A car being serviced

How often should you service your car?

Making sure you keep your car regularly serviced is one of the simplest ways to keep your car running as smoothly and as trouble-free as possible, but just how regular should your services be? How do you know when to get your next service and why should you do it? Let us bring you the answers to all of your questions.

How often should I service my car?

Most manufacturers will suggest that you take your car in for a service every 12,000 miles, or once a year, whichever comes first. This is just a general figure, however, and it will change depending on your car and also how you drive it.

  • Regular maintenance – If you like to keep on top of your vehicle maintenance (and, let’s be honest, you should) then regular checks and top-ups or replacements of things like filters or oil, coolant and other fluids should be completed. This will prevent any damage or excess wear occurring in between your proper services or your annual MOT.
  • Interim service – It’s then a good idea to get your car into a garage for an interim service every six months or 6,000 miles, whichever comes first. This type of service will still involve a thorough (but not exhaustive) list of 50 different checks in and around your vehicle aiming to maintain its condition and pick up on any possible niggles that could grow into a serious problem. It will also feature an oil and oil filter change, along with the replacement of any parts that have a lifespan and have ‘expired’.
  • Full service – The full service is “the works” which, as we mentioned above, should be undertaken annually or at each 12,000 mile interval. Not only will you get the oil and oil filter change, you’ll also get new air filters along with the most thorough, in-depth check of your vehicle’s mechanical and safety components that is available. If you want to ensure your car isn’t struck down by a sudden mechanical failure part-way through the year, then you should absolutely keep track of when a full service is due.
  • Manufacturer service – You could also opt for a manufacturer service which, as the name suggests, is simply a service performed directly by the manufacture of your car at one of their dealerships or an approved garage. This way, your vehicle will be maintain to meet their own specs, and can often include other perks like an extension of the car’s warranty.

Not sure which type of service you need? Make the decision a little bit easier with a list of exactly what is checked during each one.

How to tell when my car service is due?

“When is my service due” is a question that most drivers think about multiple times a year. Most modern cars are equipped with all kinds of electronics that measure your vehicles performance, status and, of course, mileage. Combined, there are many ways for these features to let you know when a service is required.

  • Spanner/Wrench light – Your car’s onboard computer calculates how many miles have been driven since it was last serviced. Once the mileage limit has been reached, your service light – an illuminated spanner – will display on the dashboard.
  • Service stamps – Want to know when your car was last serviced to stick to your annual test timeframe? Your car’s handbook may have been stamped with the date and mileage the last time it was checked over, so take a look and see how long it’s been.
  • Other lights – If any other dashboard lights are illuminated, it means something is wrong. If you know you’re going to be due a service in the near future anyway, it might be worthwhile getting ahead of any more serious problems and doing it now.
  • Strange performance – Unusual performance abnormalities, like strange noises coming from the vehicle or a change in the way it runs or drives, could also indicate the need for an overall check of the car’s wellbeing.

Do you need to service your car every year?

It is best practice to ensure that you stick to your car’s service schedule. While you may think that your car can carry on perfectly fine and avoid paying another big fee to your garage, the longer gap between services will be putting extra strain on the mechanical parts of the car. Not only could you be driving your way to an early breakdown, but you will also find that you’re almost certainly voiding the warranty, if your vehicle is still under warranty, and also damaging the second hand value of the car as well.

That being said, no, you don’t really need to service your car every year – there are no legal requirements to do so.

What is the benefit of regular car servicing?

We’re not saying that your car is going to cough and splutter to the side of the road the moment you pass the point at which you should be taking the car in for a service, but keeping on top of your service schedule does greatly reduce your chances of a breakdown. This is how, along with other reasons it’s good to keep on top of it:

  • Spot warning signs – It allows you to pick up on any small issues that could grow into major malfunctions if not found early.
  • Smoother ride – Your car will run more smoothly and efficiently, making your journeys more enjoyable and perhaps even saving you a bit of money fuel.
  • Safety first – Regular servicing ensures that your car is safe to be on the road. This means you won’t have to worry about any fines from the authorities, nor will you need to stress about something dangerous occurring because your vehicle is in bad shape.
  • Warranty – As we mentioned above, getting your car regularly serviced can actually keep the warranty in tact.
  • Value boost – A car that’s well looked after will remain in a better condition for longer, which means it will depreciate slower.

What happens if you don’t service your car regularly?

Failing to service your vehicle in line with the recommended schedule could have some negative effects. In fact, it’s almost certain to impact your car in some minor ways, but could also lead to much more serious complications:

  • Road safety – The annual MOT test, which is compulsory, checks to make sure your car is safe to be considered road legal. However, it’s only considered as such at the moment the test is carried out. If you were to get into a minor bump on the way out of the test centre, it could suddenly become dangerous! Driving a dangerous vehicle can lead to big problems with the law and your insurance company. Regular servicing will pick up on any issues that might cause an MOT failure before it occurs, whilst also ensuring that your car remains road legal throughout the year.
  • Unchanged parts – Certain components, like oil and filters, should be changed regularly to prevent them from ‘going bad’. For example, oil that’s used for far too long will become thick and sludgy, causing serious problems inside your engine.
  • Longevity – It goes without saying that looking after your car will make it last longer. Forgetting or flat-out refusing to service your vehicle is like putting it on a fast track to the scrap heap!
  • Value for money – Skip your services and you’ll end up paying more money to keep your car on the road in the long run. Not only will your fuel efficiency likely drop, it’s also possible that you could end up paying more money for minor repairs here and there.
  • Selling it on – Similarly, keeping a car regularly serviced – with evidence of this – works wonders for its valuation when you’re looking to sell it. Buyers will almost always check a car’s service history before purchasing it, so a vehicle that’s been looked after will attract much more attention on the used car market.

Who can carry out a car service?

Typically, a car service will be carried out by a trained, professional mechanic. They will understand the checks that must be completed during the service, plus what is included in an MOT that can also be advised upon in advance. They will know the ins and outs of every vehicle they see and they’ll know how every individual part works. Most importantly though, they’ll also know how to identify parts that are not working properly or are showing signs of wear and tear, and they’ll know how to change those components too.

However, there’s no legal requirement for a professional mechanic to perform a service, which means you could do it yourself if you really wanted to and felt confident enough. That being said, it’s definitely not recommended unless you truly do know your way around a car.

Should you service your car if it’s not being driven?

Services aren’t a legal requirement even if you’re covering 100,000 miles every single year, so why would you need one if your car has been SORNed inside your garage for the last 12 months? Well, the truth is, you might not. Many of the parts will have retained their previous level of maintenance. Your tyres won’t have worn down and any of the moving metal parts within the vehicle will have suffered no wear at all.

But, leaving a car unused for a long time can cause it’s own host of problems. You might find that your battery has gone dead, especially if you haven’t turned the vehicle on at all. There might also be rust and other kinds of corrosion building up around the metalwork if it’s been kept out in the elements. Then, there’s the aforementioned sludge problem, which involves the motor oil in your car turning into a thick, gloopy mess. If you want to ensure your vehicle remains in the best condition possible, get it serviced… or at least know how to maintain it during its time off the road.

How much will a service cost?

Your service price will depend on what type of service you are booking in for (full vs interim service) and where you are in the country. However, as a general average , you can expect to pay around £140, plus any additional work or parts required, for a full service. Interim services, recommended to take place every six months, are slightly cheaper but do not replace a full service. Think of it as an investment, though; getting your car serviced can boost its overall value massively!

For more hints and tips on how to keep your car at its best, as well as ensuring your paperwork is also in order, visit our Car Care hub where we guide you through everything from servicing to driving convictions and everything else you’ll need to know during your driving career.

If your car’s latest service has flagged up a significant problem that’s going to cost much more than you’re prepared to spend, or that would make economical sense to do so, then perhaps it’s time to sell for salvage. Here at Scrap Car Comparison we can get you the very best price for your car, and one of our advisors would be more than happy to help you out. Get started today with our quick and simple scrap quote generator and see just how much money you could have by simply getting rid of your troubled car.

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