What Happens if You Don't Get Your Car Serviced?
If there's an easier way to void your factory warranty, I haven't found it - and yet an increasing number of people seem to think servicing is optional
Every now and then someone makes a new and daring attempt to scale the daunting north face of Mt Ignoramus.
Invariably they achieve new, dizzying heights before the mountain shrugs them off, and they plunge deep into a crevasse, from which a big hit on the credit card is the only hope of escape.
This predicament comes from a woman I will not name - because I have no burning desire to embarrass her on top of the problem she already has.
But - just for kicks, let's call her 'Melanie' - which, if you say it out loud, seems oddly appropriate...
"Question about the quality of modern engines: I have a 17mth old vehicle. We serviced at one year, 35,000km - we thought it was a one year interval = didn't think it had to be at 15,000 kms. Service was fine. Now 5mths into the service and the engine has siezed. Is that right?" - Melanie
No - it’s not - I recommend spell-checker for this. ‘I’ before ‘e’ except weighing, surveilling or reimbursing either a seized caffeinated deity - or a heinous seismic poltergeist conceirge on a heifer whose neighbour reignited eight feisty foreign sovereign atheist reindeer after a heist. That’s weird...
"Is it possible for an engine to completely pack up after only 17mths? Are they not built like they used to be? Would love your advice because at this stage we're up for a new engine , it's now not covered under warranty which will essentially cost us $5-$10K." - Melanie
Unbelievable - but perhaps I should not be surprised...
SERVICING: TOO EXPENSIVE?
Certainly many new car dealerships rely on their parts, servicing and repairs business to keep the boat afloat. Some brands have decent capped-price servicing arrangements - but many dealerships still charge way over the odds (ie - over a fair price) for standard service items.
According to Choice >> many people believe they need to get their car serviced by the dealer to preserve the factory warranty. That's simply not true.
Thankfully, there are alternatives that save you money and don't void your warranty. According to the ACCC, if you use a qualified person (ie - a mechanic) to service the vehicle, if you get the services done on time, and if you ensure all the tasks specified for that particular service get done, your factory warranty will be preserved. More on this >>
You don't even have to use genuine parts - the parts you do use just need to be fit for purpose. (This means high quality aftermarket parts are completely fine - another potential saving right there.)
You can get an online quote to service any car at Sparesbox. The company has a mobile mechanic service that comes to you (super convenient) and might save you considerably over the cost of servicing at the dealer.
Get a warranty-compliant Sparesbox mobile service quote now >>
Anyone can whip down to Bunnings (which is like Home Depot, if you’re not from around here) and procure a nine-inch angle grinder - one of my favourite implements for purifying the gene pool. So effective.
Then, should you choose to operate it in the privacy of your own domicile, nude, at 2am, on a ladder after consuming a bottle of Jack Daniels, perhaps wearing a car battery attached to your reproductive organs via a set of jumper cables, then I suppose nobody is going to stop you.
(But, frankly, as a professional, I should learn you in pre-emptive advancement that any one of those operational decisions is a mistake.)
The point is: there are minimum responsibilities that come with just about everything. There’s an operational baseline that is assumed. And there are consequences if you fail to heed these. Even if only because you are ignorant of them.
I understand that this is an unpleasant position to be in. I get that. Blown engine. Definitely, not fun. I’ve had fun. That’s not it.
IGNORANCE: NOT BLISS
This situation is of course not a one-off. It’s collective ignorance - not the first time I’ve had someone try to deflect accountability after letting the service lapse for approximately infinity longer than they should have.
Not servicing a car for 35,000 kilometres is nuts. That’s almost one lap of the planet. It’s utterly negligent and completely indefensible to feign ignorance in the face of the repair bill you can’t jump over.
What I can’t defend here is the tactic in play: Rather than take responsibility, let’s try to brush it off on the carmaker. Servicing requirements are very clearly spelled out in the owner’s manual. Even a politician would get it.
The clear protocol is: servicing on the basis of time or distance - whichever occurs first. The intervals specified are the maximum possible operational times and distances between services. Pretty simple, huh?
SERVICING IS REALLY INSURANCE
12 months or 15,000 kilometres is a generous service interval. 35,000 kilometres is a cruel and unusual punishment. There is no doubt in my mind - legally and morally - that there will be no wriggle room for having this fixed under consumer law, no grounds for legal action, and almost certainly no altruistic offering by the carmaker to pick up the pieces.
This has nothing to do with engine build quality. A properly maintained engine from any leading carmaker will last 200,000km, maybe more, depending on usage. This is not a quality problem - this is a ‘you subjected it to enhanced interrogation at Abu Ghraib and it died’ problem.
One of the more perverse feedback consequences of the incredible advances in automotive reliability over the past 40 years is the rise of a mechanically de-coupled segment of the population. I’m talking about people who own a car, but believe maintenance is optional.
I’m tipping the car at the epicentre of this shitstorm has not had the oil or coolant levels checked in 35,000 kilometres. Ditto the tyre pressures. The only reason these Muppets bother filling up with fuel is that they know the car’s going to be furniture if they don’t.
If these people just checked the oil, water, and air - every second time they filled up with fuel, reliability would jump through the roof.
And there’s an elephant in the room: just about every car has a service indicator. A message on the dash says: ‘oi, dickhead, get me serviced - it’s due’. When yours has been alight for the last 20,000 kilometres, that sound you hear is you loading the chambers and pulling the trigger. Russian roulette - let’s play. Yes!
There’s underlying science here: Pesky little rule called the second law of thermodynamics. All about a thing called entropy. It’s a scientific fact, a physical property like length or weight. It’s a measure of inherent spatial and energetic homogeneity. Randomness. And you’re thinking: ‘So what?’
Take a look at a bomby old shitheap one day, a real dung box. Imagine the day it rolled off the production line. Not a single defect, all shiny, no rust, all systems online, even new car smell. What happened? The answer is: Time happened. Entropy increases with time.
Entropy is why the house needs painting. It’s why steel rusts, why food spoils. Everything gets messy, untended. On a personal level, entropy is why we all get old and die. Cancer is - literally - entropy at work on your DNA. I’m not making this up.
On the most macro level, entropy is a virus infects the universe. It’s actually entropy that imprints the arrow of time on the universe (thanks very much, Stephen Hawking). The ultimate conclusion being a totally homogenised universe with no free energy. They actually call this process the heat death of the universe >>
And this, of course, is why there can be no God. A creator would not have botched this design so badly. So incredibly inelegantly. It’s all just an accident. Anyway - back on earth - entropy is why you cannot escape the obligation to service your car. A very expensive lesson for some, I think.
Don’t forget: get your damn car serviced. On time. If you know what’s good for you.