If you are confused between a maintenance plan and a service plan – don’t worry, you are not alone! In South Africa, these types of contracts have only became mainstream in the past fifteen years or so.
Service and Maintenance plans differ so be sure you know exactly what your specific plan covers.
For a service plan or maintenance plan to stay intact your vehicle needs to be maintained according to manufacturer specifications at an approved, usually franchise branded dealership. Both a service plan and a maintenance plan will only cover a service if the car is within their specified acceptable mileage – i.e., if the manufacturer specifies a 15 000km service interval and allow 1500km’s variance you would need to perform your first service between 13 500 and 16 500km’s.
Manufacturers also specify a time frame for service intervals should you not cover enough mileage to reach the service intervals timeously. This is usually one year. Failure to comply with these terms will result in your service plan or maintenance plan being cancelled.
A maintenance plan incorporates more benefits for the buyer than a service plan by including additional maintenance items and wear and tear that are not scheduled for a specific service and as such are not covered by a service plan. These would include the gearbox, clutch, suspension, brake pads and discs.
Usually, whatever is not covered in a service plan, is covered in a maintenance plan.The maintenance plan comes with an age and mileage limit - for example, your car may not be older than five years or have more than 120 000km on its odometer. (This is determined by the manufacturer.)
A service plan, while often dependant on the manufacturer and price class of the car, generally covers all the costs involved with the regular servicing of your car. This includes the cost of labour and standard parts that are scheduled for the specific service but excludes parts and labour that are not scheduled for a specific service such as windscreen wipers or brake pads.
In summary a more comprehensive option would be the maintenance plan. If you are interested in buying a car that is new (or nearly new), there is a good chance that it will be covered by a warranty (of some kind) and possibly a service plan (or balance thereof). Some manufacturers and financial institutions allow you to extend your vehicle's maintenance plans.