Servicing is a critical aspect of vehicle maintenance, as it ensures that your car runs efficiently and reliably. And if you’re using a vehicle for commercial purposes, it is critical that you understand the intricacies of servicing, including sourcing for manufacturer-recommended spare parts, oil and lubes.
But since we all could do with saving an extra shilling wherever we can, here are things to keep in mind if you’re hoping to lower servicing costs for a personal or commercial car, and still keep standards high.
1. Source for spare parts
You may not understand the dynamics of spare parts, but it’s not rocket science to know you need to purchase the correct parts for your car. Because most of us don’t have the time to source for these parts, we tend to rely on the mechanic to do it for us. The downside is that it leaves you susceptible to inflated invoices. If you want to reduce your servicing bill, then start by getting your vehicle chassis number and heading to a reliable spares shop. Most of these dealers have an Electronic Parts Catalogue (EPC) that gives you the correct servicing parts for your car based on the chassis number.
2. Lubes and oil
When purchasing oil and lubes for your vehicle, always use manufacturer-recommended oils as they aid in adding longevity to your engines. Kenya has a vehicle severity rating of 25 (harsh climatic conditions), so purchase oils developed for our conditions from established brands that blend these oils to better protect your engine. Most petrol stations will advise you on what oil to purchase based on your intended service intervals.
3. Service intervals
There are three types of service intervals: minor (5,000 kilometres), medium (15,000 kilometres) and major (25,000 kilometres).
Minor service consists of oil and filter changes, plus a top-up of fluids. It costs an average of Sh10,000 for parts and labour, and is done after 5,000 kilometres or three months, whichever comes first. Medium service includes oil and filter changes, adjustment of brake pads and an overall safari check to ensure the vehicle is in good condition. It costs between Sh10,000 and Sh15,000 and is done every six months. Major service is done on a yearly basis as the vehicle undergoes a major check, including replacement of spark/glow plugs, filters, brake pads, fluid top up and inspection. It costs between Sh20,000 and Sh30,000.
4. Inspection report
An inspection report is normally issued after a major service. It basically entails inspecting the vehicle physically under a pit to check mechanical aspects, such as suspension wear and tear, leakages and gearbox linkages. The electrical aspect is also checked, and since a majority of vehicle functions are computer controlled, a mechanic will plug in a diagnostics kit, which will check the system for faults from engine sensors, fuel pumps and in safety systems, like the brakes.
Once vehicle diagnostics is done, the mechanic will compile the mechanical and diagnosis reports that paint a clear picture of the general condition of the car and indicate parts that need replacement. The inspection report, which costs an average of Sh5,000, also allows you to plan ahead, and it saves you the agony of roadside misdiagnosis by quacks out to take your hard-earned cash.