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Servicing A Classic Part 1

Maintenance Matters Published: 12th Dec 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Servicing A Classic Part 1 Main dealers are wooing motorists of older cars back to the fold with keen prices and other incentives, like free MoTs or 12 months breakdown cover
Servicing A Classic Part 1 Benefit of a main dealer includes a stamp in the service book which is critical on prestige brands
Servicing A Classic Part 1 Vauxhall’s popular Masterfi t was one of the first VM-backed all makes repair and service programmes
Servicing A Classic Part 1 Main dealer schedules are adhered to (Ford Value Service shown) but is that suffi cient for older cars?
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In the fi rst of a two-part series we look at servicing a classic starting with how main dealers – of all people – can help…

It’s reckoned that a fifth of motorists don’t bother having their cars serviced these days – but surely this can’t include classic car owners because they know the worth of keeping their pride and joys in tip-top shape? The reason for motorists shying away from the workshops is pure belt tightening plus increased reliability of today’s cars, but that’s a false economy irrespective of how old your ride is. Main dealers are feeling the pinch just as much as ‘Fred’s in sheds’ which is why many are hitting back with some tempting servicing deals, some of which are tailored just as much for classics.

A hundred quid doesn’t buy you much these days but it can service your car at a main dealer. Vauxhall and Ford are both offering Value services which at £99 also includes a year’s breakdown cover! Go on the web and you’ll fi nd similar deals also being offered by Jaguar and Land Rover while Audi – although dearer starting from £149 – provides a free MoT for as long as you keep the car (although it must be serviced at a main dealer, of course). At these sort of prices, is it worth opening your tool box?

Well, after sampling a number of the schemes, yes and no. It depends on your classic’s age of course but the carmakers claim any age of vehicle can be accommodated in their workshops. However not every mechanic has seen a set of c.b points before let alone know how to fi t them. Or ever adjusted valve clearances…

Main dealers operate on fi xed repair times and so a set schedule is adhered to (and we mean adhered to!) which may be to the detriment of an older vehicle. For example, Audi mechanics don’t remove the wheels to fully inspect the brakes and hubs while the transmission’s oil level isn’t checked even on a major service; just the sort of important items a car over ten years old need we reckon. On the other hand the MoT we had carried out at Southend Audi (01268 92189) was one of the toughest we’ve experienced for a long, long time…

What you also get with the Audi programmes at many of its dealers is a free Health Check, even if you don’t intend having your car serviced by the dealer. A further new innovation is the excellent ‘Direct Reception’ where the owner is linked to the technician, via a webcam, to go through the vehicle check in the safety and comfort of the showroom as faults are spotted and explained. It is hoped that eventually the service will be offered via a link to the car owner’s PC or stored on a CD.

The Ford and Vauxhall service plans appeared more comprehensive (wheels off, full brake check by the former, for example) but as Essex Ford (based at Ford’s famous Dunton research and development site in Essex, no less) pointed out, an increasing number of owners are now simply having a basic ‘Value’ service carried out annually, perhaps with certain additional work. However this may not qualify as the right service for that particular vehicle given its mileage and operating criteria. The set Ford Value service includes an oil change, a new oil fi lter and a new air fi lter and vehicles also benefit from a free Visual Health Check covering more than 25 maintenance and safety assessments. The Visual Health Check provides customers with an easy-to-understand summary that gives a ‘red’, ‘amber’ or ‘green’ status for vital components and systems. Red means that attention is required now and amber that it will be needed in the near future.

A major benefi t from a main agent service is that stamp in the service booklet and a dealer stamp is worth a lot on prestige vehicles. You are also assured of top lubricants and genuine parts being used.

Our view? If you have a fairly modern classic, such as an Audi S3, Escort Cosworth etc then there’s a lot to be said about having a main dealer service carried out – perhaps not all the time but occasionally to keep the service booklet up to speed. But on older classics which need a little more TLC, a dealer is unlikely to sympathise or deviate from their schedules.

A fi nal thought? Like or loathe dealers, but there’s some excellent value schemes currently around… and any motorist who can’t afford a proper service (complete with breakdown cover or a free MoT) for just £100 really shouldn’t be on our roads. Whatever car they drive.

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