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Are Car Service Plans Cheaper Than Paying As You Go?

Buying a new or used car is one thing. Considering the perfect service plan for your new vehicle is another. Should you pay for a car service plan or pay as you go? Both options have their pros and cons, but which one is more cost-effective in the long run? In this article, we will answer all of these questions and even show you how to check the service history of any used car in seconds.

What is a car service plan?

What is a car service plan?

A car service plan is a pre-payment plan that covers a certain number of car services for a period. It is sometimes set to a specific number of miles covered by the vehicle.

By paying a fixed monthly or annual fee, you’ll have access to a range of scheduled services and car maintenance tasks, often at a discounted rate compared to paying individually. 

Are car service plans worth it? Yes! This proactive approach not only spreads the cost of maintenance evenly throughout the year but also helps prevent larger, more costly issues arising due to neglect.

The vehicle parts and services covered with a car service plan depends on the provider, but generally, your vehicle will be serviced from time to time (scheduled servicing) and you can expect to have some additional services including repairs and perhaps parts replacement.

How car service plans work

It’s important to know and understand how a car service plan works before signing up for one. When purchasing a new car, dealers often present you with the option of a service plan.

This plan involves a one-time or monthly payment that covers the cost of a specified number of scheduled services. It may also be for a set mileage or time. You need to verify this with your provider before committing.

How much do they cost? The cost of these plans isn’t set in stone. It wholly depends on the dealership/provider, your vehicle type, and the duration you want. To get an accurate value, make sure to ask for a price list from the provider and understand its implications for your monthly budget.

To give you some direction; an average servicing plan for a basic make/model may cost around £100 per year. For servicing and maintenance for a luxury car, we may be looking at a cost of servicing of up to £1000 per year.

Are car service plans cheaper than paying as you go?

Whether a car service plan is cheaper than paying as you go depends on several factors:

Pros of service plans

  • Discounted prices: Major service centres often offer discounted rates compared to paying individually for each service. This means you can save some money over the years and it is a good idea if you anticipate needing all the included services.
  • Predictable costs: You know exactly what you’ll pay throughout the plan’s duration, allowing for better budgeting.
  • Convenience: No worrying about unexpected repair bills or service costs fluctuating.
  • Potential warranty benefit: Some plans extend your car’s warranty, offering free repairs for covered components.

Cons of service plans

  • Overpaying: Getting your car services at a dealership is mostly more expensive than a regular auto mechanic shop or an independent garage. You might overpay for services you don’t need, especially if you drive less than average.
  • Limited coverage: Most plans only cover basic and essential maintenance, not unforeseen repairs or parts outside the plan.
  • Dealer restrictions: Many plans restrict you to servicing at the dealership, which can be more expensive than independent garages and less flexible. Going back to the dealership means you might be given new car offers or other offers you may need.
  • Expiration: Unused services are typically forfeited when the plan expires.

Factors to consider before getting a servicing plan

  • Your driving habits: Do you drive frequently and expect regular maintenance?
  • Service history: Does your car have a history of needing repairs beyond basic maintenance?
  • Plan details: What services are included? Are there exclusions or limitations?
  • Dealer vs. independent garages: Compare prices and services offered by both options.
  • Plan cost: Analyze the total cost of the plan versus estimated individual service costs.

Ultimately, the decision depends on your individual needs and preferences. Research thoroughly, compare different plans and service providers, and calculate the potential costs for both options before making a decision.

READ ALSO: The Importance of Registration Number Checks for UK Car Buyers

Do many people take car service plans?

car service

Approximately 50% of car owners find car servicing plans more appealing than the pay-as-you-go approach for vehicle maintenance. This is because they have little or nothing to worry about regarding their vehicle’s service or maintenance status. With the convenience of a service plan, drivers can rest assured knowing that their car’s maintenance needs are taken care of without the stress of unexpected expenses. 

As more drivers recognize the value and peace of mind that car service plans offer, these plans are gaining more and more popularity.

What is included in a vehicle service plan?

The specifics can vary, but typically, a car service plan covers routine maintenance tasks such as oil changes, filter replacements, brake inspections, and fluid top-ups.

Full service plans often include more comprehensive checks, such as a 40-point inspection, air conditioning service, and spark plug replacement.

Some plans also cover MOTs (Ministry of Transport tests) and roadside assistance.

What happens to the plan if I change my car?

If you change your car during the plan period, you’ll need to check the terms and conditions. Some plans are transferable to a new vehicle, while others may not be. If the plan isn’t transferable, you might lose any remaining service credits. 

This is why it is very important to understand the dealership or service center’s terms and conditions before agreeing to a plan.

General Tips For Purchasing a Service Plan

Before getting started and choosing one of the service plans for cars in the UK, there are some tips you need to know and remember:

  • Assess your needs based on driving habits, mileage, and vehicle age.
  • Research providers, comparing offerings, cost of the service, and customer reviews.
  • Understand the terms, including coverage and number of services, exclusions, and limitations. You can check if you can get national coverage.
  • How many times a month/year can your vehicle be serviced? What do you need to do before booking an appointment? Do they create car service schedules? Make sure to get the answer to all these questions.
  • Understand if you can get discounts with long-term plans and note this down.
  • Check for flexibility in payment options, coverage levels, and service providers.
  • Find out if you can cancel the plan with time, or transfer it to another car if you decide to change cars in the future.
  • Consider additional benefits your car needs like roadside assistance, full service, and MOT tests.
  • Factor in long-term savings potential, including reduced maintenance costs and enhanced resale value.
  • When considering whether to opt for a car service plan or pay as you go, it’s also worth evaluating the potential long-term savings and peace of mind each option offers.

With these tips at your fingertips, you simply cannot go wrong with a service plan. If you are still scouting for a used car for purchase, it is recommended that you take a look at the car’s service records and MOT service history.

These give you an idea of how maintained the car has been over the years and how well it will serve you after purchase. Need to know how to check the MOT history of any vehicle before purchase? Get a car reg check with Smart Car Check!

Instant MOT Service History Checks

mot history

MOT service history is a crucial record for vehicle owners, buyers, and sellers. The Ministry of Transport (MOT) test is a mandatory annual examination for vehicles over three years old in the UK. During the MOT, various safety and environmental aspects are thoroughly checked, including brakes, lights, exhaust emissions, and structural integrity.

These are some of the details you need to know if you’re buying a car in the UK. With access to the MOT and service history of any car through a Reg number check, you can determine the vehicle’s current condition and determine its overall reliability. You can also view vehicle specifications, outstanding finance, stolen records, car registration details, ownership records, and more.

To get a reg number check, please follow these simple steps:

  • Navigate to the form on this page
  • Enter the plate number/reg number into the form
  • Fill out the rest of the form and submit it.

Once you’ve paid, you will have your detailed car history report in seconds. If you want to sell your car, a car history check also gives you a clear estimate of your vehicle’s worth and its current condition. Don’t complete a purchase or sale without a car history check. Get one now!

Frequently Asked Questions

 A service plan for cars is a pre-payment arrangement that covers a certain number of scheduled services over a specified period. It typically involves paying monthly or annual fees to access discounted rates for maintenance tasks.

A full car service typically includes routine maintenance tasks such as oil changes, filter replacements, brake inspections, fluid top-ups, and comprehensive checks like a 40-point inspection, air conditioning service, and spark plug replacement. 

The cost of an average annual service can vary depending on factors like the make/model of the vehicle, the service provider, and the specific services included. According to NerdWallet, on average, a basic servicing plan for a standard vehicle may cost around £100 per year, while more comprehensive plans for high-end cars could reach up to £1000 per year.

Whether it’s worth paying for a car service depends on factors like your driving habits, the age and condition of your vehicle, and your budget. While service plans offer discounted rates, predictable costs, and convenience, some drivers may find they overpay for services they don’t need. It’s essential to weigh the pros and cons and consider your individual needs before making a decision.

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