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Old 11th August 2013, 05:59   #1
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Default Long Service Intervals: Pros & Cons

Service intervals are increasingly far apart. To most motorists, this appears to be a good thing. Fewer garage bills, less inconvenience. I have even read threads on here which offer a lot of sound advice, yet warn against taking your vehicle for a check or service more often than the official advice.

OK, you now assume I'm in charge of increasing garage profits?! I can understand why some may jump to this conclusion. But think again - I have little money to spare, have always done my own car maintenance and I can see the truth!

The further apart a car's service interval, the cheaper that car appears to be to run. More sophisticated, even. Motorists have a tendency to see the garage as the enemy - ready to take advantage wherever there is ignorance. So to start with, my advice is to lose as much ignorance as you can, car-wise. There is a lot of good information on this forum. Find a garage you can trust and stick with them. Let them know you enjoy your car and understand its workings on a fundamnetal level. Ask their advice, check to see it makes sense.

Service intervals are often stretched to 20,000km or more. Car companies are not stupid. They know that less servicing appeals to both private and corporate owners. They know that the obligatory semi-synthetic oil - their own branded oil - makes them more money than a good quality mineral oil, which needs to be changed at least every 10,000km. And so it starts to become even more clever. As well as selling more cars based on lower running costs, consider brake components. With a car seen every 10,000km, pads may be left in place when half worn, if it is known they will last another 10k with ease. Those half worn at 20k will be changed since they may/will not last another 20k. The same goes for other work too - the less frequently a garage sees a car, the more likely it is to replace parts which otherwise would not need replacing.

The makers also know that motorists often distrust garages, so that they sometimes ignore advice about replacement - in case of wear before the next (long-way-off) service. In general, if something wears out and causes a breakdown, there is more money to be made. More parts are required, damage may have been caused and there may even be a recovery fee.

This isn't to say that cars haven't changed, they certainly have. But the regular oil change and greasing has been replaced with the much more expensive cambelt change, boosted (from the garage's point of view) by more parts sales because of the infrequency with which they see a given vehicle. Manufacturers aren't daft - they work this out very carefully. Many 1980s VWs reputedly never broke their camblets, and many engines were non-interference (ie they wouldn't damage even if the belt broke). I changed the belts anyway, it cost less than 5/400rupees in the 1990s. Today, the equivalent VW needs a parts box which costs at least 25 times that. with other new associated parts, since they are made from plastic. Also a new waterpump, if you are to save a lot of money down the line. Not only that, but a job which took less than an hour may now take the best part of a day. Whether you are capable of doing the work yourself or not, this adds a lot of cost. Cambelts developed a bad reputation for breaking and wrecking engines, so many manufacturers have started using chains. The trouble is, these look more like something you may buy your girlfriend or wife than something mechanical. They often need replacement at 160,000km and wear faster the less often oil is changed.

Sensible people I know still have their oil changed every 10,000km minimum, at which point the brakes can be easily checked and the greatest life can be gained from them. Other potential problems can be nipped in the bud, before they cause damage or excess wear. Read the small print - it will probably say to reduce the interval if vehicle use is in a harsh environment. What is harsh? Hot, dusty, cold, short journeys, and so on. Few take heed. Long service intervals are a great selling point.
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Old 11th August 2013, 10:30   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlatOut View Post
Service intervals are increasingly far apart. To most motorists, this appears to be a good thing. Fewer garage bills, less inconvenience. I have even read threads on here which offer a lot of sound advice, yet warn against taking your vehicle for a check or service more often than the official advice.



This isn't to say that cars haven't changed, they certainly have. But the regular oil change and greasing has been replaced with the much more expensive cambelt change, journeys, and so on. Few take heed. Long service intervals are a great selling point.
Good insights!

My car is on a One Year or 15000kms interval plan.
I cannot drive more than 10000-12000 kms per annum so I stick with the One Year interval. Sometimes I visit the garage just to take an opinion on something.
Its been working for me so far. Almost two years done and only three visits. The second service will happen in November this year.
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Old 11th August 2013, 17:26   #3
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Default re: Long Service Intervals: Pros & Cons

I have mixed opinions on whether extended service intervals should be considered a scam or not.

I agree with your viewpoint that most cars can do with shorter oil change intervals than the 15k or 20k km that manufacturers recommend, given that they are used in less-than-ideal / harsh conditions as you describe.

However, brake pads usually have a wear indicator, either in the form of a metal strip that squeals on contact with the disc, or sensors in high-end cars - thus allowing for maximum utilization of pad material irrespective of how hard or gently the car is driven. Cam belt changes are pre-determined by the manufacturer for change after a fixed number of km, which takes into account a safety margin in case the owner overshoots that interval.

Considering that we in India face scams where a dealer asks the customer to bring his car in more frequently than the manufacturer recommends (Dealer SCAM : Service the car *more frequently* than required!), this thread may well contribute to supporting such scams - next time, a dealer may well quote this thread and tell a customer that more-frequent-than-recommended service intervals are good for his car! And I'll need to add one more post to this article which lists almost all possible scams in India (ARTICLE: Common SCAMS Encountered on Indian Roads - A Compendium).

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Old 11th August 2013, 18:48   #4
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Default re: Long Service Intervals: Pros & Cons

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Read the small print - it will probably say to reduce the interval if vehicle use is in a harsh environment. What is harsh? Hot, dusty, cold, short journeys, and so on. Few take heed.
Yes. And after reading the manual and assessing the type of usage the other two things you can do , are:
a) go through your car's service records before you take her in for service. In other words, be familiar with what has been done to the car the last three times it has been to the garage.
b) Between service intervals - assiduously maintain a notebook, of any peculiar sound/vibration/lights on dashboard which you experience , and as soon as the list exceeds X items (for me - X is 5), schedule an appointment.

Further, based on my observations of many Indian A.S.S. points :

a) When opening a job-card, the checks made on the car, are at best cursory in nature, designed to ensure compliance with the QC checklist, rather than genuinely unearth problems that can lead to expensive repair bills in the near future.


b) offering 'service packages' to the customer - depending on specific promotions by either the dealer or the manufacturer itself . So, for instance, whether one needs it or not, the service advisor can be observed to recommend an 'engine flush' . To the uninformed, such advise might seem 'genuine expert advise' and they pay...

c) loading the bill with unnecessary things. I have found on occasion that the bill contained unreasonable charges for labor and parts replacement - which were definitely not due for replacement (definitely not as per the manual, and quite definitely not due to failure). Be careful about consumables in this category - example - wiper blades, bulbs , and even the quantity of engine oil used for an oil change.

This trend is possibly due to multiple reasons not the least of which are:
1) Training of new service advisers / mechanics has not kept pace with increased Volumes of vehicles.
2) Service Bay time per vehicle has decreased over the years - and not all of it is due to productivity. Time spent for vehicle inspection and diagnosis of problems has fallen, but the technology to infallibly confirm diagnosis has not kept pace with this constraint.
3) Customer service is now not only about ensuring a satisfied customer, but also about ensuring profitability and revenue.
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Old 11th August 2013, 18:51   #5
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Default re: Long Service Intervals: Pros & Cons

I don't understand the point. When the A-star was first launched, it was probably the first hatch to have a 15k service interval, no running in required. Today even the cheapest car like the Nano has a 10k/annual service interval which ensures I don't see the garage folks more than once a year - unless there are running repairs.

Running in an engine is going to become a thing of the past, with car companies insisting the vehicle should be brought in at 15k for its first service interval. So why should we listen to you and go for more frequent checkups, unless there are symptoms of something wrong?

My Nano for instance has a 10k/annual service, with the first 'checkup' coming up after 1k. It only required an inspection to ensure the various hoses, seals, oil levels etc were good and there were no unchecked defects in the manufacture. The second free service comes up after one year, and the third free service comes up after two years. So for the first two years, I don't spend a penny except for oil and filter. The vehicle has a 4 year/60k warranty which would cover any other defective pieces.

So the point is: Why do you think I should take my car to the service centre more often? Are we taking the doctrine of preventive maintenance a bit too far??
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Old 11th August 2013, 20:40   #6
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Default re: Long Service Intervals: Pros & Cons

Can you share some data?
You made a statement calling something a scam. I can believe you if you can show me some data which shows that vehicles with longer service intervals have a shorter engine life.

Alternatively, you can show lab results showing that 10,000kms old engine oil has significantly greater lubricating properties than 20,000kms engine oil(Using recommended engine oil).

Without data I may wonder if the basic premise of this thread is a scam.
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Old 11th August 2013, 20:42   #7
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I have a habit of taking my ritz vdi and Chevy spark for regular checkups at the A.S.S.. Even though the interval is of 10k kms but every 3-3.5k kms I do take an opinion on the overall health checkup of the engine and transmission so that I do not land in trouble at regular service. The charge is just 100-150 RS. So it does not matter to me as it gives me 100% peace of mind. Even minor squeaks and noises are not present in both my vehicles and are still in mint condition
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Old 11th August 2013, 21:32   #8
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So it does not matter to me as it gives me 100% peace of mind. Even minor squeaks and noises are not present in both my vehicles and are still in mint condition
And how sure you are it's because of taking your vehicles for inspection to them every 3k to 3.5k? If they are only charging you a hundred bucks, obviously they don't change the bushes and other parts, they merely inspect it. So the health of your vehicles is not due to the inspections, but because of the quality manufacturing and probably because of your driving style. The only benefit you get is in case there are any problems you may detect them earlier.

And as for the actual inspection, I doubt if they comb the vehicle thoroughly to identify and diagnose each and every squeak or rattle from a vehicle. A hundred bucks is pittance for a job that would take a few hours. It's probably more like checking the various oil levels, a cursory glance through the underbody/other areas to check if there any obvious signs indicating trouble, and maybe a short test drive to confirm there are no abnormal noises.
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Old 11th August 2013, 21:46   #9
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Default re: Long Service Intervals: Pros & Cons

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Can you share some data?


I would also like to see some solid data to back this claim.

In my personal experience with Maruti, I stuck with the manufacturer recommended 10k interval instead of the dealer recommended 5k.
This 5k interval that the dealer likes to bring in is just a inspection and water wash.

I can do that myself.
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Old 11th August 2013, 22:24   #10
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I would also like to see some solid data to back this claim.

In my personal experience with Maruti, I stuck with the manufacturer recommended 10k interval instead of the dealer recommended 5k.
This 5k interval that the dealer likes to bring in is just a inspection and water wash.

I can do that myself.
Agreed.

Same with Toyota A.S.S. - the dealers require us to bring the car in for 'inspection' and a wash every 5k kms, and charge a little over Rs 1000 for the effort.

Yes it does get rid of the dirt, but Rs 1000/-! give me a break! My regular car wash guy washes every nook and cranny every day for Rs 500/- a month!

And he does not require me to stand in queue for the service!
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Old 11th August 2013, 22:38   #11
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Default re: Long Service Intervals: Pros & Cons

I disagree. Most components these days have self-diagnostic/health-check capabilities. So condition based or longer service interval is actually possible due to technological advances. I personally hate 5K service intervals and I consider them a scam to waste my time and money. The manufacturers are also trying to bump up the car sales by selling service-inclusive packages so it is in their interest as well to keep service intervals longer.
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Old 12th August 2013, 15:32   #12
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And how sure you are it's because of taking your vehicles for inspection to them every 3k to 3.5k? If they are only charging you a hundred bucks, obviously they don't change the bushes and other parts, they merely inspect it. So the health of your vehicles is not due to the inspections, but because of the quality manufacturing and probably because of your driving style. The only benefit you get is in case there are any problems you may detect them earlier.

And as for the actual inspection, I doubt if they comb the vehicle thoroughly to identify and diagnose each and every squeak or rattle from a vehicle. A hundred bucks is pittance for a job that would take a few hours. It's probably more like checking the various oil levels, a cursory glance through the underbody/other areas to check if there any obvious signs indicating trouble, and maybe a short test drive to confirm there are no abnormal noises.

the mental peace that you get after getting it checked from and A.S.S. is really great. lets say-god forbid, if something happens to your car when you are out on the roads, you always have them to blame. Some of my aquaintences on the contrary rarely go for inspection/service to A.S.S. and as a result, they face constant breakdowns of their vehicles. be it a TATA or a maruti or honda. i cannot agree that all of them have lemons. Rana motors in delhi is a brilliant example. they really charge peanuts for these checkups and moreover, i have a long term relation with them so everything is a free and fair advice. Let me get down one example to you. I took my car to them to show the drive shaft boot rubber which had got cut and there was grease all over. Asked them to change the entire shaft which he principally declined and said that he can chage the boot rubber for 45 rs only. The roadside service centre will never advice for any such thing coming to you.

Secondly, all my fluids, shockers, chassis etc gets checked thoroughly by placing it on the hydraulic lift. Even a small road test is done and till the time i am not satisfied, i am not allowed to go from the service centre.

Thirdly, whenever, i take it to the service centre as it is very convinient for me and even the charges are very negligible. normall before any long drive or highway dash.

Also IMO the service interval of the vehicle is just an indicator of the fact that you must keep a tab on your vehicles well being. just as we need to keep ourselves fit with excercises and regular checkups, so do our vehicles. Lets say if i am suffering from fever, i better take necessary precautions rather than visit some roadside "peer baba" or wait for my yearly checkups. Same with my vehicles. For me my vehicle is not just a mode of travel from point A to point B. rather, it is more of a companion who will love me back if i love it.
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Old 12th August 2013, 16:36   #13
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Default re: Long Service Intervals: Pros & Cons

I would like to make some points here and ask everyone if they could give me a reasonable answer.

I own a Chevrolet Beat 2011 Petrol. The Service Interval specified by Chevrolet is/was 6 months / 5000 kms whichever is earlier.

The last service I got done was in April 2013. This was my 2Yrs / 20000 kms Service. This means that my next service is due in October 2013 (2.5 Yrs or 25000 kms, whichever earlier).
Now I see that Chevrolet has changed this to weird intervals. So as per the new specification it should be done at 2.5 Years / 37500 kms instead of 25000 kms.

Which means that I have to run the car an additional 12000 kms for it to be fit for the due service !!!

My questions are:
- What are the changes that Chevy has done to my car so that the feel that now, after 2.5 years, my car can run an additional 12000 kms without a check up ?
- Why does this Service Interval Change affect the older purchased cars also ?
- If Chevy has introduced some new technology or high quality parts so that the car requires lesser visit to the CASS, then it is only for the new models.
When my Beat was manufactured, it was designed to get serviced at every 5000 km, so why should the service interval change for my car also ?

My perception is - Yes, this is a possible scam with manufacturers specifying longer service intervals to gain more profit out of Genuine Parts Replacements, which worries me because I drive in harsh conditions (Bangalore City) and definitely I need fluid and brake checkups done every 6 months or 5000 kms, because the parts and technology in my car are from 2011 and not from 2013. And I don't want to get surprised with huge parts replacement bills at each service, because they were not maintained and warranted a replacement only.

Chevy Service Interval Discussion - (Chevrolet Beat : Test Drive & Review)HERE

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Old 12th August 2013, 16:56   #14
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Default re: Long Service Intervals: Pros & Cons

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Originally Posted by joybhowmik View Post
Same with Toyota A.S.S. - the dealers require us to bring the car in for 'inspection' and a wash every 5k kms, and charge a little over Rs 1000 for the effort.
Rs.1,000/-? I go to a Maruti Authorized Service Station for a check if there are any noises so they inspect it, adjust it, wash it, and charge me Rs.100/- for something that takes 3 hours of their time. My only concern is the distance to the service center that I go to as I don't have any other good MASS nearby (there are 2 others that are closer but are known for their terrible service). They don't pick up or deliver vehicles either, which has me thinking if I should consider a different brand but each time Maruti manages to put smiles on its customers.
Are you getting a comprehensive check-up, top-up, and wheel alignment/balancing for the Rs.1,000/-? If not, you should. At the minimum, at least a wheel alignment/balancing, which should cost them nothing and is needed if you drive in the pot-hole ridden roads during the monsoons.

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Old 12th August 2013, 17:45   #15
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Default re: Long Service Intervals: Pros & Cons

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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
Can you share some data?
You made a statement calling something a scam. I can believe you if you can show me some data which shows that vehicles with longer service intervals have a shorter engine life.

Alternatively, you can show lab results showing that 10,000kms old engine oil has significantly greater lubricating properties than 20,000kms engine oil(Using recommended engine oil).

Without data I may wonder if the basic premise of this thread is a scam.
Perhaps one doesn't really need a PhD thesis on this matter.
I remember very clearly that Skoda increased the service interval (a few years back) even thought there were no changes made in their cars, engine oils, service methodologies or environmental conditions in India.

It was done purely to make it appear cheaper to maintain the vehicle.
Wouldn't you call it scam?
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