Canstar Blue reviews and compares car servicing chains UltraTune, Kmart Tyre & Auto and Midas based on customer service, value for money, quality of repairs, effectiveness of repairs, time taken and overall customer satisfaction in 2017.
Finding a new mechanic can be like pulling teeth out – it can be a painful process and you’re never at ease until your first service is completed. Mechanics get a reputation for overcharging for things like ‘nitrous in your tyres’, ‘blinker fluid’ and other easy expenses to add on to your final servicing bill. We’ve all heard the horror stories, and finding an honest, trustworthy and reasonably-priced mechanic can be a tough challenge. When you find a good one, you could be a customer for life. But when you need a new place to service your car, how do you know who to trust and where to go?
To get you on the road to a better servicing experience, Canstar Blue has surveyed over 1,000 drivers to gather their opinions on which car servicing chain is king. Chains have been rated on factors including their quality of repairs, effectiveness of repairs, customer service, time taken and value for money. In 2017, we can announce that UltraTune has once again taken out top spot in the ratings, earning five-star reviews across most research categories, including overall satisfaction. It’s the second year in a row that UltraTune has been rated highest.
No other chain in the survey achieved top marks overall, but Kmart Tyre & Auto Service did rate highly in regards to its effectiveness of repairs, time taken and value for money. It scored four stars overall, while Midas rated three stars.
Car servicing chains can be massively convenient, but there are many other reasons a servicing chain may be the most viable option the next time your car needs to go in for a service, or an unfortunate repair. Out of those surveyed, 70% trust car servicing companies to do an honest job. However, almost a third (31%) of survey respondents felt they had to pay for a repair their car didn’t need. 63% said they always go to the same servicing chain – but why is that?
Location is also a big factor in choosing a servicing chain, with 32% reporting they go back to the same one because it’s near home or work. After all, you don’t really want to be driving too far in something that needs servicing or repair, and having a chain near home or work makes it easy to pick up and drop off.
The cheapest price also doesn’t necessarily mean a happy experience. 36% reported their main reason for going to the chain they used last was because they felt the chain was honest. Nearly 40% said they looked up reviews before choosing a chain. But word of mouth is still important – nearly a fifth of respondents chose their servicing chain based on recommendations from family or friends.
This varies wildly from vehicle to vehicle and how many kilometres you’ve racked up, but our research indicates that the average expenditure on a car service in Australia is $435.93. This is evidently a lot of money to fork over, but keep in mind this figure also encompasses repairs.
Motorists in Victoria spend the most at a hair under $460, but states were mostly in the same ballpark.
But remember, this cost encompasses repairs. While you’re unlikely to need a transmission rebuild unless something goes terribly wrong (a $3,000ish fix), other bits and bobs can need repairing, and higher-mileage cars do tend to need more repairs done. A good rule of thumb is to always leave some room in the budget for anything that can go awry.
If you’ve looked at a used car before, you may have noticed some owners boast ‘dealership service its entire life’, so what’s the big deal? New cars come with a warranty, sometimes up to seven years, and this warranty period means you need to jump through a few hoops or your warranty is voided. Certain actions are no-brainers – don’t modify your car, don’t take anything off your car and so on. But a grey area is servicing. Manufacturers’ dealerships may encourage you to service your car with them, but the reality is that to satisfy warranty requirements, you probably don’t have to.
This has given rise to certain manufacturers trying other tactics to get you to stick around. One such tactic is the withholding of information from third-party service chains such as UltraTune that are necessary to repair vehicle faults. The ACCC found in August 2017 that service chains had been left in the dark by manufacturers about certain technical information on cars such as digital files, codes and diagnostics. What this meant is that consumers often did not have a choice but to go to the manufacturers’ dealership to fix certain faults and issues. This, as the ACCC said, left consumers with no choice but to go to a dealership, which limits competition.
The ACCC has recommended that dealerships be forthcoming with technical information and to share it freely with third party repairers. The end result would ultimately be better choice for consumers. Going to a third party repairer should not void your car’s warranty, and the ACCC has handed down recommendations to rectify this problem. Whether you go to a car dealership or a servicing chain is your choice.
It’s tempting to go for a chain known for just cheap prices, but customer service can go a long way as well. Our research identified the following drivers of customer satisfaction:
Evidently, motorists would rather mechanics take their time doing the job, as long as they do it properly. These results may also suggest people are willing to pay a bit more to get more ‘value’ and customer service rather than just hunt down a cheap price.
If you have a service coming up soon or you need a repair done to your vehicle, below we have reviewed the three major servicing chains in this year’s ratings, to help you decide which might be best for you and your budget.
UltraTune is your one stop shop for servicing and repairs, as well as tyres. UltraTune boasts 270 service centres nationally, meaning there’s never one too far from your doorstep. It does all manner of things including maintenance, tyres, logbook servicing, roadside assistance, brakes, suspension and air conditioning. Car servicing with UltraTune will not void your manufacturer’s warranty, and you have a choice with mechanics, with supplied parts being OEM-standard or better. The UltraTune website also boasts a store finder, which is handy in a time of need. The chain was rated five stars for overall satisfaction and every other category in 2017, except for time taken where it was rated four stars.
Like the popular department store it is associated with, Kmart Tyre & Auto is known for offering good ‘bang for buck’. It undertakes all manner of servicing and maintenance, as well as brake work and suspension components. As the name suggests, tyres are also available. Batteries can also be bought and fitted. With selected car services, free roadside assistance is also available. There are over 240 stores nationwide, and you can earn Flybuys points with every purchase. Kmart was rated four stars overall in this year’s review, but did get top marks when it comes to value for money, effectiveness of repairs and time taken.
Midas claims to be the ‘auto service experts’ and it undertakes a large range of servicing and repairs. Like other chains, Midas services brakes, suspension and tyres, and even takes care of your exhaust. It also does the humble logbook service, and you can book online to save the hassle of ringing up. Midas has been servicing customers since 1976 and has nearly 90 stores across Australia, with local ownership and management. You can also earn Velocity Points on purchases, making it easy to feel rewarded. Midas was rated three stars for overall satisfaction in 2017, but did rate four stars for customer service and value for money.
There are many car servicing chains littered across Australia, so by all means don’t just look for these three mentioned above. Other car servicing chains include:
No matter which car service centres are around your corner, it pays to do your research.
Canstar Blue commissioned Colmar Brunton to survey 3,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have had their car serviced by a servicing chain in the last 2 years – in this case 479 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then alphabetically. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.
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