Winterize, economize

12.11.2009 | Oleksiy Muzhchyna, special for

The financial crisis in Ukraine forced car dealership service stations to lower their prices almost to the level of small private stations

PH: shutterstock

The first serious snowfall and frost can be an unpleasant surprise for most car owners. In these first days, the level of car accidents registered by the traffic police is at its peak. took to the streets to learn how car owners should properly winterize their vehicles in order to avoid problems

Marek Gavlik,
General Director of GoodYear in Ukraine

Driving an non-winterized car in the winter could create a dangerous situation on the road. For example, in Germany most drivers change tires in September regardless of the weather.
As for car maintenance stations, car owners are better off overpaying a bit to have their vehicle diagnosed and the tires changed at an official dealer maintenance station as it provides a warranty for its service. The quality is much higher than that offered at private car repair stations. Speaking about buying and fitting second-hand tires, I believe it is better to buy even the worst new tires than brand-name but used tires. Second-hand tires are imported to Ukraine from Western Europe. The question arises: why do Europeans not want to drive on such tires? It is highly probably that they no longer comply with the proper level of quality. After all, a buyer does not know how the tires were used, how and where they were stored. Were they stored with tires that emit harmful substances? In what conditions they were transported and delivered to our country. All these and other factors affect the performance of tires on roads.

Basic recommendations
Most motorists are convinced that changing tires and oil before the winter sets in is enough to protect their vehicles. They are gravely mistaken. Saving time and money on winterizing your vehicle is not recommended.
Besides changing tires, you would be well advised to put your cars systems through a computerized diagnostic check and have the windshield washer fluid changed so the old fluid does not freeze and burst the tubes.
Before winter sets in you should also check the level of brake fluid, do an oil change and replace the spark plugs to avoid any problems starting your vehicle in freezing temperatures.
Practically all car washes offer a wax polish to protect the body paint of your vehicle from being scratched by sand or small stones in winter. You should also lubricate your cars door locks so they dont freeze in below-zero temperatures.
Such basic services cost UAH 400500 at dealer service stations. A private station will charge UAH 250-300, which is twice the price for the same work. So, whats the better option?

Cheap fish, sour soup
Getting your car serviced at a private station seems to be more economical. Our services are two-three times lower than dealer maintenance stations, though the quality is the same. Given the financial problems today people try to save money anywhere they can, including on car maintenance, says Andriy Zerkalov, an employee of a Kyiv car repair shop.
You can save from UAH 100 to UAH 200 on tire fitting alone, but many private entrepreneurs do not give a guarantee of the work done. The greystations do not have the proper instruments, let alone the diagnostic equipment or qualified specialists, says Elya Fedorey, Head of Corporate Communications of the AIS group of companies.
President of Honda Ukraine Hideto Yamasaki points to the unreliability of services at unofficial car stations and installation of non-original parts. They could lead to repair costs that will end up being much higher than the cost of an official dealers service, says Yamasaki. For example, tires can be replaced in specialized workshops, but some unexpected nuances could arise such as a broken wheel stud. If tire fitting is done at an official station, it will be replaced on warranty. But if you have similar work done at a private repair station you will be charged for it seeing as on many models studs are supplied as one unit with the hub of a wheel. In the end, tire fitting could cost you a fortune.
In search of a discount
Compared to the last year, the demand for repair work at auto service stations and for spare parts has dropped considerably this year, while competition for customers at car maintenance stations has become stiffer. The fact that there are practically no line-ups of cars for maintenance has forced repair station owners to lower their prices by 15-20% on average. In order to attract customers most dealers offer a number of discounts and special offers (see table below). The recession has had a major impact on the car sales and maintenance markets. Today, customers order only the most necessary works on their cars. The volume of service of cars at dealer service stations and the volume of sales of spare parts has fallen by 30%, says Oleksandr Timofeyev, General Director of AWT Bavaria.
Car repair stations offer good discounts mainly for changing tires to the winter regime, oil and oil filter changes and replacement of spark plugs and brake shoes. With a bit of luck you can even find a service center that will give you a good discount on diagnostics of the gears and a wheel alignment.
For example, Winner Automotive offers its clients comprehensive winterization at half price. Mitsubishis dealer NIKOUkraine offers tire fitting for UAH 250. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Suzuki, its official dealer AutoInternational offers its clients auto winterization for only UAH 105.
Many service centers offer free fitting and balancing of wheels to clients that buy tires at the center. Car service centers of the AIS group of companies offer their clients free-of-charge storage of summer tires on condition that the client buys winter tires or gets tires fitted at their center. Also, Eurocar and Honda Ukraine offer a 1020% discount on the purchase of original spare parts.

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