We put our cars through a lot. They are complex machines that many of us use almost every day. It's unsurprising then that they require a lot of upkeep. But while lots of us drive regularly, not so many of us know exactly what to do to keep our cars in good nick.
Regular car servicing is the answer here. However, if you're not careful, it's easy to get fleeced for a full service in a garage. We'll explain what a typical car servicing involves, and help you find a cheap quote to get your vehicle looked at.
In This Guide:
How often should you get your car serviced?
As with all things this will depend on a few factors, namely how much you drive the car, and how important it is to your day-to-day life. A good rule of thumb to follow is that you should get a full service once a year or every 12,000 miles, whichever comes first.
You can usually get a car service from your vehicle manufacturer at a dedicated service centre, or at a dealership, but typically this will be the most expensive option. Our partners at MotorEasy will connect you with a nearby authorised garage where you can get a service for much cheaper than you would from a manufacturer.
Full service vs interim service
If you are someone who drives a lot (generally understood to be around 1,000 miles per month) then waiting 12 months to get your car looked at can be very risky as there are obviously many things that can go wrong in that time. The recommendation is for these drivers to supplement their full service with a 6 monthly interim service. This won't be an exhaustive check of your vehicle, but covers key liquids (engine oil, brake fluid, coolant, washer fluid, etc), and other components that are prone to wear out quickly like spark plugs, oil filters, brake pads, tyres, and lights.
Full services, on the other hand will go a bit deeper. A major service will check/replace key functioning parts like drive belt, air con units, fuel pipes, exhaust, air filters, and steering mechanisms.
It's important to note that if your service does bring up any issues that need addressing, you will likely be liable to pay for replacement or repairs yourself. Often this kind of work will not be included in the cost of the service itself.
What's the difference between a service and an MOT?
An MOT is a required test that your vehicle has to pass in order to demonstrate its roadworthiness. Once your vehicle is at least 3 years old, it needs to pass an MOT every year. This involves a pre-determined series of tests that your car has to pass.
A service is different, and isn't required by law. While an MOT tests roadworthiness, a service goes a bit further to check that everything is running well, rather than just that it is running at all.
Oil and filter change
While a service will address the general health of your car, checking your oil and filter regularly is important in the meantime, and should extend the amount of time you can spend between full services.
The oil in your vehicle is an essential part of the engine, providing lubrication for the many moving parts. Having oil that's past its best will reduce your vehicle's fuel efficiency. While an essential part of car maintenance, this kind of check should supplement rather than replace more comprehensive servicing of a car.
Having your brakes in working order is crucial - this should go without saying. And while you might think you will be able to tell if your brakes are working or not, an issue can build up over time and result in serious damage to the vehicle, and injury to yourself, if left alone.
A brake check will involve a mechanic removing your wheels (where necessary) and then examining your disc brake and brake pads and either making any minor adjustments or at least letting you know what work needs to be done.