_IN _just over 12 months capped-price servicing has gone from a novel feature offered only by Toyota to the norm.
This month, Mazda, Kia and Hyundai joined the growing list of manufacturers that now put a recommended maximum figure on their service costs and advertise the price.
They join manufacturers like Mitsubishi, Nissan, Ford, Holden and Peugeot which all offer their own versions of the service.
And it seems that as each new manufacturer comes on board with the scheme, they add a "sweetener" to ensure their scheme is better than those being offered by competitors.
Kia has trumped its competition by offering capped-price servicing for the first five years of a car's life and tying free roadside assistance to the deal. It has also made the offer retrospective, so anybody who has a Kia still under new-car warranty will be able to take advantage of the deal.
Like his counterparts before him, Kia's chief operating officer Tony Barlow described the new service as a "genuine value-add program" - and it is.
Depending on the manufacturer, car buyers now know exactly how much they are going to have to pay for servicing for the first three or five years of their car's life.
And, for the first time, they are in a position to be able to factor that cost into their calculations before buying a new car.
But remember - servicing does not include things like tyre and battery replacement or brake repairs.
Capped-price servicing is also a good way to allow dealers to "develop a relationship" with their customers.
If they can keep customers coming back to the dealership, then there is a stronger chance that the person will buy their next car from the same place.
Current figures show that less than 40 per cent of new-car customers get their car serviced at the dealership and that figure drops even further when the car comes out of warranty.
This means that by the time they are ready to replace the vehicle they no longer have any tie to the dealer or the brand.