What Is Car Servicing?
A car service is a health check for your car. A mechanic will look over your vehicle and assess the general wear and tear, check your engine/gearbox and their vital fluid levels, as well as checking other components and see if any parts need replacing.
How Do I Know When My Car Needs A Service?
We would recommend going by your manufacturer's service schedule. Usually, they recommend a full service after a set period of months (6/12/18/24, normally) or miles covered (anything from 6000-24,000).
Although the names of these check-ups vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, broadly speaking there are the following types of service available:
Oil: When your oil or oil filter needs replacing
Minor: Usually the 1st service your car will require, it will then alternate with majors services on whatever time cycle your car follows, i.e., if your car has a 12-month/10,000-mile interval, then after the initial 12 months or 10,000 miles you have a minor service, followed by a major service at 24 months or 20,000 miles, then a minor at 36 months or 30,000 miles, and so on.
Major: Can also be called a ‘Full’ service or a ‘Master’ service, this is the most comprehensive type of manufacturer-scheduled maintenance and will therefore be the most expensive.
Variable maintenance: Your car manufacturer will have a service schedule with their recommendations of when to get your car serviced, so check your car manual for that. However, a lot of the more modern cars don’t have ‘fixed’ servicing and instead use in-car indicators to suggest when they require maintenance. So if you drive regularly on short journeys, you’ll trigger a service warning light faster than if you do lots of steady motorway miles, for example. These systems will often flash up a ‘Service Car Now’ message or similar, or something like ‘Service Due In XXXX Miles’ to tell you it’s time to get the vehicle booked into a dealership.
Why Should I Service My Car?
There are many reasons why you should have regular servicing for your car. It may seem a hassle and unnecessary at times, especially if your car is driving fine and there are no noticeable problems. BUT it does have its benefits…
Spotting issues which may cause expensive/dangerous problems later on: Your wallet may thank you later for this. If you have your car serviced by a mechanic regularly, they will be able to spot any little issues for you to keep an eye on. They may be able to fix it there and then, or book you in at a later date to sort. These problems, if left, could cause a bigger issue later on, which will not only save you an expensive repair bill in the future but might even help to prevent accidents due to your car operating at a level below its best.
Your car will last longer: If you keep up with its regular maintenance and keep your car in tip-top condition, your vehicle should be reliable and usable long after your warranty ends.
If you’re thinking of selling: Car buyers look out for cars which have been cared-for with long service histories and proof of regular MOTs. Would you buy a used car which hasn’t been regularly serviced? No, we thought not.
What happens If I Miss A Service?
Life gets in the way, we get it. But as soon as you remember, get your car booked in for a service with your trusted mechanic. We’ve told you of the benefits of having regular servicing and why you’ll thank yourself later on.
You may feel tempted to leave it another 6 months, a few thousand more miles or even wait until your next service. But remember that this will only add extra wear to your engine, or heaven forbid, that small problem may turn into a bigger problem for you further down the line if you wait too long. Also remember that missed services can affect the car's value, too.
How Much Does A Service Cost?
The cost of servicing your car will vary depending on what car you have and the garage you take it to. Main dealers will be more than independent mechanics and chain outlets, but many prefer the peace-of-mind manufacturer servicing brings.
Big chains like Halfords and KwikFit should charge at a standard price. An interim service costs approximately £75-£125, but if you need a full service you’ll be looking at £150+. If you need your car MOTed around the same time, they also provide combo deals which could save you time and money.
How Long Does A Service Take?
It will depend on the type of service you opt for. An interim service includes fewer checks and is less extensive than a full service, therefore it won’t take as long. Usually, it’s around 1.5 hours. A full service, which will check the whole car, should take around 3 hours to complete. If you opt to have an MOT at the same time as a full service, you may be looking at around 4 hours for the work to be completed.
What Does A Service Include?
The type of service will define what is included when servicing your car. We’d advise going to your local mechanic to find out exactly what is included when they look at your car and the price. Your mechanic will usually replace fluids during your service, but if you need replacement parts outside of an official warranty then they will come at an extra cost.
Usually, the mechanic will check:
Engine oil and filter
Fluid and coolant levels
Charging point (electric/hybrid car)
Charging cables (electric/hybrid car)
Charging connections (electric/hybrid car)
What’s The Difference Between A Service And An MOT?
For everything we’ve just said about regular servicing being a very, very good idea, it is not a mandatory requirement. Most manufacturers will void a warranty if a part that would otherwise be covered goes wrong because you failed to service the car, but ultimately you decide if a car is going to be serviced or not. You will not break any laws if you don’t service the vehicle, it’s just that you will harm its long-term reliability and its value.
An MOT (its name comes from the Ministry of Transport, out of interest), by contrast, is a legal requirement of UK driving. Once your car reaches 3 years old from the date of its first registration, it must have an annual MOT to check its roadworthiness. This test is an inspection of your car to ensure it meets the minimum road-safety requirements set out by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), and after the first test at 36 months then it must have an MOT for the rest of its road-going life at a period of a maximum of 12 months; as in, you can have it MOTed before the 12 months are up, but you may not exceed this 12-month cycle.
The MOT will cover the following:
Body structure: An inspection of the structure of the body.
Lamps, reflectors and electrical equipment: All parts must be in good condition, not be obscured and be correctly positioned.
Seatbelts: All of your seatbelts need to be in good working order.
Steering: Your steering wheel must be secure and in a good condition.
Brakes: Your brakes and brake pedals must be in good condition as well as warning lights relating to them. The tester will carry out a brake performance test.
Exhaust, fuel and emissions: Your exhaust system should be secure and free of leaks.
Tyres: Your tyres’ tread depth needs to be 1.6mm. Plus they must be of an appropriate speed and load rating for your vehicle. The tester will check for lumps, cuts and tears, bulges, tears, exposure of the cord and tread separation.
Suspension: General check of the condition of the car’s springs and dampers.
Driver’s view of the road: There must not be any damage or obstruction to the view larger than 10mm in diameter within the sweep of the wipers. If there is, you need a new windscreen to pass the MOT.
If your vehicle fails to pass the test in a minimum of any 1 of the areas above, you will need to rectify the identified fault(s) at your own expense and then have the car retested again before you can legally drive it on the roads once more.
It is illegal to drive any car of 3 years of age or older without a valid MOT ‘pass’ certificate, and you will be unable to get either road tax or car insurance without a valid MOT either. All cars’ MOT records are listed in an online database, which is checked by both the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) when you come to renew your road tax, and also by insurance companies when you’re trying to get a fresh premium. So don’t think you can avoid the MOT!