Capped-priced servicing: Have I just been ripped off?

Hyundai ix35

Hyundai ix35

Hi John,

I have a 2015 Hyundai ix35 which has just had its 30,000km capped-price service at a cost of $269. 

I was also charged by the dealer $50 extra for brake fluid to be flushed.

To me, this is NOT fixed-price servicing. Is this normal practice?

Thanks, Lenny

Hello Lenny,

This is reasonable if the brakes were a bit spongy or whatever, or if there was another good reason to do it, and it’s not a standard service item for that service. If it was unnecessary, they’re just ripping you off. Anything non-standard - they should call you. That would be the polite, reasonable thing to do. 

John Cadogan

Hi John,

Thank you for your reply. Yes, they did call me first. They said there was moisture showing in the fluid and it needed flushing. The brake pedal does feel better. Just thought it would be better to charge you more in the first place for the fixed-price so there are no surprise costs.



Here’s the thing (I am an engineer, so I have a different take on this): $50 is nothing. Water in the brake fluid is very dangerous. It lowers the boiling point. (Brake fluid has a high BP.) So you’re driving along on the freeway. You’ve just come down a steep hill. The brakes are hot. The B-Double in front of you does a panic stop. So you you. The brakes, which are already hot because you've been relying on them to control your speed, heat right up. The water in the fluid boils - turns to steam. Steam’s a gas; it’s compressible. The brake pedal goes straight to the floor. You hit the B-double in front. It kills you. The end.

This is a worst-case scenario.

In your case, the service department did you a huge favour by keeping you safe. You should thank them, rather than complain about $50 - which is, let’s face it, about half the cost of dinner at a mediocre restaurant. Not only did they need to supply the fluid but they also had to bleed it at all four corners with the vehicle occupying a hoist the whole time (two-man job…) Seems pretty cheap to me.

Standard servicing means the costs associated with completing the standard service items noted in the schedule for that particular service (oil + filter + general inspection, etc). Non-standard items (replacing the brake pads/rotors, flushing the brake fluid, replacing bushes, dampers, etc.) cannot be factored in because it’s unclear if/when they will be needed. All cars are operated differently, in different environments - some service things cannot be predicted.

I don’t think you are considering this in a balanced, reasonable way. The vehicle you own has 12-month service intervals. The cost of servicing it is nothing. If you go back 20 years you probably would have been getting it serviced every three months for about $300 a pop.

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