Death of home servicing?
Q. I own a 2008 Yamaha Fazer 600S2 which I plan on keeping for a few years.
I like to do my own maintenance, but the bike has electronic fuel injection, ECU and a factory immobilizer, which is all very well, but in years to come if anything goes wrong with it I’m told I will have to take it to a Yamaha dealer as other outlets won’t be able to fix it.
How can I be sure they not going to rip me off, telling me there is something wrong with it when there's not? Who are we to know when we haven't got the kit to check it ourselves?
Andy Browning, email
A. The first thing to say is that black box electronics have been around for years and they are always getting better in terms of power usage and durability.
The only downside of them drawing less power is that the wiring looms on modern bikes aren't as robust because they can save weight and expensive material by using thinner copper wires and relays.
In the old days, a relay that had got ‘hairy’ with corrosion would still click into action, but now that gunge may be enough to stop them in one winter, instead of three.
In which case, as an aficionado of home servicing my advice to you would be to check all the connections and weatherproof them with rubber grease as that will seal them up without reacting with the electrics.
As for servicing costs, they are a function of time and materials and it's a case of swings and roundabouts, in that unfaired bikes were easier to get at, but now you don't have the replacement costs of worn points and condensers and the 30-minute labour charge to fit them.
Although you might pay a premium to use a franchised dealer, don't forget that the service intervals on Yamahas went from 4000 to 6000 miles in 2001, and other firms have similar intervals.
To identify a lot of faults dealers have to use diagnostic equipment which show fault codes, so if you didn’t trust the dealer you could always ask to see evidence of the fault in the same way as you might ask for worn parts to be kept for inspection.
If you did get into a dispute, the Motorcycle Industry Association offers an independent arbitration service, or Yamaha and the other firms have in-house Customer Service departments.