Seven of the best

Ford’s new ser­vice pro­gram changes the game

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News - NEIL DOWLING

THE bat­tle for cus­tomers is be­ing waged in the back rooms of deal­er­ships as ser­vice costs come un­der the mi­cro­scope.

Ford has Aus­tralia’s long­est ser­vice pro­gram, hav­ing this week ex­tended its capped-price ser­vice pro­gram to seven years and 135,000km (from six years and 105,00km).

Ford says there is value in the capped-price pro­gram — the con­cept of con­firm­ing a max­i­mum ser­vice cost for a set pe­riod of own­er­ship. It logged an in­crease of 13,000 ser­vice cus­tomers last year — its pro­gram started in July 2011.

The myFord pro­gram now comes with two new lures — 12 months’ free mem­ber­ship to the state auto club in­clud­ing road­side as­sis­tance and, for commercial oper­a­tors, the in­clu­sion of the Tran­sit van.

Ford also in­tro­duced max­i­mum charges for brake ser­vic­ing: $259 for fac­tory front disc pads, $219 for rear pads and $88 for disc ro­tor ma­chin­ing. (Fal­con and Ter­ri­tory rear pads are $259.)

It is avail­able on all Ford ve­hi­cles built since 2007.

Of the top 10 pas­sen­ger car mak­ers (by year-to-date sales to Fe­bru­ary 28) all — in­clud­ing Mercedes-Benz — have a capped-price ser­vice pro­gram.

Re­cent en­tries to the list in­clude Honda and Mazda while Subaru — the only vol­ume small-car maker with­out a pro­gram — is ex­pected to launch around the mid­dle of the year.

But an­nual ser­vice costs pro­vided by Subaru for its 2.0-litre Im­preza range show it to be well within the price bracket of ri­vals’ capped-price ser­vice pro­grams.

One of the first to ex­pand on the three-year pro­gram was Kia. It says its cus­tomer ser­vice sur­veys since launch last year have shown its five-year pro­gram has boosted busi­ness for its deal­ers.

Prices checked this week by Cars­guide from 10 small-car mak­ers vary enor­mously in an­nual out­lay from $185 (Holden Cruze) to $588 (Nis­san Pul­sar). Buy­ers should con­sider that some cars need twiceyearly ser­vices, po­ten­tially doubling cost and adding to in­con­ve­nience.

The pro­grams were in­tro­duced to re­tain ser­vice cus­tomers. Ser­vice and parts are among the most prof­itable op­er­a­tions of a deal­er­ship, com­pen­sat­ing for re­duced profit mar­gins on new-car sales.

One sell­ing point for cus­tomers is that capped-price ser­vice pro­grams are car­ried out by fac­tory-trained tech­ni­cians us­ing the man­u­fac­turer’s ser­vice and di­ag­nos­tic equip­ment.

Dealer ser­viced ve­hi­cles can have higher re­sale value.

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