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Agent Maintenance


cefiroA33
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Dear Fellows,

I have a bit of a confusion over this whole agent maintenance thing and hope you would share your wisdom to sort it out.

I have been going to the agents for periodic servicing of my car and it had failed to convince me that they have the most optimum solutions for the faults that are identified in the service and in fact for the day to day running repairs as well.

Few instances of such bitter experiences are as follows:

1). Once I had a problem with Auto transmission and took the car to the agents as I wasn't a member of Autolanka those days and had to depend on agent's specialized service. The fault was that it took sometime for the car to move in the D on cold starts. The only thing the agents did when I took the car there was waited for something like 6 hours until engine cools down and start the car. and there simple answer was I have to replace the gearbox.

2). Then sometimes later there was a coolant leak from the radiator top tank. it was found out during the service and their simple answer was that I have to replace the radiator.

3). Again during another service it was found out that lower arm bush was damaged and there remedy was to replace the lower arm

4). The next instance was that there was a oil leak from the steering rack and there solution is to replace the complete steering rack.

5). The latest being that during the last service there was a coolant leak in the coolant line that runs from the radiator to the gear box (thats what they said) and again the solution suggested by them is to replace the radiator.

Further, I try my best to rectify almost all the defects that are highlighted during the service inspection but at times some of them are left without being rectified until the next service. For my surprise they don't identify those leftovers as a fault in the next service which should mean that they have rectified by themselves.

So my question for you guys is this. When everyone boast about agent maintenance, does this really mean replacing the whole unit for a small defect in a part of that? Isn't there anything called repairing the damage part of the unit in general vehicle maintenance like for lower arm bush you do some lathe work and replace the bush only, or the radiator coolant line you do some welding and get the leaks fixed? or the radiator top tank leak just replace the top tank with a new one?

Are these remedies that most of our mechanics does at local garages (which cost about 1/10 of the cost of the agent's proposal) are unorthodox solutions that would lower the lifetime of the vehicle or something? Why does agents always propose the extreme solutions?

And do they give enough attention to our vehicle? Do you guys think that the attention given by the agent during the service is the best I could get?

Now I am thinking of getting rid of this agent maintenance thing this year and hope you would be able to either convince me or discourage me with my decision.

I don't mind about the cost factor as long as it is worth spending. But I don't believe in wasting not only the money but also the spare parts :sad-smiley-066: .

Edited by cefiroA33
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The sri lankan car market thrives on information asymmetry. The phrase 'agent maintained' is a marketing catchphrase used to jackup the price of a car by a few hundred thousand. Nothing more.

Those who really know their cars, know where to take them. One would prefer Aruna or Lalith anytime over Car Mart for Peugeots. Indika is the preferred choice for any Fiat or Alfa. The joint in Ethulkotte for KIAs... The list just goes on...

But it should be noted that not all agents can be judged by the same stick. I have no personal experience but I have heard that the Suzuki agent and Mitsubishi agent do good jobs, despite being expensive.

The key is to know your vehicle. Know who can manage it then take it to that person (agent or anyone else).

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Thanks crosswind. But my situation is being an amateur I am still in the process of getting to know the car and need guidance on deciding the best solution for issues that I face in day to day running. It was hard during initially but gradually I have been getting used to rely on my instinct over the maintenance work.

Expensiveness in the sense of their overheads is not an issue for me. But what I am worried about is instances like asking you to replace your whole radiator for a leak in a coolant line. the cost of a Nissan radiator (used one) is around 75,000 from the agent and I got that line fixed from a local mechanic for Rs. 990. This is just one instance and I may be exaggerating. be it for all other circumstances I have described.

I think it should be the agents that we should be able to put our faith on if we do not have any familiar mechanic that has been doing repairs to my vehicles over a long period of time. So that's why i wanted to know whether its something wrong with the agents or the local mechanics that they (the agents) do not propose the simple remedies suggested by local mechanics for several issues.

In that case Autolanka has been a very reliable source for amateurs and I myself had got to meet few mechanics suggested by the forum members that I find beneficial.

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To be honest, your 990 rupee mechanic might have done a patch up job. You never know until you see the actual car. But it won't cost you 75,000 to get a decent brand new or second hand radiator for a japanese car.

There are certain things (like T-belt change) for which you may want to take your car to an agent or a specialist. There are certain other things (like A/C, radiator) where you don't have to. You just need to be selective and make informed decisions. That's why you need to post in autolanka forum when you notice problems :)

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I think you have come accross a common issue in modern automobiles.

The agents carry out service and repairs in line with manufacturer instructions. They import parts directly from the manufacturer or their distributors and their techicians are trained by the manufacturer. Their diagnostic equipment is also supplied by the manufacturer.

And all of the remedies the agents have suggested to your issues is in line with manufacturer specifications. Sadly that is what they are supposed to do.

If the radiator top tank is leaking, the manufacturer recommendation is to change the radiator. If suspension bushes are busted the manufacturer recommendation would be to change the suspension arms and the list goes on. This is because the manufacturer does not provide an option to replacing the top tank or changing just the suspension bushes. They are not available as separate parts at all.

But thankfully, other spare parts manufacturers have reliased this void in the market and supply parts like suspension bushes for more economical repairs. And our skilled technicians have also perfected repairs for various components particularly automatic gear boxes, which in most parts of the world requires a replacement of the gear box as well. We are fortunate to have these guys amongst us to keep the costs of owning motor vehicles low.

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Hey Don, that is exactly what I wanted to know. So it is basically that our mechanics have gone beyond the point that the manufacturers had left provisions. and as crosswind has mentioned it could very well be a patch up as well. Hmmm but my coolant line, I am not sure whether that line comes with the radiator itself (of course top tank is justifiable that).

And crosswind that is what I am exactly doing after I get the membership of Autolanka. Even the slightest of the problem I ask you guys until I am pretty confident that I can handle it myself.

Anyways thanks guys!!!

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Those who really know their cars, know where to take them. One would prefer Aruna or Lalith anytime over Car Mart for Peugeots. Indika is the preferred choice for any Fiat or Alfa. The joint in Ethulkotte for KIAs... The list just goes on...

Is this place good for hyundais too if so can you pm me the details.

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Simplest reason is that it's not the agent's or manufactur's best interest is not to save YOU money. It's better for them to ask you to put in a new part and YOU foot the bill, than they try to cut corners/cost and get a bad reputation for a half-ass job. Heck, if they could they'll ask you to throw away the car and buy a new one :P

PS: the only thing the agent has the upper hand is when it come to electronic diagnostics. Not all repair shops have such brand/model specific diagnostics equipment.

Edited by Watchman
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One more factor to consider is the warranty. You will void the warranty if you go outside the agents. So until such time the warranty (or the extended warranty) runs out, you will have to stick to the agent. After that point I think it's a better idea to take the car to a reputed specialist of your brand like Crosswind suggested.

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You need to strike a balance between going for agent's maintenance and so called unorthodox solutions. To do this as Crosswind says you must know your vehicle. For example if you can replace the lower arm bush without replacing the whole arm there is no reason why you shouldn't. After all it is not going to reduce the life of your vehicle for a thing like lower arm bushes that need to be replaced once in a while anyway particularly because of the road conditions. But if you have a problem with your gear box then it may be a different story.

On the other hand your cannot complain about an agent who always wants to replace whole units. Being the agent they have certain standard practices that their technicians are supposed to follow. An agent cannot allow their technicians to improvise procedures and methods and do things outside the scope of what is contained in the repair manuals.

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Hey watchman hows it been? So simply you are telling that if its not that I am breaking my piggy bank to carry out the maintenance on my car I can be assured that the agents wont do a half ass job on my car. Well that seems to be a quite relief.

So now that we have come to a point that agents always follow the repair manuals, as rumesh and the clan said and as suggested by watchman that they won't do a "half-ass job" I am sure that it will definitely be that if I have the privilege to get all my maintenance done through agent rest assured that my car will be just like the manufacturers wants it to be even after 10-15 years of running? I hope I am not mistaken with what you guys have told.

I also think that repairs like replacing boots, mounts etc would not need much of specialization and can be easily done through any mechanic provided that they identify the problem correctly.

Even during my gearbox issue i took the car to a mechanic and what he said was that "sir gear box eka maru karanna wei ape garage eketh tiyenawa gear box ekak sir car eka genella dannako api kohoma hari hadala gamu" So I was worried that they will do a Jill mart with two gear boxes and patch up the issue, so that later when the problem comes again he will blame on some other part or even during that same repair he will keep provision to point out a defect of another part which he will simply bring up the next time I go there again with the same issue. That's why I took the vehicle to agents and afterwards I was quite distressed even though the gearbox replacement worked 100% well, that each time I tell the problem to a mechanic and ask him of his cost to remedy it, its like 1/5 of the cost i had to borne.

But well its not a "half-ass job" i suppose.

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Those who really know their cars, know where to take them. One would prefer Aruna or Lalith anytime over Car Mart for Peugeots. Indika is the preferred choice for any Fiat or Alfa. The joint in Ethulkotte for KIAs... The list just goes on...

How about Mitsubishi?

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So now that we have come to a point that agents always follow the repair manuals, as rumesh and the clan said and as suggested by watchman that they won't do a "half-ass job" I am sure that it will definitely be that if I have the privilege to get all my maintenance done through agent rest assured that my car will be just like the manufacturers wants it to be even after 10-15 years of running? I hope I am not mistaken with what you guys have told.

At least that's what they are supposed to do. There are advantages and disadvantages of being an agent. One advantage is that the agents gets all the technical brochures and support from the manufacturer but the disadvantage is that the agent is supposed to follow the procedures in the brochures (as told to the techs during training) leaving little room for free thinking. The flow charts given in repair manuals do not always points to the problem for they are based on the most likely scenarios. So even if they follow the manuals to the letter sometimes they may not home in on the fault. Now that's where the experience and more importantly the talent of the technicians come in handy. But the problem is for the agent to retain such people in the long run for they find more lucrative business outside. This is why you find some of the most talented techs work freelance. This situation leaves the agent with a team of techs with an inexperienced majority. I am not trying to confuse you here, but these are the hard realities when it comes to a choice between the maintenance by the agent and that by an outsider. So even if you decide the agent to maintain your vehicle all the time, you cannot expect it to be what manufacturer wants it to be after 10 years of running. Things are not that perfect in a practical world! After all what matters more is if the vehicle is maintained to what YOU expect it to be after 10 years of running.

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Hi thanks rumesh I understand your point and thanks all I am clear with what you guys trying to point out.

Now I want to take this to another height.

Well I am the second owner of the car I am currently using (Nissan Cefiro A33). So the first owner had used the car from 2003- 2011. and he had not done any agent maintenance after its warranty period. I have been taking the car to the agents for repairs since 2011 end and its been two years now. What I want to know is, taking the car back to the agents for maintenance after a break of two three years is gonna be effective? I am asking this because the first owner might have got the repairs done through a local mechanic after its warranty period and it could be unorthodox repairs (but not visible at first glance and so far agents have not warned me as well) so taking the car back to the agents after a elapse of such period could either mean that its no use at all or that the car will gradually be restored as per manufacturers manuals.

What do you guys think? I am sorry fellows I just felt for a moment that what I am doing is not effective at all.

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Far too much words to read...

Ok, for a Cefiro A33, which is not a rocket ship. I suggest you find a good mechanic. Nissan parts are plentiful in Sri Lanka and getting any issue in a Cefiro sorted can be managed all but the dumbest mechanics around in SL. If you tell me where you live and what exactly is the problem with your car currently, I will tell you the names of one or two good mechanics.

Agents are there to recover their very high capital and to safeguard the brand name, hence they will rip you a new bung hole every time you go there for repairs/Maintenance. etc. This applies to premium to normal brands.

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Hi VVTi thanks for reading my post.

Anyways no issues so far as I repaired the leak of the coolant line to gearbox. But will definitely post whenever I come across a problem to get advice from you guys. And I live in Moratuwa area.

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Well watchman basically it was not the cost factor that I wanted to discuss with some mechanical experts. We all know that agent maintenance will cost you more than what your local mechanic charge. I was expecting more of a justification for that extra amount we pay for what we get. Especially in my case for a second hand car. I hope you got the point.

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Well watchman basically it was not the cost factor that I wanted to discuss with some mechanical experts. We all know that agent maintenance will cost you more than what your local mechanic charge. I was expecting more of a justification for that extra amount we pay for what we get. Especially in my case for a second hand car. I hope you got the point.

Well, like any large business the agent too has a LOT of overheads starting from the receptionist, air conditioned waiting room, HR department, garage foreman, advertising/marketing, foreign training for thier mechanics, cost of a sizable plot of land and hig-tech building etc. These are things that your neighbourhood garage doesnt have. All these costs are recovered by factoring it into your repair and parts. Not to mention having to fulfil the owner/stakeholders expectation of greater profits. It's not unreasonable when running a large business.

Your question on "if its justifiable", then the answer is very subjective. And theoretically replacing the broken part with a new one IS the better option, but it's not always the cheapest. Example your steering rack; you had a leaking oil seal. The cheaper option is to replace that ONE oil seal that leak and run it till another oil seal starts leaking. But, if you had replaced ALL the seals or the entire rack, your rack would be trouble fee for much longer. So which is better? and which is cheaper?

In my personal opinion I feel that in a market like sri lanka, where labour is often cheaper than parts, it's more economical to try fix just the component that's broken rather than try to minimize labour by doing fewer "all in one go" repairs.

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It's just as stupid as "lady driven" and "doctor owned".

Ado yours is a Doctor Owned car. noh??? Imagine one day when you sell it, the hype it will create... you will be able to cut the hype in to small blocks and sell them by the kilo too... LOL

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Well there is one thing though. If the agents have done the servicing of the car you know only genuine filters, recommended grade of oil have gone into the car and things like the fuel filter, spark plugs, cabin filter etc have been changed on time.

Its sad to say but even the trusted service station I go to sometimes ignores my instructions and have used whatever filter they have available (I try to stick to OEM or Vic) and used a different grade of oil from the one I mentioned. Now these wasn't a big deal plus I noticed them and dependent on the situation corrected them, but a person not paying as much attention would never notice.

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