First, it must be noted that DSF owns old cars, so driving into an authorised dealership to service one has never been an option.
Even after buying a used four-year-old car seven years ago, the car was taken to the dealership only twice, and after seeing their prices it was back to the regular mechanic and enjoying a savings of more than 150% in billings.
Now, for the average car owner who has no knowledge about a trusted mechanic or even where to go for what repairs, they have no choice but to go to an authorised workshop and pay premium prices on parts and labour.
So why is there a premium and is it fair to the nearly new car owner?
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 five-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 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.
Now this is a huge savings of RM488 and it was all done in less than 15 minutes whereas at the authorised dealership it would have taken at least one 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 a 170%-plus profit, right?
This is a little too much, plus taking into consideration the regular battery supplier is also making a profit at RM285.
So where should the line be drawn on profit margins in car maintenance? There are 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.
By the way, the new car authorised dealership recommended our friend change her gearbox mounting and engine mounting as well – this is another story to be shared very soon.
* Pictures by Daniel Fernandez.
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