Each next model, according to its creators, is more perfect than the previous one. This seems to mean reliability. At least now, presentations are increasingly talking about lowering the cost of ownership. Manufacturers of fuels and lubricants and components also regularly report on the improvement of their products. Why, then, over the past 40 years, the time between service rides has changed little?
Engine oil: resource, replacement and ambiguities
Our leap occurred in 1970, when the Zhiguli and new oils appeared: the official service interval for VAZs was 10, 000 km. It was not just progress - a breakthrough! After all, just a few years before the start of the plant in Tolyatti, oil at Moskvich 412 was recommended to be changed after 4000 km. And even earlier, the oil mileage of, say, Pobeda was only 2000–3000 km. Her front suspension needed to be squeezed through every thousand! Today it causes an ironic smile, but from the VAZ 10, 000 km of the early 1970s and today some modern cars have not left far.
The cost of ownership (and hence the frequency and price of maintenance) is now one of the main factors when choosing a car. And to find out what life will cost with a car (at least approximately) is not so simple. Company and dealer sites excitedly talk about interior design, outstanding power and amazing accessories, but disguise information about the timing and the more so the cost of maintenance. For some models, the variation in service prices - from dealer to dealer - is up to 20%! There is also confusion among manufacturers setting a common cost of service: some dealers indicate the price taking into account consumables, others without them. Some offer fixed price packages. In general, everything is not easy.
Slightly easier to deal with the timing of service. Alas, for some companies they almost did not extend from the Zhiguli times. As a rule, you need to call in a service once a year or after 15, 000 km. Record holders are firms that extend mileage to 20, 000 km. True, here is not without guile. So, the Peugeot-Citroen concern, declaring an interservice mileage of 20, 000 km, requires changing the oil every 10, 000 km - which means that visits to service stations have to be done twice as often. In France, the interservice mileage of the same Citroens is 30, 000 km. Although the life of a Parisian car today is not very different from that of Moscow, and identical oils are poured everywhere.
We asked questions about the terms of servicing cars in Europe and Russia to representatives of the largest automobile companies. They also asked about electric cars - maybe they will help to drastically reduce the cost of owning a car? After all, electric cars have neither engine oil, nor spark plugs, nor many other elements. Brake pads wear less during regenerative braking …
Alas, not everything is simple with electric cars either: there is as yet no sufficient experience in servicing them. And the costs of replacing a failed battery will more than cover the cost of servicing any car with an internal combustion engine for several years.
Internet in the car: connected by one network
And hybrids? Serving them, you need to pay for a regular car with an internal combustion engine, and in addition - for a complex electrician if necessary.
Maybe a panacea is an individual approach? The development of computer technology and the Internet has made it possible to assign service dates for each vehicle individually. A car diagnostic system connected to the dealer via the Internet informs him and the car owner about the wear of oils and parts. But it is possible that some will have to call on the service more often than today. First, to change the oil, then to change the worn brake pads or the timing belt … It is easier and cheaper to carry out all the operations at the same time - even if the wear of the pads is still not so significant: it’s more expensive to call the service station again. But with an individual approach, specific operating conditions are taken into account - those who drive mainly on highways in stable modes, without frequent acceleration and braking, will benefit.
The development of services according to an individual scheme is constrained by the legislation of some countries, which prohibits surveillance of individuals. Say, monitoring the technical condition of the car and its location can be regarded as an interference in personal life.
In general, it is useless to wait for a revolutionary increase in the intervals between scheduled visits to the service. Manufacturers have their own reasons - they insure themselves against unforeseen problems. Say, periodic visits to maintenance allow you to more closely monitor the condition of the nodes and catch problems at an early stage; in addition, operating conditions in Russia are difficult. Although it is not without reinsurance: in Europe there are countries with no less harsh climate. Yes, and dealers need to earn …
Buying a car is now easier than in Soviet times. But many motorists are still buying first, and the back of the head begins to scratch only then - when faced with high maintenance costs. Service intervals, basic maintenance, service and parts prices need to be studied ahead of time! Yes, you will have to torment dealers whose talkativeness, when it comes to cost of ownership, tends to zero.
General rules: the maintenance of an expensive car will cost more than the maintenance of a budget car. Four-wheel drive - additional costs. A hybrid drive is also a waste. For reference, we calculated the cost of servicing some of the most popular cars in our market for the first 60, 000 km. Only obligatory routine maintenance was taken into account without taking into account the replacement of wearing parts and assemblies (brake pads and discs, tires, batteries, etc.).
Dr. Wolfgang ZIBART, Head of Engineering, Jaguar Land Rover
To increase the interservice mileage, the emergence of new technologies, primarily related to oil and fuel, is necessary. We are trying to increase the service interval. In continental Europe and the UK, for all our diesel engines, including the smallest (with 163 hp), which is not yet in Russia, it has grown to 24 months. Our studies show that on Russian roads, the load on all elements of the car is higher, and that is why the service interval for Russia is reduced. Theoretically, for electric vehicles, the period between maintenance should be increased. But at this stage there are too few such machines, there is not much experience in their operation - it has yet to be accumulated.
Kim Song HWAN, head of Kia in Russia
For us, the cost of owning a car is an important topic. It is not as significant as for commercial vehicles, and when choosing a car is not in the foreground, but we always remind: our cars are one of the most profitable in this sense. With our new engines, transmissions, and other components, we may well declare a service interval of 30, 000 km. In Europe, we have so far convinced importers to increase their interservice mileage from 10, 000 to 20, 000 km. I believe that in Russia we will be able to agree on this with dealers. After all, fuel and oils in Russia are high-quality, qualified servicemen, operating conditions are quite European. We need to convince dealers: there will be no loss of profit from reducing the frequency of service, because there will be more Kia cars!
Dealers will have to put up with less frequent service. After all, electric cars will come to the cities of Russia quite quickly. For example, we did not have time to show the electric Kia-Soul in Moscow when potential customers appeared.
In a word, we care about the wallets of our customers, because it is beneficial to us.
Frank WELSH, Skoda Board Member, Technical Development
When will the car become unattended? It's hard to answer. But there are already nodes that do not require attention during the entire period of operation, for example, a gearbox or an exhaust system. But more recently, in a box it was necessary to change the oil every two years.
Cars are operated far from the same conditions. Some car systems already know how to communicate via the Internet with service terminals that decide to carry out certain jobs. But to say that soon once every ten years there will be enough service is impossible. Perhaps with electric cars it will be a little easier. But the cooling system and the batteries themselves will inevitably require regular maintenance, or at least a check. So electric cars will not do without maintenance.
We want to switch to a flexible service system.
Many sensors will inform the service station about the state of components and parts. The car itself will calculate when it needs service, and will inform the owner about it. This approach is most justified because it takes into account road, climatic and other operating conditions, including driving style.
However, more important, as it seems to us, is the increase in the number of parts and assemblies that do not require maintenance at all. It is easier for the client to come to the service to replace a part or another, and not to change the details with a long list, albeit less often.
But the future is still for a flexible service schedule - for a specific car and specific owner.
Ilya NIKONOROV, Development Director, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation Rus
pajero new (99) a
Cars and their engines, of course, are being improved. But the fuel we drive lags behind automobile progress, not allowing us to do without changing the oil for a long time, even the most modern one.
To reduce the cost of maintaining cars, designers are striving to make an increasing number of nodes unattended. But not so long ago it was required to extrude the cardan, suspension and steering, adjust the bearings, clean and adjust the carburetor.
Once, it was necessary to adjust the gaps in the gas distribution mechanism, so hydraulic compensators appeared. On modern Outlander engines of 2.0 and 2.4 liters, new alloys and oils can reduce wear to negligible values and generally forget about this unit. Only once every 90, 000 km is a control check provided and, if necessary, an adjustment that is required only if the machine has been operated very hard.
Today, on some cars, the on-board computer considers the engine hours of operation and determines when to go for maintenance. For a certain period or mileage, the oil manages to develop its resource or oxidize from time to time. Oil aging is affected by temperature changes, driving style and, most importantly, fuel quality. This is the main reason that in Russia the interservice mileage is different than in Europe. In the Old World, it’s difficult to run into scorched or dirty gasoline. And we have? You cannot import new cars into Russia that do not meet the Euro 4 standard, but for some reason you can sell Euro 3 fuel. The amount of sulfur in Euro 3 gasoline is as much as 150 mg / kg versus 50 mg / kg in Euro 4 gasoline.
The Mitsubishi i MiEV electric car has a service interval of 20, 000 km (or one year). Maintenance comes down to inspection and diagnostics and is cheaper than for a regular car. But the antifreeze of the air conditioning system and brake fluid are changed at the same time as on machines with ICE.
The hybrid “PHEV Outlander” has a gasoline engine, so the service interval is 15, 000 km or one year. But its internal combustion engine wraps less hours than the same motor of the usual Outlander, and it works in more optimal modes. Therefore, the candles are designed for 60, 000 km, antifreeze - for 120, 000 km, even brake pads last much longer.
Philippe PRAVEL, Director of Quality, Renault
We pay close attention to work on increasing the service interval. The main thing is the quality of work and a reasonable price. The frequency of service is determined by specific conditions, so the interservice mileage varies from region to region and for Renault cars ranges from 10, 000 to 30, 000 km. In Russia, it is very cold in winter, which requires additional maintenance costs. And in Argentina, for example, there are many dusty roads.
Of course, we challenge designers to increase interservice runs. But do not forget that more durable solutions can be more expensive.
We are conducting a dialogue with customers to understand what they prefer: pay more when buying a car or buy it cheaper, but more often then contact the service?