How often should you service your car?
Take the hassle out of staying roadworthy
Giving your car a regular service protects you from unexpected breakdowns and surprise repair costs. But how regularly does the average vehicle need to be serviced? Here’s everything you need to know.
How often should I get my vehicle serviced?
Most people should be getting their cars serviced once every 12 months. That’s based on the average person driving a standard car without clocking up too much mileage every year. If you’re a high-mileage driver, you want to be getting a smaller interim service every six months or so.
The kind of vehicle you drive will also affect how often you need it serviced. If you’re servicing an electric vehicle (EV), for example, it’s going to be a different experience compared to a petrol or diesel car. Motorbikes should be serviced every six months or after 6,000 miles.
Some newer vehicles can detect when something on board might need looking at. If you get an alert before your car is due its next checkup, it’s a good idea to call for an interim service and get the issue inspected.
What happens in a car service?
The experience of getting your car serviced depends on what you’re driving and how in-depth the service is going to be. We’ll cover the different types of vehicle servicing in a moment, but the overall process is similar.
You’ll arrive at the garage and hand your car over to the engineer to carry out the checks. The length of time you’ll wait can range from 30 minutes to a few hours, depending on the type of check. In any event, the outcome gets recorded in your car’s service book and you’ll be on your way.
There are a few things you can do to cut down on the time you spend at the garage:
• Remember your service book. This should be kept in the vehicle, but double check just in case. The results of the service and any works need to be recorded
• Empty your boot. If the service is going to check your spare tyre, you can make life easier for the engineer by cleaning out the boot where the tyre is normally kept, this makes things quicker for you too
• Bring any alloy wheel keys or locking nuts your car needs. If your car has alloys, these need to be removed for the engineer to test the suspension and steering
What types of vehicle services are there?
So, what’s involved in getting your car serviced? That depends on the level of service you choose. There are three common types; interim, full, and major servicing.
An interim car service is the most basic of the common service types. If you’re a high-mileage driver who covers 20,000 miles per year or more, we recommend an interim service every six months.
What happens in an interim car service? This entry-level checkup usually involves:
• Changing your oil and oil filter
• Making sure the steering, brakes, and clutch are working
• An inspection of your car’s lights, tyres, and windscreen wipers
• Lubricating major moving parts
• Topping up engine and brake fluids
• Checking for leaks
• A visual inspection of the whole vehicle
Depending on the engineer carrying out the work, an interim service could include anywhere up to 50 checks in total and usually takes around half an hour. If the engineer spots any major problems that need fixing, it will take longer. However, regular servicing should catch issues before they become serious.
A full service is for regular drivers who cover an average of 12,000 miles per year. If you’re only racking up that kind of mileage, it’s recommended you give your car a full service every 12 months. It includes everything from the interim service, plus some more in-depth checks like:
What happens in a full car service?
• Changing the air filter
• Changing the fuel filter or spark plugs
• A close inspection of the brakes, wheel bearings, and shock absorbers
• Full tests of the electrics
• Checks on the air conditioning
• Radiator and coolant hose inspections
All in all, a full service could include around 75 different checks or more.
A major service is the most thorough type of vehicle servicing. It’s recommended every 24 months in place of your car’s full service for that year. Your car will undergo all the tests you’d see from an interim and full service, plus some extras.
These usually include having some parts replaced. It’s a good idea to change your brake fluid and cabin filter every couple of years, for example, and that would happen as part of a major service. This is due to simple wear and tear on these parts; even if you’re the most careful driver in the world things will get run down sooner or later.
Why should I service my car?
Servicing your car at regular intervals isn’t a legal requirement (unlike an MOT, which we’ll cover in a moment). Your vehicle’s manufacturer will recommend when it’s a good idea to get your specific vehicle checked, but those are just recommendations.
So, why go to the hassle and expense of servicing your car? Well, mostly because it’s even more of a hassle to break down. Problems can arise even if you take exceptionally good care of your vehicle; regular servicing can spot potential issues before they get serious enough to cause harm.
If you plan ahead, you can make sure your car gets serviced at the most convenient intervals for you. Signing up to a car service plan lets you know exactly how much it’s going to cost and when you’ll have to pay.
Is an MOT the same as a service?
No. A Ministry of Transport (MOT) test is legally required every 12 months on cars aged three years or more. Driving without a valid MOT can land you with a fine of £1,000, which becomes £2,500 if your car has been deemed ‘dangerous’ on its last MOT test.
On the other hand, servicing isn’t a legal requirement but it is a really good idea. The cost of dealing with an unexpected breakdown could potentially be much higher than that of getting your car checked at regular intervals. A service will spot anything that might take you off the road, and replace parts which often wear out.
Get your car serviced and stay on the road
Lookers can make sure your car stays at its best with regular servicing carried out by qualified experts. Whatever you drive, however many miles you’ve got on the clock, our team can keep you moving.