Here's much it costs to service a car post-ashfall

We've all been told the adverse effects of volcanic ash on your car. Your paint gets scratched up, the engine's probably choking from all the dust it ingested and likely running hot too, and your interior is all messed up. To put it bluntly, there's going to be a long list of what needs to be done to prevent any further harm to your vehicle. We can tell you what exactly to fix but the real question here is this: How much will it cost?

If you're going to be extremely thorough, which we recommend you do, get ready to clutch on to your wallets.

But first, here are the things that need to be done to your car, especially if you just drove through heavy and extreme ashfall.


Fluids and filters

First of all, you will need to change your engine oil and the filter because who knows what's been sucked in through the intakes. That means you should also change your air filter because, chances are, it's caked in ashes as well. While we're on the subject of filters, change your vehicle's cabin air filter as well.

It doesn't matter if you just had a general service recently or not. There is a big possibility that ash particles have made their way to the engine and it's best not to take any chances. Just to be sure, change the transmission fluid of your vehicle, be it manual, automatic, or CVT.


Cleanup time

It goes without saying that your car won't just need a car wash, it will need a much more thorough cleanup. Again, if you drove through heavy ashfall, it's best to get a full detail inside and out, top to bottom. Your engine will have to be cleaned too and for those who have turbocharged vehicles (ex. Fortuner, Montero Sport, Civic RS, WRX STI), the intercooler and heat exhangers will have to be cleaned up as well. Air-conditioning cleaning is a must too, as well as your brakes and wheels.


What about my glass and wipers?

Ashfall is nothing like the burned-up wood and paper. It feels much grittier and more abrasive than sand. If you had to use your wipers during an ashfall, there is a possibility that you might have scratched up your windshield or worn down your wipers at the very least. Do a visual inspection on the windshield first if you spot and any obvious scratches, then run your hand on it. If you feel grooves or imperfections on the glass, perhaps it's time to replace it. Of course, it's best to get it checked by the professionals. As for your wipers, it's better to be safe than sorry so just replace them.


How much?

Now, this will all depend on what type of car that needs a service, as well as the dealership and the manufacturer. In this case, we took some popular models for an estimate to give you a general idea of the costs. We also asked detailers, independent shops (talyer), and specialists how much to get rid of all the ashes and bring the car back to tip top shape.

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For example, you own a Honda BR-V. Asking around Honda service centers, an oil change package (oil and filter) for it hovers around the Php 5,000 to Php, 5,400 range. An air filter for the BR-V will set you back Php 895 while a brake cleaning job costs Php 1,000. you'll probably need to change your cabin air filter too and that's Php 630. The Honda dealerships we asked offered a full detailing package which also includes an engine wash, underchassis wash and glass detailing, and it's Php 8,000 for the BR-V. Wipers, and there's three of them for this compact crossover, is about Php 1,800 for all of them. Transmission fluid, in this case CVT fluid, will cost you Php 2,500, while basic air-conditioning cleaning is another Php 630.

That's a total of Php 20,855 , which includes labor. Again, these prices will vary from dealer to dealer.

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Let's move up a few size classes and let's use the Toyota Fortuner 4x2 A/T for reference. For an oil change plus the filter, it's about Php 5,500 and an air filter is more or less Php 1,350. Total bill for the wiper replacement (all three) is around Php 1,200. As it has a pretty hefty transmission, giving it new fluid will cost you in the region of Php 5,500. On top of that, differential oil is at about Php 1,000. In house-detailing on the other hand will be around Php 9,000 to Php 10,000 but in some cases, you'll have to pay more in some cases if you want your glass detailed or engine washed. Services like that would range from Php 1,000 to Php 1,500.

All in all, you'll be spending around Php 25,000 sans labor costs and that doesn't include the basic air-con cleaning service just yet. Do note that these are dealer prices and it could be less if you have the patience to call every dealership in your area to get a good deal.

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Then there's the Isuzu mu-X and D-Max. There select dealerships now have a package for those who need to get their Isuzus serviced after an ashfall. It's Php 3,930 for the oil change and filter, Php 2,901 for the air filter, Php 2,454 for automatic transmission fluid change, and the air wash and air-conditioning cleaning package at Php 8,846 for the mu-X or Php 4,423 for the D-Max. That's Php 18,131 if you have a mu-X or Php 13,708 for D-Max pickups, and you'll add about Php 3,000 in labor for the mentioned services. The total price is lower if your Isuzu is equipped with a manual transmission.


For those who have an older car, it's understandable if they (or you) don't want to go to the dealership (or casa) to get these things done. We'll give it to you straight by saying you'll save more if you go to independent shops and detailers.

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So for example, a full service for something like a mid to late-2000's Honda Civic, that will set you back around Php 10,000 to Php 20,000, depending on the extent of the things that need to be done to it. An oil change will be about Php 2,500 to Php 3,500, Air filters could be as low as Php 500, all the way to Php 2,200, while cabin air filters sit between Php 500 to Php 1,000. Brake cleaning job ranges from Php 1,500 to Php 2,000. Transmission fluid change is in the region of Php 4,000 to Php 5,500, while a full air-con cleaning job (which includes pulling down parts) would range from Php 7,000 to Php 8,000 although a standard clean would be much, much less. Prices will depend on where you get your car serviced and labor rates will always vary.

As for detailing both inside and out, that will depend on the size of the car. From what we've observed, a full detailing job ranges from Php 5,000, all the way to Php 9,000 (or more) for full size SUVs such as Chevrolet Suburbans and Ford Expeditions. Some detailers will package them with an engine wash or throw in the glass detailing for free as well, saving you more money.

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How can I save a few more bucks?

If the prices shock you, there are a few ways you can save your hard-earned cash. First, you can DIY (Do-It-Yourself) the exterior and interior cleanup yourself. All you need to do is buy what you need, (car shampoo, polishes, interior cleaners) to make your car's coat shiny again and interior (almost) like new. 

You could also but the oil yourself before you send it to your trusted mechanic so all you'll have to pay for is labor. Sourcing the parts yourself could save you a great deal. If you're handy with tools, you can change the oil yourself too. Of course, if you'll work on the car yourself, wear protective gear such as an N95 mask, mechanic gloves, and a weather-resistant jacket.


Get it done ASAP

If you're daunted by the prices you just saw, we understand. But if you keep running your car in its current ash-coated state, you'll be fixing and changing a lot more that what we just mentioned. Remember, it's better to prevent illness than find a cure and the same principle applies in cars. You'll also be spending more if you don't fix it up now.

You wouldn't want that, do you?


Special thanks to Ben Capales of Honda Cars Kalookan, Darwin Maming of Isuzu Pasig, Ryan de Guzman of Toyota Marikina, and all shops that made this feature possible