How to maintain a car with budget in mind

Receptionist handing customer their car keys

The car maintenance business has been under fire recently, explains Iain Robertson, which is making car owners reluctant to book in their vehicles even for routine servicing and the reasons lie in excess jargon, poor explanations and unanticipated costs.

What the average service centre may have forgotten to do, is inform the customer that other components essential to the reliable operation of the replacement cambelt (a water pump, pulley tensioners and so on) may also need to be replaced. Interestingly, many ‘service centres’ ignore the most important aspect of their business, to SERVICE the customer’s requirements. Part of that service is to explain in uncomplicated terms precisely what might take place on their car.

The same applies to replacing a clutch, as there are associated components that may also need to be replaced, as a result of the clutch plate wearing. Not to replace them would incur additional costs sooner in the vehicle’s life. A recent survey into garage customers’ attitudes revealed that they were truly scared about taking their cars to a service centre. It is a fear related directly to ‘upwards spiralling maintenance costs’, under-pressure workshop staff not explaining clearly the jobs to be carried out, along with the associated cost implications, some of which can be extraordinarily high.

Now into its 41st year of existence, Mr Clutch Autocentres has built a strong reputation on its customer-focused approach. If you visit the company’s website (mrclutch.com), under each mechanical heading for ‘clutches’, ‘cambelts’, ‘brakes’ and other services, you will find a readily understandable explanation for each aspect of vehicle maintenance. As much as humanly possible, all jargon and complexity are removed from the descriptions and the customer is provided with extra peace of mind, a convenient price menu and Mr Clutch Autocentres’ unique, one year, 12,000-miles warranty on ALL work it carries out on all fixed price services to make everything transparent for the customer.

It is not sorcery. It is not a mystery. It is mechanical engineering. However, Mr Clutch Autocentres knows the value of keeping the customer informed, especially if they are waiting for the work to be completed. Of course, even when replacing brake pads, which sounds like a remarkably simple task, once the wheels have been removed and the brake system of the car is accessed and inspected by Mr Clutch Autocentres, additional aspects may become evident. Apart from the friction material (the pads, or linings, as they are known), the brake discs may be out of alignment, excessively worn, or may need replacing, which will add to the initial costs.

Yet, attending to a strict safety remit, the Mr Clutch Autocentre technician may discover that a wheel bearing needs attention and that the brake fluid may also need to be drained and replaced. There is no denying that cars have become increasingly complex but failure to inform customers and then presenting them with an invoice for twice the original quotation, is not the proper way to do things.

Mr Clutch Autocentres can only hope to turn the tide by instilling a fresh sense of confidence within its customers. The surprises may still occur but Mr Clutch Autocentres can soften the impact, with a combination of friendly information, competent servicing and repairs, keen pricing and its unbeatable warranty as back-up. Being a specialist demands an understanding of customers and their needs. It may surprise you to learn that Mr Clutch Autocentres listen to their customers and that is how to keep running costs within reasonable bounds. You can find your local branch today by visiting mrclutch.com/branches.