There are a few obvious things you should know about owning a luxury car. One is dealer maintenance and repair can be ridiculously expensive. The other is that most non-dealer garages don’t know how to maintain or repair a modern luxury car beyond the mechanical basics. So you can save money by going to non-dealer garages, but certain tasks can only be performed by the dealer. The tricky part is figuring out which is which without losing a ton of money on experimentation. We did exactly that with our Jaguar XK.
The battery on our Jag died late summer last year, stalling the car right in the hands of the panicked valet at Burj Khalifa in front of Armani Hotel. We called in Batt-Mobile to replace the boot-mounted battery on the spot for Dhs 600. Thankfully they came within an hour, as the car couldn’t be moved while the gear was stuck in Park and the electronic parking brake is set. Getting any Jaguar to go into neutral when dead apparently involves removing interior panels to find the hidden release, but that’s a story for another day.
However, once the car started up, it popped up the dreaded “AFS fault” flashing light. The last time it happened, when the battery died in 2013, we had to replace an entire headlight for Dhs 7500 to restore the adaptive turning lights (AFS) function and remove the fault, because the AFS module isn’t sold separately from the headlight. Oddly enough, the dealer price wasn’t a rip-off, as online prices were about the same.
This time, we got the codes read for free at a friend’s garage that deals with luxury cars, which hinted that the modules on both headlights were fried, requiring two new headlights!
At this point, we went to a small dealer service-centre in Deira (who probably hardly see Jags since they’re more busy with their other non-luxury brands) for their “free oil change” offer (more on that later) and asked if they could read the codes. They were asking for Dhs 600 for this 1-minute task, so we said no. Meanwhile, they also killed the new battery again, probably by leaving the smart key near the car (a known XK design flaw), introducing countless new computer errors after the jump-start and refusing to take responsibility by blaming the new battery. The battery was fine when we got it checked later.
Anyway, we got all the new error codes cleared again at our friend’s garage (except the AFS fault) for free, and ordered a scrap AFS module from the internet for only Dhs 200. For that low, it was worth a try. We swapped it in, and it didn’t work. At this point we were already bored of driving with the headlights cross-eyed and pointed downwards due to this fault, so we decided to drop the car off at the main dealer service-centre on Sheikh Zayed Road, cost be damned.
This dealer centre is more knowledgeable, and came back to us saying we only had to change a “headlight control module” that was separate from the headlights. After negotiating a labour discount, the price was Dhs 1900. That’s a whole lot lower from what we were expecting. The lights are good now.
So there you go. For basic mechanical work, aftermarket garages are fine. For very specific electrical issues, the dealer is still the best option. And even then, you have to look at which branch is more familiar with your brand, since they may also be handling other brands. And it’d be a good idea to pre-emptively change the battery before it dies on your out-of-warranty luxury car, whether it’s a BMW 1-Series or a Hyundai Genesis. It’s amazing that modern cars still don’t have a warning for low battery (except Tesla).
To celebrate the Jag’s newfound eyes, we gave it a smart-repair and dent-removal treatment on the doors from Automotive Repair Systems, for a total of Dhs 1000. Pricey, but they did polish the whole car too which removed a few other scuff marks.
Now coming back to that “free oil change and health check” offer. The Jaguar-Land Rover dealerships have been running this scheme for out-of-warranty cars over limited periods since last year. So our Jag got a free oil change at the beginning of 2016. And then another one in the winter of 2016. And now the offer is back again this month so we have an appointment in the coming weeks (unfortunately at that Deira branch again, since all others were fully booked). The “health check” part is nothing more than a visual look, but we haven’t had to pay for an oil change since 2015. So the module, the battery and the petrol were our only costs for the whole of 2016, thanks to the generosity of the dealer.
Update: We got the free oil change and check-up done yet again at the dealership in March, and it went smoothly. Apparently our car is perfectly fine too.
Original Mileage When Bought: 99,150 km
Latest Mileage To Date: 111,200 km
Latest Average Fuel Economy: 14.5 litres/100 km
Cost of Latest Problems: Dhs 1900
Cost of Latest Maintenance: Dhs 600
Total Non-Fuel Running Cost Since Bought: Dhs 36,035