Sunday, May 28, 2023

Stick to the road with Hennie

By Alwyn Viljoen

Proudly sponsored by Toyota

Service plans are a sound investment

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

“You remember the Boy Scout guy is coming at two?” asked Mbali as I ended another fruitless call to find bluetongue vaccine.

“You mean the boy who is scouting you is coming at two,” I retorted and grinned as Mbali blushed. Despite being the farm’s no-nonsense administrative manager and a real Zulu princess, she was as shy as any young person when it came to the reps who have been visiting the farm in droves since her appointment.

Lees dit in Afrikaans.

“He is no boy, but a church deacon and a manager at Capitec and a Boy Scout counsellor. He asked our help to prepare for a farm mechanics merit badge. Apparently, it is a tough exam. He’ll be asking you about preventative maintenance.”

“Good, I’ll let him drain the diesel filters. Why don’t you bring your car into the barn and we can have him swop over the tyres while he is at it?”

“Because I just used the Toyota app to book a service for tomorrow. And it comes with a year’s warranty, unlike anything done in our workshop,” said Mbali.

Protect your resale value

“I still say you could have saved on that expensive service plan and just booked the farm mechanic to fix your car with generic parts, which are a lot cheaper,” I said.

“Not so,” said Mbali. “If you check the prices, you’d see our diesel mechanic charges more per hour than Toyota’s petrol mechanics and besides, your generic parts won’t maintain my warranty.”

“Don’t you have a maintenance plan to help with that?”

“I do, but the maintenance plan covers replacement parts damaged by normal wear and tear, like brake pads and wipers and the clutch. The service plan covers filters and lubricants and even a battery for the remote key. If you check the prices of lithium batteries, you’ll see I’ve saved a few rand right there.

“Surely all this costs more than the farm workshop would?” I asked.

“Both plans amount to a few hundred a month, spread over four years, which costs I combined in one plan included in the vehicle finance contract. That way I’ve got the workshop tied into a capped price no matter what the market does, and I protect my resale price. That’s the main aim here – to protect the resale value.”

I had to admit Mbali was right, but only because the inflation and supply chain constraints forced on the world by two years of irrational lockdowns were still spiking all prices. In a normal year, generic auto parts would cost at least 60% less than the same parts branded and resold as original equipment. This is why we buy used vehicles and then service everything in the farm workshop.

Top-tier service plan

“By adding those plans to the price of your car, you are paying higher interest to the bank and a bigger commission to the dealer, which may be why Mr Capitec likes you. And you may have to ask him for a loan to extend those plans. Isn’t your car on Toyota’s six-service limit?” I asked.

“I am getting Toyota’s four-year or 60 000km extended service plan. It’s a few hundred a month, but will add thousands to the price when I sell the car,” she said.

“Surely there’s a catch?”

“None. As Toyota states: I will pay tomorrow’s costs at today’s rate for the duration of the four-year contract and the plan will increase the value of my car when I sell it.”

“It sounds like you have all the answers,” I said. “So just tell that Boy Scout counsellor of yours he better bring lots of chrysanthemums when he comes a courting.

“With no bluetongue vaccines to be found and the price of insecticides also sky high, we can dry the petals to make our own insect repellent for the feedlots, just like my gogo used to do after heavy rains.”