A guide to servicing your car

If you’re going to keep your car in tip-top condition, it will need regular servicing. Here’s everything you need to know about the process.

If you’re going to keep your car in tip-top condition, it will need regular servicing. Here’s everything you need to know about the process.

Julie Daniels
Insurance expert
5
minute read
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Last Updated 10 MAY 2022

What is a car service?

A car service is a regular check a mechanic carries out on your car to make sure everything’s working as it should.

Your mechanic will inspect your car’s mechanical and electrical parts, along with the tyres, brakes and other essential parts. The older your car, the more likely it is to need a tune-up. For new cars, a service might only mean an oil and filter change.
 

Why do I need to service my car?

Having your car regularly serviced reduces your risk of breaking down. It could also identify potential issues, helping you avoid expensive repair bills down the line.

There are other cost benefits too. Having a clean engine means your car will go further to the gallon, saving you money on fuel, petrol or diesel. And when you come to sell the car, having a full-service history could help it depreciate less.

How long does a car service take?

An interim service – usually carried out every six months – takes around an hour and a half. A full service – carried out every year – takes around three hours. A major service – usually carried out every two years – takes around three to four hours. But, if your mechanic finds a problem with your car, it could take longer.

How often does my car need servicing?

How often your car will need servicing will depend on what vehicle you drive. Check the manufacturer’s handbook to see when the car is due a service and what needs doing. Generally, a car should have a full service once a year to keep it in good condition.

When it comes to getting a service, you have a few options. You could go to your local garage – this is often the cheapest way to go. But make sure the garage is familiar with your car’s make and model and that they use original or branded parts. If they don’t, it could invalidate your warranty.

The second option is to visit your local dealership. Here, the mechanics will be specially trained to deal with your particular model. They’ll also have a ready supply of brand-new, manufacturer-approved parts. This does tend to be a more expensive option though.

Your third option is to head to a chain like Kwik-Fit or Halfords, which could offer good deals on servicing. They can also do your MOT at the same time.

How much does it cost to service a car?

Again, this depends on your car and who carries out your service. If you have your MOT done at the same time, you may well get a discount. But don’t forget, you might also have to factor in the cost of any repairs and replacement parts.

As a rough guide, you could expect to pay around £100 for an interim service, £165 for a full service and upwards of £200 for a major service. But again, prices will vary depending on where you go.

Frequently asked questions

What types of service are there?

Generally speaking, there are three types of car service: an interim service, a full service and a major service. A major service is the most comprehensive and includes everything you’d expect from a full annual service, along with extras such as changing the brake fluid and cabin filter.

What’s on an interim car service checklist?

When you take your car for an interim service, your mechanic should carry out the following checks:

  • Replacing the oil and oil filter
  • Seat belt inspection
  • Checking the lights, battery, exhaust and tyres
  • Checking and refilling windscreen wash, antifreeze coolant, power steering fluid, lights, charging system, steering column, shock absorber and suspension.

What’s on a full car service checklist?

When you take your car for a full service, your mechanic should carry out these checks on top of those carried out during the interim service:

  • Wheel alignment, balance and wheel bearing.
  • Replacing air and fuel filters.

What’s on a major car service checklist?

A major service includes all the checks previously mentioned, as well as these add-ons:

  • Replacing brake fluid, spark plugs, odour and allergy filter.
  • Battery test.

But, bear in mind, this is only a guide. Your mechanic will tailor the checks depending on what car you drive and the manufacturer’s requirements. Whether your car is petrol, diesel or electric will also have a bearing on what checks are carried out.

What’s the difference between getting an MOT and a service?

There are some similarities between an MOT and a service, in that both involve having your car checked over. But while an MOT is a legal test to make sure your car is roadworthy, which doesn’t include making any changes or repairs, a service is designed to keep your car in prime condition by identifying any potential issues before they become serious and costly to repair.

Essentially, an MOT is an annual test of vehicle safety, which checks that your vehicle meets road safety and environmental standards, while a service will check your car is running properly and any necessary repairs will be carried out. This will improve your car’s performance, prolong its lifespan and even protect its value.

What type of car service should I choose?

The type of service you go for will depend on your car’s age, make and model. An older car is likely to need more attention than a brand-new machine. It will also depend on how much you use your car. Here’s a rough guide:

Service type When to have it
Interim Service Every six months or 6,000 miles
Full service Every 12 months or 12,000 miles
Major service  Every 24 months or 24,000 miles

If in doubt, ask your mechanic.

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