Car maintenance advice

Car maintenance advice

Car maintenance plans vs service plans – understanding the difference

Most insurers offer policyholders the benefit of emergency road-side services such as tow-in assistance following a mechanical or electrical breakdown, jump start service, tyre-change assistance. But what if your breakdown is due to a mechanical part failure? What cover is there to help you then? Is there such a thing as car maintenance plan insurance?

Cover for mechanical breakdowns

If you are driving a new or relatively new model car you usually get a warranty with the vehicle and often either a service or car maintenance plan. It’s important to know the difference between a vehicle warranty, a motor plan and a car maintenance plan or service plan. This will help you budget for future car maintenance costs, plus help you figure out who to call when you get stuck. An expensive mechanical breakdown can leave you out of pocket and, should your vehicle be written off in an accident, you may end up without a car which you may still be paying for.      

It's important to know what kind of cover you have for your vehicle – and what exactly is covered in the contract. Mechanical or electrical breakdowns can prove costly – and they invariably occur when you can least afford it. Keeping your car properly maintained and serviced at the correct intervals can help to reduce the unnecessary cost of repairs and unscheduled maintenance. 

Here are the differences between the various plans:

Manufacturer’s warranty

  • Most vehicle manufacturers will provide a warranty on a new vehicle that should cover any manufacturing defects to the original components (mechanical or electrical) for a certain period after the purchase date of your vehicle.
  • Warranties may differ from one manufacturer to another but, on average, the warranty period is usually for three to five years, or for a specific kilometre distance.
  • Warranties usually cover repair costs to parts such as the gear box, water cooling system or head gasket and other large parts in the motor engine.

Service plans

  • A service plan will cover the cost of routine car services, usually annually or when a particular mileage is reached, including labour costs.
  • Items that are covered in the cost of a routine service include air filters, oil filters, fuel filters, lubricants such as oil, spark plugs and coolant.
  • Any other repairs required will be for the vehicle owner’s account. 

Car maintenance plans  

  • Car maintenance plans cover the cost of your regular service (including labour) as well as the cost of repairs to parts caused by wear and tear.
  • It provides cover for parts such as brake pads and break discs, shock absorbers, batteries, windscreen wipers, globes and fuses.
  • A car maintenance plan is more extensive than a service plan and is the more comprehensive option.
  • Therefore, if it’s only a minimal additional cost when purchasing a vehicle, it’s usually worth upgrading from a service plan to a car maintenance plan.

Motor plan

  • A motor plan combines the benefits of a service plan and car maintenance plan in one package, offering the vehicle owner more benefits. In some cases it may also include a warranty.
  • However, remember that a vehicle warranty, service or car maintenance plan will not cover you for any damage to your vehicle in the event of an accident. You still need to have an insurance policyto cover your vehicle against accidental loss or damage caused to your vehicle in the event of an accident. 

Important questions about car maintenance plans

Vehicle owners should ask themselves the following questions:

  • Do I have a warranty and/or maintenance/service plan for my vehicle?
  • What is covered by the plan – and what is not covered?
  • Which parts will be covered in the event of breakdown, and is the labour cost included?
  • How long are the plans valid for and will I be able to afford the maintenance thereafter?
  • What will the cost implication be when the plan has run its service period? 

Visit our car advice page for more useful tips. If you want advice specific to how you can stretch your budget, speak to your broker or contact us on 0860 444 444.

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