Car buyers all too easily confuse service plans with maintenance plans.
But, there is a huge difference between the two – and to confuse things even more, the differences between various manufacturers’ service and maintenance plans are unfortunately also pretty big.
It’s important to know these when deciding on a plan that will suit you best.
Apart from service and maintenance plans, a third way to get greater motoring peace of mind, especially if you are buying second-hand, is to buy an extended warranty.
Here is a look at the essential differences to help you make the right choice.
Regular servicing is quite restricted and is as per the owner’s handbook, which typically covers oils, engine coolant, filters, spark plugs, remote-control batteries and scheduled labour costs.
This is what a service plan covers. This cover is “free” on many new vehicles these days, often for a period of two or three years, sometimes even five years.
The cost of this cover is built into the selling price.
Non-scheduled maintenance and repairs, internal and external trim, bodywork and paint damage that can arise due to normal wear and tear are all things that are not normally covered as well as all glass, tyres, wheels, wheel alignment, accessories and electrical wiring components.
Furthermore, manufacturer General Motors’ (GM) service plan, for example, does not cover the following:
- Friction components, such as brake pads, brake disks and clutches
- Shocks, exhaust systems, bulbs, headlamps, tail light bulbs, tyres, wheel alignment, wheel balancing and puncture repairs
- Any accident or impact damage as well as rust repairs (normal rust or corrosion warranty applies)
- Telephone kits and related accessories fitted to the vehicle, vehicle tracking, anti-hijacking or similar devices.
- Rust inspection and rust prevention treatment, paint, trim and upholstery repairs,
- Any cleaning and valet services, fuel, top-up fluids and any fuel or oil additives
- Windscreens, windows, headlights, tail lights, lenses and other plastic or glass
- Any item or missing part.
- Repairs and maintenance of the vehicle occasioned by driver or owner error, negligence, abuse and/or outside interference.
- Repairs arising from the failure of the owner or driver to comply with the obligations and warranties referred to in the service-plan agreement.
This is typical for most manufacturers.
A maintenance plan covers all scheduled maintenance and fair wear and tear items, including the usual service items mentioned above, but adds items such as wiper blades or brake discs that are traditionally not covered.Basically, this means that you pay only for tyres and fuel.
This is important if you buy a Volkswagen.
The following are usually excluded from maintenance plans:
- Tyres, wheel alignment, wheel balancing and puncture repairs and damaged wheels
- Rust inspection and rust prevention treatment, any accident or impact damage as well as rust repairs (normal rust or corrosion warranty applies)
- Windscreens, windows, lights, lenses and other plastic or glass.
- Paint, trim and upholstery repairs, cleaning and preservation treatment.
- Telephone kits and related accessories fitted to the vehicle as well as vehicle-tracking, anti-hijacking or similar devices.
- Any item or missing part.
- Repairs and maintenance of the vehicle as a result of driver or owner error, negligence, abuse or outside interference.
- In effect your only running costs will be fuel, tyres and care as well as any accessories you may have added.
An extended warranty covers repair of the engine, fuel system, engine cooling, gaskets, engine management systems, starter and solenoid, air conditioning, alternator, transmission, drive shafts, axles, steering, brakes and bearings, should there be a failure.
It is almost a must-have when you buy second-hand. You are under no obligation to take up the manufacturer’s plan. There are reputable third-party insurers.
Many maintenance plans have to be taken-up when purchasing the vehicle or within the standard service or warranty plan. Costs for extended warranty vary quite a bit. You will need to ask your dealer for quotes.
However, one thing to note is that the cost difference between a service plan and a maintenance plan is quite sizeable. Another type of cover that is quite useful to have is a body or touch-up cover plan.
This covers your car for minor dents and scratches like trolley damage.