Is Logbook Servicing Actually Necessary/ What Is Fill For Life?
Logbook services are one of the most requested things for our Kashy mechanics. Not a day goes by that we don’t receive a few requests for a 57,000km/31 month service (which isn’t a thing) for some generic car but, do vehicle owners actually understand what logbook servicing is? And is logbook servicing actually necessary at all?
We actually take a fairly controversial position on this topic because of the introduction of “fill-for-life”. Though this is a fairly new addition to the automotive world, fill for life components are one of the biggest oxymoron’s we can think of and why we’d argue that logbook servicing isn’t necessarily best practice any more.
For the uninitiated, ‘fill-for-life’ means that a component (such as a transmission or differential) leaves the factory with the oil that is meant to be in it until it goes to the big wrecking yard in the sky. This is basically saying that through newer oil technology, oil will essentially never degrade.
We might be called sceptics but, it hard to believe that this ‘wunder-oil’ will be the exact same in a transmission or differential at 300,000+km as in a brand new car. Especially when considering the amount of heat, metal filings and particulate an oil experiences on the regular.
Isn’t this all a bit off topic for logbook servicing?
Not really. The fact that manufacturers are using “fill-for-life” oils actually brings us back to one of the most interesting parts about logbook servicing and cars in general.
Even though it might not be the first thing that most people look into when buying a new car, servicing and service cost is quickly becoming one of the big talking points when deciding what car to buy. Which might be as many newer cars just don’t break down as much, meaning reliability is not as big a factor in the outcome.
This means that manufacturers are incentivised to slowly extend the distance between each service while reducing the cost of each service (potentially by removing service items) all in an effort to have the best service plan available to new owners.
On the surface, there really doesn’t seem to be that much downside for vehicle owners yet. Services seem to have become less frequent and less expensive. So why are we dallying on about it?
The problems we see with this as mechanics is that while this oil is fill for life, the degradation of the oil means the life of the component is drastically reduced. On top of that, longer service intervals mean less opportunity to find an issue before it’s a major problem.
In our opinions, the worst offenders are consistently BMW and Mercedes Benz for in this situation as even their oil change and inspection intervals have extended out to 30,000km+, even though oil might provide significantly less protection after 15,000km.
Essentially, each logbook service has become less frequent and cheaper overall but the frequency of major repairs seems to have gone up significantly. Which is why we think logbook servicing leaves some room to be improved.