What does a full car service include?
Car servicing is important for several reasons, from saving you money to potentially saving your life. But what's involved in a car service, and why is it needed if you've already had an MOT carried out?
What is a car service?
A regular service takes care of your car, and the wear and tear of its parts and fluids. Servicing differs depending on your vehicle model. It can involve up to 50 or more component and system checks and adjustments, including:
An engine oil change
An engine oil filter replacement
The checking of lights, tyres, exhaust and operation of brakes and steering
Ensuring your engine is 'tuned' to run in peak condition
Checking hydraulic fluid and coolant levels
Checking over the cooling system, from the radiator to the pumps and hoses
Testing battery condition
Why should I have my car serviced?
It's not the same as an 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.
It can save you money in several ways too:
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
Pay now, save later
Taking care of small problems and repairs at an early stage is often far cheaper than leaving a problem to worsen, resulting in a much larger and more costly repair. Oil left unchanged, for example, can break the engine - a far higher cost than a simple oil check-up
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
Thinking of selling?
Having a full and thorough service history can help you command a better price for your car when it comes to selling it on
If you have an accident and 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.
You can't do it yourself
Modern cars are complex and computerised, and most car owners today simply don't have the tools or skills necessary to complete a full service safely and effectively. Electronic control units and electronic fuel injections have made cars easier to tune up and keep in shape, but only if you have the right computer equipment to do so. To get the job done right, it's best to trust in the experience and skills of a good mechanic.
It could save your life
There are numerous checks that we should make as car owners. But, hands up – not everyone 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 bubble under, 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.
How long will a 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:
- Interim service - this is a less extensive service, intended to be carried out every 6 months or 6,000 miles and should take around 1.5 hours
- Full service - this is a comprehensive service, designed to be carried out around every 12 months or 12,000 miles and should take around 3 hours to complete
How often should I have my car serviced?
How often you should have your car serviced depends on several factors, including:
Age of your vehicle
Make and model of your vehicle
How it's used - on rural roads or urban roads, average number of passengers, etc.
How many miles it racks up annually
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 get a service reminder on your dashboard.
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 you may need more regular servicing.