by Richard Robinson

Car Maintenance is Being Viewed as a Discretionary – It is a perception that needs to be addressed

  • 56% of UK car owners who do not have a service plan in place are considering either missing (33%) or delaying (23%) their vehicle’s annual service in 2022 to save money due to the sharp rise in the cost of living
  • 68% of car owners who said they were looking to make savings this year, planned to reduce motoring-related expenditure during 2022

The cost of living crisis is biting, and car maintenance is viewed as a discretionary cost that too many people can cut. This is the inevitable conclusion from data published by the Motor Ombudsman based on a poll of over 2,000 car owners.

The exception to the decline is people with service plans underlining the importance of providing and, more importantly, promoting such an option actively. I want to highlight the importance of such an approach for used cars.

In a ‘normal’ year, used cars outsell new ones three to one, and if we exclude business users from the equation, the numbers are even more compelling.

Another area of action has to be reaching out to consumers more proactively to promote the value of correct and timely servicing. Reliability, better MPG and a greener car are all good reasons for keeping to the manufacturer specified servicing schedule, as are three hidden costs that might make avoiding servicing a false economy.

  • The acronym FSH – a full service history can help the value of a used car jump by 20% or more
  • Warranty – correct servicing is invariably a core part of the T&Cs of any warranty. Without such a record, any warranty claim risks being invalidated
  • Finance – another T&C that is often overlooked is the need for correct servicing on financed cars, notably, but not exclusively on PCP and PCH agreements. As noted above, the impact of a FSH can be significant and failure to stick to the terms could be costly.

I am mindful that these points may sound like I am highlighting ‘pain points’ for consumers who may be struggling financially. I am, but only because overlooking them can be costly further down the line. However, more than that, I know dealers can use these points to promote service plans, and an affordable, inflation-proof service plan can work for dealers and their customers whether they are buying a new or used car.

And no, we don’t offer service plans, so there is no gain for us in highlighting their value. Instead, I hope to demonstrate our absolute commitment to helping dealers with authentic data and insights.