What does a full car service include?

If you want to know more about what is involved in a car service, and why it is important to have a service carried out on your car regularly - we explain all here.


By Marmalade Author

Updated on May 21st, 2024

Car servicing is important for so many reasons. Not only does it save you time and money on any big issues your car may have, but it could also save your life by identifying issues early on. It’s important, but what’s involved in a car service, and why is it needed if you’ve already had an MOT? We’ve got the answers for you!

What is a car service?

A regular car service checks the condition of your car. It can assess everything from general wear and tear to fluids, brakes, the engine, and more. What is covered during each service will differ slightly, as it depends on your vehicle’s make, model, and age.

What does a full car service include?

A car service can involve system checks, analysis of up to 50 or more components, and various adjustments including:

  • An engine oil change and/or filter replacement
  • Checking lights, tyres, exhaust and operation of brakes and steering
  • Ensuring your engine is ‘tuned’ to deliver peak performance
  • Checking hydraulic fluid and coolant levels
  • Checking the cooling system (from radiators in your car to pumps and hoses)
  • Suspension checks
  • Steering alignment
  • Testing the car’s battery condition

How much does a full car service cost?

The cost of a full car service will vary from different providers and is different up and down the country. You may want to consider shopping around when it comes to booking in a full car service as you may be able to get it cheaper. Remember, the cost of the service does not include any repairs or replacements of new parts - these will be charged separately.

Why should I have my car serviced?

1. It's not the same as a MOT

But I've just had an MOT, why do I need to have my car serviced too?!" Many drivers feel this way, especially with all the other outgoings. But servicing is actually completely different to an MOT. An MOT is an annual technical inspection for safety - it's not designed to replace or repair worn vehicle components. A full service ensures wear and tear is taken care of, while an MOT won't.

2. Pay now, save later

Taking care and dealing with the smaller issues at an early stage will save you money in the long run. Although you would be paying in the present, it could be much more expensive if you let the issue get worse, and become a bigger problem to solve. For example, oil left unchanged can break the engine which would result in a costly fee compared to a simple oil check-up.

3. Save money on fuel

A healthy car tends to be more affordable to run. With its engine and components running at their most effective level, your car is likely to be more fuel efficient, saving you cash at the petrol pump!

4. Car lifespan

A car that's been taken care of will have a longer life expectancy, saving you from forking out on a new motor any time soon

5. Do you want to sell your car?

Having a full and thorough service history will allow you to ask for a better price when it comes to selling your car. 

Each car should come with its own service book, which can be stamped by the mechanic each time your vehicle goes for a service. If you are buying a car, aim to try and find one with a full service history as this will offer peace of mind that your car has been properly cared for by any previous owner(s).

6. It will help with your insurance

If you have an accident which means your car isn't repairable and needs to be replaced, your insurer may use your car's service history to estimate its pre-accident value. Having a full service history could improve its valuation figure.

How long does a full car service take?

It’s best to ask the garage that’s servicing your car how long they need it for, but here’s a guide, depending on the type of service you've booked:

An interim service is a less extensive service that checks over the main parts of your car, and it should be carried out every 6 months or every 6,000 miles. It usually takes around 1.5 hours to complete this level of service.

A full service is a complete check of the whole car, which should be carried out annually or every 12,000 miles. This type of service can take around 3 hours to complete.

Air conditioning servicing

Just so you know, car services rarely cover your vehicle’s air conditioning system. A separate service to check and re-gas a vehicle’s air conditioning would need to be done by a specially trained technician. They have a mandatory qualification for air conditioning servicing which covers the possible hazards of refrigerant, including how to dispose of it.

How often should I have my car serviced?

How often you should have your car serviced depends on several factors, including:

1. The age of your car

2. The make and model of your car

3. How it is used (rural roads, motorway driving etc)

4. How many miles you do

Have a look at your car's manual, which should tell you how often the manufacturer recommends servicing. If you have a newer car, you may also get a service reminder on your dashboard.

If you’re still not sure when your next service is due, contact the last garage to have serviced your car as they may have a record of your service history (online or paper copies). If they’re local, they may also be able to set up a service reminder for you.

When you collect your car from the garage following a service, make sure any service reminder that was showing on your dashboard has been reset, and that the mechanic has signed and dated your service book.

You can’t do a service yourself

Lots of modern cars are computerised and complex and most car owners simply don’t have the tools or skills to complete a service safely and effectively. Electronic control units and fuel injections have made cars easier to tune up and keep in good shape, but this can only be done with the right computer equipment and software. To ensure the job is done right, it's best to trust the skills and experience of a good mechanic.


You may be risking your life!

There are numerous checks that we should make as car owners. But, hands up – not everyone will check their tyres before every motorway journey. We tend to rely on our cars without thinking, and often get lazy when it comes to safety checks and maintenance. An MOT only happens once every 12 months - that's a long time to let unseen problems go unnoticed, potentially resulting in a dangerous incident. Safety is a major reason to have your car regularly serviced between MOTs – although it shouldn’t replace regular maintenance checks such as oil, coolant and tyres.

It's recommended that every vehicle is serviced at least once between MOTs. If you own an older vehicle or rack up a high mileage over the year, then your car may need servicing more regularly.

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By Marmalade Author

Providing tips and advice for young drivers on all aspects of driving - from getting through the driving test to buying and running your first car.

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