How long does a car service take?
See how regular maintenance saves you time
You want to protect your car and secure its value. Getting regular vehicle services lets you do that. But how long does it take? Let’s see how much of your day you’ll need to put aside if you want to stay on the road.
How long will it take to service my car?
The time it takes to service a vehicle depends on how detailed the service is and the vehicle being serviced. Motorbike and electric vehicle servicing are their own topic. Today, we’re talking about servicing regular cars as driven by most drivers.
There are three common types of car service, intended for different stages of your vehicle’s lifecycle:
• Interim services are the quickest at about half an hour, high-mileage drivers should get an interim service every three months
• Full services take roughly three hours, most drivers should get a full service annually
• Major services are the longest and most thorough at nearly four hours, they tend to happen every two or three years
Longer services are more likely to spot problems that need fixing. Fixing problems will add to the total length of the service; expect the possibility of some repairs and plan your day accordingly. Let’s see exactly what goes on at each level of service, and how that affects its duration.
How long does an interim car service take?
An interim car service takes about half an hour. Some garages will take your number and call you when they’re done. Others provide a waiting area. Either way, if the engineer doesn’t spot anything seriously wrong with your vehicle, you can drive off right away.
If the service spots any major problems, they might need to be fixed on the spot. That will add to the time it takes to service your car. Even though an interim service is the quickest and most straightforward type, it can still consist of anywhere up to 50 individual checks.
These checks include:
• A thorough visual inspection of the vehicle
• Replacing your oil filter and the oil itself
• Checking clutch, steering, and brakes
• Testing your tyres, windscreen wipers, and lights
• Giving your car’s major moving parts a good lubricating
• Filling up the fluids in your engine and brakes
• Inspecting for any fluid leaks
Interim services are ideal for drivers who clock up a lot of mileage, over 20,000 miles each year. If you don’t do that much travelling in your car, you’re better off with an annual full service.
How long does a full car service take?
A full car service takes about three hours. Again, if it picks up an issue that needs to be corrected before you can drive away then you’ll be spending a bit longer at the garage. How much longer depends on the severity of the problem.
Plan your day to include the possibility of a slightly longer stay. A full service will pick up on things that quicker services miss, it consists of about 75 items. It includes all the same checks as the interim service, plus:
• Changing your car’s air filter, fuel filter, and spark plugs
• Testing the radiator and coolant hose
• In-depth tests of shock absorbers, brakes, and wheel bearings
• Close inspection of the electrics and air conditioning
The full service is the most common type. Average drivers who do around 12,000 miles each year should get a full service every 12 months, unless it’s time for a major service.
How long does a major car service take?
A major car service takes about four hours. It’s the most in-depth and comprehensive type of service commonly available on regular vehicles, so it’s also the most time-consuming. That’s because a major service includes replacing some parts no matter what condition they’re in.
For example, a major service will replace your brake fluid and cabin filter since it’s recommended to swap them out every two or three years due to wear and tear. On top of these replacements, your car will be subject to all the checks from a full service.
Depending on how often you use your car, you’ll typically need to put it in for a major service every two to three years. Regular drivers should do it every 24 months, in place of the car’s full service for that year. If you use your car less frequently, a major service every three years will do the trick.
Can I skip servicing my car?
It might feel like a hassle to take three or four hours out of your day to get your car checked; do you have to service your vehicle?
It’s certainly not a legal requirement. UK law requires an MOT every 12 months on cars more than three years old, but a service is different to an MOT. Learn how long an MOT takes here.
Even though there’s nothing forcing you to get a service, responsible drivers should proactively maintain their cars. The inconvenience and cost of your vehicle breaking down will be much greater than that of an annual service. There are also safety considerations. Ideally an MOT will spot anything dangerous about your vehicle, but if problems emerge before your MOT is due, a service could spot them.
Overall, no you don’t have to service your car, but it’s a good idea.
A car service plan prepares you for the unexpected
If you opt for a fixed-price service plan, you can spread the cost of regularly servicing your car. You can also plan your time as efficiently as possible by knowing the exact date of your next service in advance.
These plans are a good idea for most drivers who clock up around 12,000 miles each year. Your car is subject to wear and tear, a service plan makes sure you won’t pay any unexpected costs for new parts. It helps protect your vehicle and, importantly, its resale value.
Find a car service garage near you
Before you book a service for your car or sign up for a service plan, do your homework. Find a garage that has a proven track record with your vehicle, along with plenty of positive reviews from your fellow drivers.
At Lookers, we’ve helped thousands of UK motorists protect their vehicles and secure maximum resale value when it’s time to exchange.