Where To Get Your Leased Car Serviced

Thursday, 22. January 2015

Hi, Graham Hill here, thank you so much for visiting my blog, I hope you learn a lot and as a result end up driving a great car. In order to do so you can get all the information you need by buying my book, An Insider Guide To Car Finance or use me to finance your next car. Happy driving.

As most of my customers are aware you can now have your car serviced at any service or repair centre without the loss of the car’s warranty provided the work is in line with the conditions stipulated by the manufacturer.

Thinking of a change but unsure as to the best way to finance your car? Then you need a copy of my car finance book, Car Finance – A Simple Guide by Graham Hill. Click on the link below to buy the best car finance book on the market, available as a Kindle Book and Paper Back.

Since this European rule, known as Block Exemption, was introduced in 2003 it has meant that anyone who buys a new car carrying a manufacturer’s warranty can have their car serviced and maintained at a non-franchised dealer, thereby saving a substantial amount of money.

However, when you lease a car and you are responsible for the servicing of the vehicle, can the leasing company insist that you only have the car serviced at a main dealer as this would be a contradiction of the regulations? Again, regular readers will know that most leasing companies are happy for you to have the car serviced at non franchised dealers provided the work is carried out in line with the manufacturer’s instructions using original or compatible parts.

But you need to check your contract as these things have a habit of changing without notice. Mercedes-Benz changed their rules a few years ago so that if you return a lease car (including PCP) and the service work has been carried out by a non authorised service/repair centre they will impose an end of lease charge, in some cases, over £1,000, even though the car has been serviced on time and even using Mercedes original parts.

I took some legal advice on this and was advised that whilst the car is owned by the finance company they can include terms relating to the service and maintenance of the car. So whilst they may be out of line with the rest of the leasing industry they are not acting, on the face of it, illegally, albeit that they are acting outside the spirit of the law.

But there are two issues on which they could justify their stance. The first is the quality of the work which Mercedes could argue would be of a lower standard if carried out by a service centre. I would argue this every day of the week having received some of the worst services ever when I have had a Mercedes serviced by a main dealer in the past.

On the other side of the coin a judge might argue that a customer should be free, in an open market, and given the Block Exemption law, to choose where the car is serviced – it is the whole point of the law to make it competitive and stop the protectionist approach that most manufacturers had used when insisting that their cars are serviced at a main dealer or lose your warranty before it changed in 2003.

The other argument could relate to resale value of the car when it is returned which they could argue would be less than if the car had not been serviced by a main dealer. However, they list a scale of charges which could suggest a penalty, which in these circumstances could be considered illegal.

If, through breach of contract, you were to cause the other party a loss they can not charge anything above their losses incurred. Having spoken to many trade buyers over the years most would not draw a distinction between a car that has ‘Full Service History’ and ‘Full Mercedes Benz Service History’ so it might be difficult to prove their case against a customer in front of a judge.

If you have been charged a ‘penalty’ by MB Finance and you are unhappy about it you could take out a complaint through the Financial Ombudsman Service if you are a ‘consumer’. Putting MB Finance to one side the point of all this is that Halfords are about to launch an aggressive new campaign to take away a larger share of the £10 billion a year after care market from main dealers.

This comes on the back of the Auto Express Driver Power Survey in which a large number of dealer networks were criticised by drivers. Traditionally the Halfords target market has been 3 – 5 year old cars but the new approach will attract new to 3 year old car drivers looking to save up to 40% of the labour cost. They will be introducing new receptions that will look more like the pods you will see in an Apple store and they will offer a collect and return service.

The receptions will also have Wi-Fi facilities and you will even be able to watch your car being serviced on an iPad that they will provide for your use. So it may be worth considering Halfords for your next service but don’t forget to check your lease agreement first and don’t forget you can always negotiate with the main dealer before booking your car in for a service. By Graham Hill

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