Seven of the best
Ford’s new service program changes the game
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.