When you are buying a car, assuming it isn’t a private sale, do you consider the service department? I have purchased a couple cars in the last five years and one thing I have become aware of, that I should have thought about when I bought them, is the service department.
Sure, buying a car is “fun” as you shop for the look, style, options, etc. that you want. You get to decide on the color and all that jazz. They promise oil changes for life and tire warranties and other “incentives” to get you to buy the car. But what they don’t sell you on is their service department.
After sitting in two different service departments and going through the trouble of trying to schedule said service, I am going to offer some tips you may want to consider when buying a car from a dealership.
- Check the hours that the service department actually works. If they don’t work or have weekend appointments, you are in big trouble! Why? Because that means they only work during the hours you likely work, meaning you are going to likely have to take time off to make service appointments happen (whether it is just for dropping the car off or to pick it up afterwards). The other thing about only weekdays is that there are a limited number of service appointments. As such, you will be competing against other people to try to schedule for those appointments. Sure, you would have to do that on a Saturday too but if you have a little forethought in your scheduling you can easily get it done.
- Is it easy to schedule an appointment? Do they have an ample number of service advisors or are you going to sit on hold on the phone for seemingly endless hours? Can you schedule online or on an app? Again, it is important to know because it takes your time and it is valuable.
- Do they have a shuttle service? Better yet, do they have a considerable number of service loaners? Shuttles are great, but relying on someone else transporting you is a pain in the rear. Loaners are better because then you can go about your day as usual and not have to worry about trying to schedule things around the service appointment.
- Department amenities. If you have to sit and wait at the dealership, what amenities do they have? Does it look and feel comfortable or does it look like someone threw some furniture together? Does it have good wi-fi? Do they have complimentary food and basic drinks (coffee, soda, water)? All of these aren’t really that big of a deal, but if you have to spend time there you should be able to do so without feeling like there isn’t a way for you to relax a little.
I am currently sitting in a service waiting room for a 60K mile service. It’s a longer service, so I had to take the day off to make this appointment happen. It took three phone calls to finally connect with someone to schedule it. There is a popcorn machine that isn’t on and hasn’t been run. There are two vending machines, both with sighs that say they are out of order. There is coffee, but it’s terrible. The chairs and couches are showing signs of being worn out. There is wi-fi, so I can type this blog entry.
All this to say, don’t just get caught up in the shiny new car. Ask questions. Check out the service area because it should be part of your buying decision.
Anything else you would add from your buying and ownership experience?