Most of us have taken our car in for a service only to find a list of unexpected added extras on the bill. Although frustrating we usually accept these extras as we’re told they’re good for the car. They’ll make the car ‘run better’, ‘perform better’, ‘extend its life’, etc. However what most people don’t know is that most of these up-sells are a complete waste of time, adding to your overall car servicing costs.
I used to work at a major dealership where I was incentivised on how much I could up-sell. An engine oil flush “enhances performance and cleans out your system” I was told to say. Most customers were OK to pay the extra $50 on top of their already large service bill because it was ‘best’ for their car. But I’m here to tell you that additives are a complete gimmick and just an extra product to help the dealerships hip pocket. Sell one of those to every customer and each Service Advisor receives another $25 in their pocket (thank you very much).
Yet they are widely up-sold by major dealerships through to small workshops as ‘performance enhancers’ and ‘cleaning agents’ for your car. Modern fuel and other liquids have all the good stuff built in and if you’re servicing your car regularly than you’re already doing what your mechanic will claim you now need. There’s good margin in a relatively small up-sell so it’s easy money for the dealership, a waste of money for you.
So here’s my list of the common up-sell items you’ll find on your service bill. When you need them and when you don’t.
Additives/ treatments/ cleans/ flushes: A waste of money.
Government departments and fleet companies don’t approve any additive costs as they know this is a waste of money and just a gimmick. Modern day fuel and other liquids have the good stuff already built in. A well-serviced car will have what it needs.
If you’ve missed a service you may be recommended an engine oil flush (or clean). Again this is a gimmick. Engine oil is designed to clean the system so only an oil change will do the job of an engine oil clean. If you’ve missed a service we recommend servicing your car a little earlier next time.
Brake fluid: Every 2-years.
Absorbs moisture and corrodes internal brake parts if not replaced.
Cooling system flush: Only recommended if you’ve never (or next to never) on an older car changed your coolant and your radiator shows signs of rust of corrosion.
Tyre rotation: Every service.
Wheel alignment: You should never need one unless your car is pulling to one side or you’ve hit a major pothole. Check your tyre pressures and tyre wear first. If you have uneven tyre wear it’s time to get this done.
Wiper rubbers: Every 5-years.
Typically up-sold if leaving streaks. Sometimes just giving them a good clean will make them work like new again. Some workshops will recommend changing every year which is excessive. You know you need them if you’ve cleaned your wiper rubbers and windscreen and you can still see streaks.
Arm yourself with this information next time you take your car in for a service to avoid unnecessary car servicing costs. If your mechanic or dealership recommends any of these ‘extras’ you can tell them no thanks and save yourself some cash.