Dealer Servicing Upselling

Had our 1.5 yr old Nissan Pathfinder in for a 20,000km service at the dealer for its “Fixed Price” servicing and my wife received a call saying that our 2 front tyres are out of alignment and the tyres are dangerously worn on the outside and need to be replaced $$$ no alignment offered though and when queried told “oh its a common problem on this car” and also another part needing to be replaced not included, I work away and we are lucky enough to have another car if she needs it but will be getting an opinion from elswhere. This is not the first time I have experienced this at the big dealers they seem to have a lot of staff booking vehicles in and always seem to get a call advising something else needs to be done and how important it is but i think it is more likely they are sales people on a commission for anything they can up sell to wary consumers. Fixed price servicing may seem like a good deal but they are gouging elswhere to make up for it may be better to go to an independent that might charge a bit more but doesn’t need to gouge you ending up cheaper in the long run.
Will update when i get the tyres looked at.


The very reason I don’t use the dealer servicing, especially Nissan :slight_smile: My Tiida was only ever taken to the dealership once, they had the car for 20 minutes and charged me the price for a full service (whatever that was) and suggested a raft of other “stuff that needs to be completed”. Nope, back to my own mechanic straight away.

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Ridiculous! A friend had this happen to her. She asked for the work to be written down so she could ‘save and have it done later’ and then took her car to a ‘trusted’ mechanic that she knew and was told NONE of the work was needed and she had been mislead.

I have had the same problems with so called capped price servicing . I have purchased 5 vehicles in the last six years from one particular dealer . They were all new vehicles . I noticed when they started offering capped price servicing 1) The service manuals for the vehicles I purchased after capped price servicing no longer listed what was to be serviced at 10, 000 Km , 20, 000Km etc .It just said capped price servicing . 2) After the introduction of capped price servicing I too was notified that extras not covered needed to be done . Things like "deodorising " the air vents on the dash board $40 extra .Can of Glen 20 and a quick spray down them yourself would be alot cheaper :)) Your injectors on the motor needed cleaning $40-$80 extra . I think it’s an additive you can purchase at Supercheap , Repco , Auto Barn etc for $15 or so . I now always use my own mechanic for the vehicles now. I buy the oil , always fully synthetic , not semi synthetic that is usually used on capped servicing . I also purchase oil and air filters or any other parts as needed and he quotes a price . It is always cheaper than the equivalent dealer price and he comes to my home or business so I see my parts being used . No problems so far and I’m saving money and using quality components .

The rorts are very common, but some dealers are honest. We have a Renault (Waverley Renault, Victoria) with capped price servicing and over the first 2 1/2 years they have a) not tried to sell a single extra, and b) completed problems under warranty with no drama. Their service writers have been excellent in two-way communication including putting the customer in direct contact with the tech, and they thus resolved some difficult to find issues. Love the Renault Koleos, and the dealership.

@PhilT I should have added that there are dealers , probably the majority , who do not use these tactics. I was only relating my experience with one dealer Phil . I’m thinking of purchasing a Renault next so I thank you for putting me onto a proven dealer . Thank you

The service head who was a long time Renault junkie moved on earlier this year and they were looking for a replacement. The lady service writer can come across as terse but she is really very good at getting it done for you. My experience has been that this dealership cares about happy customers. I hope your experience will be as good as mine has been if you stop by.

I can identify with most of the above comments and prefer to use one trusted mechanic in a small business. He might be pulling the wool over my eyes (though I don’t think so) but at least I know it’s he and nobody else that has serviced my car and we can talk about the work done person to person. I think this approach is frowned upon in dealerships.
When you come to collect your car and are offered a beer over a chat at Christmas time you build up a relationship with a person!
My last routine (Subaru) car service cost me under $290.

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Thanks go to everyone who shared their experiences here, and please keep posting if you have had an issue.

In 2014, CHOICE found that NSW Fair Trading received 1486 complaints about vehicle repairs over a nine-month period. There are some tips for minimising issues with mechanics or car repair in the article above, or you can report issues like these to your state’s consumer protection agency.

As an individual in the industry for many years I advise the very reason that fixed price servicing is offered is because in general dealers with their high showroom overheads are not as competitive as others . In marketing terms , this is like a supermarket loss leader . As a result they are forced to compete on price with a low or indeed no margin.
Then, whenever possible they will try and make a profit on other items where they can. Unfortunately due to the legacy parts distribution system that goes through many hands the original parts are also more expensive than they should be . As an alternate non genuine parts at their competitors are often cheaper , however they are also often of lesser quality , however some parts are of equal quality . A good mechanic uses quality parts and knows the difference .

I fully agree. We had our Toyota Rav4 serviced at the Toyota dealer and even though it is under extended warranty; the service department always comes up with a few extras to be done and they are never covered by warranty. For example: oil leak on tappet cover; not covered because the tappet cover gasket is a " consumable". And insisted that all 4 tyres urgently need replacing. Took it to Bridgestone dealer: replaced 2 tyres and rotated all of them. 2 are still good for at least another year!

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I had my local Holden dealer call me and told me my tyres were SHOT. I knew damn well that the tyres were worn but still legal. I told them they would be right, thanks very much.

Dealers are not the only guilty parties. While having tyres fitted at a JAX Tyres they called to say my brake pads were beyond service and needed replacement along with the rotors, once again I declined the suggestion and drove on those brakes and rotors for another 20,000km before replacing them. The INDEPENDENT brake specialist said they were getting very low, but still outside replacement tolerance.

My brother was told by Subaru dealer his brakes and rotors were needing replacement similar to my situation. When he challenged them, they said they are not down to replacement limits but they recommended they be done.

My recommendation is get some basic mechanical training and be aware of what to look for. If you have a mechanically minded friend; ask them. Failing that most libraries have workshop manuals. Failing that you could get a second opinion from another dealer, but that could result in advice being an UP-SELL as well!

I agree with @bryanmurphy many dealers don’t make much on a new car sale, most profit is in the options and other up sell in the deal, insurances, finance and including genuine accessories, and supplemental body, paint, fabric treatments.

Also many dealers live and die by the work turnover of the service department.

I have had a similar experience of
attempted gouging with our local Subaru Dealer. I booked it in for a
scheduled service but also I wanted the aircon recharged. Upon
collecting te car I was told the airco compressor needed a replacing
for about $1500, and that there was a leaking head gasket, and while
that were fixing this they would get both heads serviced to cost
about $5500. Funnily enough as I was getting ready to leave the next
customer was being told the same thing about his “leaking head
gasket”. Well I booked the car into an independent service centre
and they examined the head gaskets and assured me they were fine,
and recharged the aircon for $300. The was over 6 month’s ago and
every thing is still working fine. Lucky for me I am an engineer so
tend to look into things like this rather than take them at face
value. This sound like a good topic for a Choice survey.

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This is not about servicing but about predatory dealing. My 80 year old mother had to take her car to Toyota as part of a recall to get an air bag fixed. They offered her a ‘deal’ to check the brakes and a few other things for $10 so she agreed. They then told her that one front shock absorber was faulty and that it would cost $720 to replace it but they could squeeze it in and do it then. She declined and when I checked it there was nothing wrong with any of the shock absorbers.

Capped price servicing is not what it used to be. ‘Upselling’ is getting built-in, and not to be declined.

My ‘capped’ price service would be $349 this year but it does not include a mandatory $52 air filter or $66 pollen filter. The service comes with a year of roadside assist, but. They are at least up front about it and don’t wait until they present the bill. (All less at an independent, but no roadside assist.)

Watch for the tricks new car owners. You probably will not hear this from the sales people, only the service people.

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