Has the service actually been done? - Robin
How can you tell if your car has actually had the service you have paid for?

My Passat has just started to tell me it is time for a service - there is an indicator on the tripometer. Thing is, I had it serviced 1,000 miles ago. Looks like the garage (VW main dealer) forgot to reset the service indicator. This makes me wonder what else they 'forgot' to do. My wife had a similar experience at a Nissan garage: car came back from the Main Dealer service with the windscreen washer bottle empty. Refilling this was part of the service. Stupid bloke at the garage tried to convince us that he could 'guarantee' that everything else had been done. He could not see our point that if something obvious like the washer bottle had been skimped than how could we be sure that the rest had been done.

So, short of watching the service being done, how can you be sure?
Re: Has the service actually been done? - Dan J
Mate of mine's dad got suspicious that his local Volvo dealer were not paying enough attention to his beloved 940 Estate. He scratched his initial on the spark plugs and also the oil filter, both of which were due to be replaced and both of which were not.

Being a very car proud bloke and proud of the fact his 150000 mile car had a full service record he went absolutely mental with them. Looked like they had simply changed the oil and nothing else and may well have done it previously. He had his solicitor threaten them with legal action and ended up settling for three free full services for the car.

The Manager of the service department at this garage claimed they were having trouble with this particular bloke and they were very sorry. Not a likely story as this particular guy wasn't working there when the car was taken previously and caused the suspicion in the first place.

Moral of the story and his advice to me afterwards, although it is a pain, always accompany your car to a service and watch them do everything they are supposed to be doing.
Re: Has the service actually been done? - rogerb
I hope that the free services were done a bit better than the previous one !!

I have found a local Ford retail outlet (as opposed to main dealer) - RGR in Cranfield, Beds, who have provided excellent service, with the 'back-up' of the Ford organisation, should the need arise.

My experience of 'small independents' has been 'variable', to put it politely!
Re: Has the service actually been done? - Dan J
Sorry, would just like to add to that that I don't want anyone thinking I am anti-garage or anything like that from recent posts! I know several garages who do a fantastic, concise job at the best prices possible but there are bad apples out there (and usually the ones charging a lot of money and/or franchise places) who spoil it and extract the michael.

Makes you worried about these EU laws which will end up tying people to these places and making life hard for the "little guy" as HJ has mentioned recently...
Re: Has the service actually been done? - Alwyn
I bought my 740 at a fleet auction with a full computer record of everything done to it. Hmmmm.

I asked a friend, a mobile mechanic, to do the next service and he found that the fuel filter fitted under the car had not been changed at all in 40,000 miles. He said it had underseal on it.

In God we trust, everyone else, we check out.
Re: Has the service actually been done? - Tony
Often service work in franchised dealers is carried out by young inexperienced lads who will overlook some things on the schedule.Then of course there are the deliberate scam merchants.I well remember a mechanic whose favorite scam was to use his 'Tappet Rag' as often as he could,charge for adjusting the tappets,but in reality just give the rocker cover a nice wipe over.Never failed apparently.
Re: Has the service actually been done? - John Slaughter

I once had the following conversation with a Ford dealer, back in the days of the 'first 1500' service, which included a valve clearance check.

'I can see from the engine paint on those rocker cover bolts that you haven't checked the valve clearances as you should have'

'Well what we do is listen and we can tell if they need adjusting'

'So how do you hear the ones that have tightened up then?'

'Well, if you insist, can you wait for a while we do the check?'

Subsequent dealing with this garage (the car, a Mk2 Escort, was a warranty nightmare) showed they were a complete bunch of wasters and could not do the simplest jobs properly, so I did the regular servicing myself.

Mind you more recent experiences with a new Ford and a different dealer don't give me much hope!


Re: Has the service actually been done? - Richard Hall
I bought an H reg Audi Coupe, 127K miles, supposedly with a full service history, but the dealer said he had lost the history... Still, the car was cheap. I gave it a full service and changed the fuel filter. When I got the old filter off (difficult job due to rusted bolts) I could see a date stamp on it. October 1990. If you want a job doing properly, do it yourself.
Re: Has the service actually been done? - Richard Blackburn
I think it was Regan who said 'trust, but verify'. In the case of servicing, I'd agree. Some years ago I used to go the to the main agents to get the Metro serviced - it was lowish milage at the time. After one service they failed to cure a minor 'creak' when going over speed bumps (I'd asked them to do so), so I took the car back. After another main service, I noticed it was still pulling left a little when driving home (it was before the service and I had asked them to fix it). I was too busy to turn the car round and drive straight back, but it made me suspicious, and on getting home I opened the bonnet. Yes, new air filter, things looked wiped over etc. Then I looked at the plugs. New, but one of them only screwed in finger tight! There were one or two other problems, too (charging for refilling washer bottle when it was full, but especially getting an enormous bill for renewing front disks, which didn't satisfactorily cure the problem I had). That was the last time. Now the Metro gets serviced by a small business, who give excellent service at a good price.

Re: Has the service actually been done? - me
halfords encourage you to sit and watch and have a coffee and read the newspaper...

makes sense to me
Re: Has the service actually been done? - Satchel n satchel
You shouldn't have to sit and watch them service it. That would be very dull and cost me more than the service.
Incidentally, had my Accord in for an optional 13,500 mile oil change.
The garage said it doesn't need it till 18k but I went for it anyway. So for £50 I got an oil and filter change a lovely dealer stamp in the book, a valet and a voucher for 3 more free valets.
The oil change somehow fixed the exhaust resonating at 2,500rpm !!
£50 well spent.
I like Honda dealers.
Re: Has the service actually been done? - colin
Didn't I read that Halfords, or the service portion thereof, has been taken over by the AA (aka British Gas)? Is that a good thing, we ask ourselves ...
Re: Has the service actually been done? - me
yep centrica owns many surprizing things nowadays

strange array of brands

strange mix of products

but hey you can still watch them service it...

take the point about "it'll cost more than the service", but hey i like a long read of the paper occasionally - you can watch the car at the same time...
Re: Has the service actually been done? - John
The same thing happened with my wife's Lupo. The service indicacator said "service me" just a month or so before it was one year old - seemed reasonable so it was serviced. Wodya know, one month later it said "service me" again. So she ignored it for a year. Drove me nuts every time I drove it.
Re: Has the service actually been done? - Alvin Booth
A friend of mine is a mechanic for a main dealer and incidentally an excellent one who takes his work very seriously.
He told me that the time alloted by the manufaturer for each scheduled task was so little that it wasn't sufficient to do the work properly.
He said that because of this some scheduled tasks were ignored because experience told them they were unnecessary.
For instance if the maintenance schedule instructed them to remove rear drums to inspect linings for which they were allowed X minutes they would give it a miss by virtue of low mileage.
Being a conscientous man he was unhappy with this but said often it simply wasn't possible to carry out every task specified.
He also said it was standard practise by service managers to always ask them to find work not on the schedule such as adjusting power steering drive belts simply to load the bill.
Re: Has the service actually been done? - David W
It's simple. If you have to think "are they really doing it" you shouldn't be going there.

Handing over £90 for a little service, then £275 for the biggy is serious money. If you have any doubts go elsewhere.

Marking components to test them only confirms your worse fears and makes you feel sick about the previous X years work at the same garage.

Re: Has the service actually been done? - Alvin Booth
David, The only servicing I personally have ever had is with a new car to maintain the warranty.
And yes I confess I have marked components at this time which is something I must admit I felt uneasy and guilty about at the time for some reason.
However the people who post on this site are generally knowledgable about motor vehicles, but this is not the case with the vast majority who put their cars in for servicing and imagine that the work they are paying for is being carried out. It must be one of the easiest scams to carry out as how many customers would know for instance if an oil change had been carried out or not. Most of the work done by a garage is invisible unless an experienced eye was looking for it. One would imagine the main dealer should be the peer group but unless they have an honest manager and a diligent foreman one would be advised to avoid them.
An independant garage such as one in my town is the answer where they have an old fella who owns and runs it with two mechanics working for him. He has a reputation for honesty and integrity and gives the type of service which used to be the norm some 50 years ago. By the time I get to the stage where I let someone else do my servicing I just hope there's still someone similar.
Re: Has the service actually been done? - Andrew Tarr
I think the answer to worries about proper 'servicing' is to do what one can oneself, and specify the other tasks in detail. This makes it clear that you know what is required and can tell whether it has been done. Most jobs on a standard service can be done at home - change oil, filter, lubricate hinges etc. I pay someone to change cambelt, brake fluid and coolant - my garage did all three on my 205 for £125 all in, which I consider good value, especially as I know he works in the pits at touring-car races.
Re: Has the service actually been done? - Stuart B
Andrew Tarr wrote:
> I think the answer to worries about proper 'servicing' is to
> do what one can oneself, and specify the other tasks in
> detail. This makes it clear that you know what is required
> and can tell whether it has been done. Most jobs on a
> standard service can be done at home - change oil, filter,
> lubricate hinges etc..........

Andrew, In essence I agree with this strategy, though personally I might add on change of brake fluid/coolant as potential DIY jobs.

What grieves me, and I suspect the others, is that in order to maintain a FSH, either in terms of stamps in the book and/or receipts you have to pay for all the other jobs, regardless of whether they are done or not. Then having paid out all that cash for work done (or not) and something goes wrong it can be a battle to get help when something goes wrong 1 month after the guarantee expiry.

SMMT in its campaign to keep the current franchise system bangs on about the money that manufacturers have put in to ensure that their concessionaires have the ability and know how to keep these incredibly complicated machines properly maintained.

They say no better system has emerged. I would say no better system has been allowed to emerge. Yet clearly in many cases that system is abused.

Judging by some of the posts on the site there is a considerable segment of the market who would actively opt for less complication in car systems.

All my negative comments are aimed at the bad boys in the system, not anyone who posts on this site I think.

Value my car