Fleet News

Fleets question cost and safety of extended servicing intervals

FLEET chiefs facing the threat of invalid warranties should their drivers fail to comply with the strict service requirements laid down by manufacturers have criticised the increasing trend among car makers to increase the intervals between vehicle check-ups. They claim they are merely marketing ploys leading to higher repairs bills that distort true wholelife costs and threaten driver safety.

The last few months have seen a spate of manufacturers extending or introducing longer servicing intervals on new vehicles including Ford, the PSA Peugeot Citroen Group, Daihatsu and Honda. One of the most extreme examples is Peugeot which for all cars registered after August 1 last year extended intervals from 9,000 to 20,000 miles on petrol models and from 6,000 to 10,000 on diesels.

Clearly such moves are meant to increase the appeal of a new vehicle to fleet managers, conscious of servicing costs and the impact of vehicle downtime. However, there is a dark side. Should a vehicle miss a service, fleets face the prospect of paying for work which would have been covered or having to pay for the warranty to be reinstated. Such moves have led fleets to place greater emphasis on 'policing' vehicle standards and adherence to servicing schedules.

Peter Mann, transport operations' manager of the Dixon Stores Group's 1,500-strong fleet, said: 'Extended servicing intervals means breakdowns will become increasingly common as drivers, trusting the manufacturers' sales pitch, keep driving until brought to a grinding halt. In some cases, instead of replacing brake pads we are having to replace the discs.' At Dun & Bradstreet, UK corporate fleet manager Gary Kent described extended servicing intervals as a 'marketing ploy' and said more frequent servicing could prevent serious problems.

Peugeot's fleet marketing manager Arnold Bailey said: 'There were concerns initially when we upped service intervals to a 20,000-mile maximum. We're working very closely with our customers to make them aware of the need for regular checks on things like oil levels every 1,500 miles and tyre tread depth.' Citroen has increased schedules for direct injection diesels and petrol cars up to 12,500 miles from 6,000 miles and 10,000 miles respectively, but said it had not received any complaints from its customers.

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