Subaru joins the pack

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Showroom - PAUL GOVER CHIEF RE­PORTER

THE best af­ter-sales back-up in Aus­tralia is pro­vided by Fer­rari, which throws a seven-year free ser­vice pack­age in with ev­ery new car it de­liv­ers Down Un­der.

Of course, you’re still go­ing to be spend­ing at least $459,295 for the priv­i­lege, even if the keys to a shiny new Fer­rari Cal­i­for­nia head­line the deal.

There are plenty of cheaper al­ter­na­tives if you’re af­ter some cer­tainty on the ser­vice side, as all but one of the top 10 brands in May have capped-price ser­vice plans.

The only hold­out is Mercedes-Benz but it has two ex­cuses — it hit the top 10 for the first time last month and it has a range of pack­ages it sells with its cars, start­ing with a $2499 Sil­ver three-year ser­vice deal for the ju­nior mod­els.

The other late starter on the capped-price front is Subaru, which fi­nally suc­cumbed to the com­pet­i­tive pres­sures — and, most likely, pres­sure from buy­ers — to ex­pand its af­ter­sales sup­port.

But, like so many things Subaru has done over the years (as in its early adop­tion of the ANCAP road safety pro­gram) it’s gone a step fur­ther. In­stead of pro­vid­ing the ser­vice safety net for the length of its new-car war­ranty, which means three years, it’s ex­tend­ing its sup­port for the life of it cars. It’s also back­dated its capped-price deal to cars from 2006.

“This pro­gram is de­signed to give cus­tomers trans­parency around sched­uled ser­vice costs. It means they can make bet­ter, in­formed choices on how they ser­vice their Subarus,” says Nick Se­nior, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Subaru Aus­tralia.

“Ba­si­cally, capped-price ser­vic­ing sets the max­i­mum price par­tic­i­pat­ing Subaru re­tail­ers will charge for each stan­dard sched­uled ser­vice on ap­pli­ca­ble ve­hi­cles.”

Subaru is also in­tro­duc­ing a free Health Check and Chat for the first month af­ter a new-car de­liv­ery, he says. It will be a check-over and a chance for the owner to get an­swers from a fac­tory-trained ser­vice ad­viser.

And that’s the re­ally im­por­tant thing about such deals. No two are ex­actly the same and it’s im­por­tant to also look into the fine print and con­di­tions, par­tic­u­larly on ser­vice in­ter­vals.

Most com­pa­nies go for 12-monthly ser­vice in­ter­vals, or 15,000km of driv­ing, but Mazda is like Subaru with a whole-oflife deal and Ford and Kia both have seven-year pack­ages.

Honda, Mazda and Nis­san have six-month ser­vice in­ter­vals.

The prices also vary by brands and ser­vice re­quire­ments, so you need to to­tal the costs across the whole pe­riod of the pack­age.

And there are some that cut short of the re­ally big ser­vice work, such as the es­sen­tial re­place­ment of the tim­ing belt.

Se­nior re­in­forces the point as he talks-up the over­due change at Subaru.

“When con­sid­er­ing these pro­grams, be sure that you are com­par­ing ap­ples with ap­ples,” he says.

Late starter leads the way: Subaru joins capped-price ser­vice crowd

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