hyundai and Opel.

Each has its own terms and conditions and the price varies according to the model.

With Citroen, the cost is paid up front. With Opel and Hyundai, motorists make monthly payments over a specified period.

As illustrative examples, the cost for an Opel Corsa is €10.99 a month (over 33 months) while a Hyundai i30 costs €15 a month over 36 months.

Vehicle health checks are also becoming more widespread.

For example, Volvo has an offer on air conditioning systems maintenance while Volkswagen is offering a free vehicle health check.

There is no way to directly compare service offers between brands and there are drawbacks to cut price services.

Honda's aftersales director, John Donohoe, says on 'special price servicing' that there are concerns some vehicle owners are opting to get "budget price services" carried out for them all the time.

"As a result the car never gets a full service as per the manufacturer's recommendations," he says.

"This could turn out to be a bad decision in the months and years ahead not only from a safety and reliability point of view but also with regard to the residual value of the vehicle."

Indo Motoring