Service and maintenance is that one big question that looms over our heads when making a car buying decision. And while our shiny new automobile is in its warranty or free service period, we end up taking it to the manufacturers’ service centre without fail. Now, while some of us continue this practice well into our car’s life span, there are others who will get their basic servicing and maintenance needs addressed at the local garage down the road. Let’s face it, it’s more convenient, it costs way less and it usually takes a lot less time to get any work done compared to manufacturers’ centres that have a million and one cars queued up before yours.
Enter Mobil 1’s Car Care Outlets. ExxonMobil, a company known for lubricants, and primarily automotive oils, has launched a service that provides helps you find a reputable third-party service centre that can get your car's servicing done in a timely manner. M1CCOs, as they’re called, are basically Mobil 1-branded service centres which provide comprehensive maintenance services for an extensive range of car models.
I had a chance to sample the services provided by M1CCO recently, and my car of choice for this test ended up being a 10-year-old Maruti Alto LXi. The car hadn’t seen a recent service and this was the perfect opportunity to test just how good M1CCO’s services would be and also a chance for the old girl to get her much-needed annual maintenance. Federal Auto, an automobile workshop on the NH4 bypass near Pune was the nearest centre equipped for the M1CCO service and that’s where I ended up heading.
The entire service plan consisted of a 32-point checklist, roughly divided into five categories. As soon as I brought my car in, a thorough inspection of oil and water, including distilled water in the battery, power steering fluid, coolant, etc was carried out and, wherever required, a top-up was done. The engine oil was drained and replaced. The second step required a replacement of filters including the engine oil filter and fuel filter, while the air filter was given a thorough cleaning.
Following all the top-ups and replacements, a full inspection of mechanical systems followed involving checking all the belts, spark plugs, tuning up the engine and checking the suspension and brake components. In my poor Alto’s case, the front brake calipers were loose and the pads were worn out. A quick replacement and tightening sorted out the problem though. An electrical inspection was next on the agenda and I needed a brake light replacement which was promptly done. Finally, an inspection of miscellaneous items around the car involved tightening of various screws, nuts, bolts and other mounting fixtures to eliminate squeaks and rattles. Tyre tread and pressures were checked and the car got a thorough wash, making her nice and clean and ready to take on another year of abuse over Pune’s horrible roads.
And all it took were a couple of hours to complete the servicing. I had the option to relax in the waiting room, while sipping on coffee and munching on biscuits. But M1CCO offers complete transparency and I was allowed to enter the workshop area and follow all the maintenance done on my car which was executed to my satisfaction. The car was purring happily again.
These branded third-party service providers seem like a good bet between a manufacturer dealer and a local garage. But do bear in mind that just like your local garage, visiting these workshops too will void any valid manufacturer warranty. Also, apart from those of a few big manufacturers like Maruti and Tata, genuine spare parts are not easily available, so getting the right parts for some cars will prove challenging. Additionally, while training is provided to these outlets, it is very hard to cater to the complete Indian automotive line-up. But if you are jaded with your manufacturer workshop and don’t have a reliable local garage, do give these branded service outlets a try and our suggestion would be to drive in with a car that’s out of warranty, and go for smaller jobs to begin with.