Every so often you’ll be driving along and your car will flag up with a little dashboard warning saying “service soon” or you’ll get a text alert from your local garage saying your next service is due. But what actually happens between the time you drop your car off and you come back to a large invoice, besides your visit to the local coffee shop? Let us talk you through everything you need to know about your next car service.
What is a car service?
A car service is a regular health check for your car, where a mechanic will go over a number of key components in your car and make sure they are in the condition they should be, often topping up important fluids or replacing parts that have been subjected to large amounts of wear and tear since its last visit.
What does a car service include?
What’s included in a car service depends on where you’ve taken the car and also what level of service you are having carried out. Most garages will provide either an interim or full service option, while some will offer an even more comprehensive major service option. Each level will go through some of the more common checks, while each step up sees more complex work added each time. You can expect all three levels of service to provide visual checks for any damages to the body or wheels, and will also inspect the brakes and gearbox to ensure everything is working correctly.
How often should you service a car?
All cars should have a full service every 12 months, or 12,000 miles, whichever comes sooner. However, it is good practice to get your car checked over with an interim service six months after your full service, or 6,000 miles later, to make sure that your car is always in the best condition possible when out on the roads. If you’re looking to get a major service, then these are usually carried out every two years.
Interim service vs Full service
When you book your car in for its service, the garage will often ask whether you’re looking for an interim or a full service on this occasion, although some will tell you which one you are due. Your full service should be carried out every 12 months no matter what the mileage and we’ll detail what goes into this later, but an interim service helps bridge the gap between your annual services. Rather than replace an annual service, it simply helps to find and address any issues that may have come around since your car was last seen.
Full car service checklist
So what actually happens when you take your car in for a full service? Below is a list of all the checks that you can expect your car to go through when you drop it off at the garage for its annual check-up.
- General Checks
- External lights (headlights, brake lights and indicators)
- Dashboard warning lights
- Internal checks
- General condition of the windscreen and washers
- Condition of the pollen filter – if a replacement is required you could be charged extra
- Windscreen check for cracks and chips
- Condition of all the mirrors
- Condition of the number plate.
- Condition of all seat belts
- Engine Checks
- Replacement of oil filter
- If there’s any oil leaks you will be informed
- Replacement of air filter
- Check of the strength of antifreeze
- Condition of radiator and coolant hoses and checks for leaks
- Condition and tension of the auxiliary belts – but not the timing belt
- Inspection of fuel tank and system, if visible
- Check of the last timing belt change and advise if needed – additional cost will be added if a new belt is needed
- Fluid top-ups
- Brake fluid
- Power steering fluid
- AdBlue – diesels only
- Advise on the condition of brake fluid and suggest replacement if needed – additional cost for new brake fluid
- Inspect pads for wear
- Inspect discs for wear
- Visual check of all hoses and pipes
- Check handbrake operation
- Visual check of security and if any leaks coming from callipers
- Wheels and tyres
- Condition of tyres
- Tread depth
- Check and adjust tyre pressures
- Steering and Suspension
- Condition of road springs
- Check of all components in the steering and suspension systems
- Condition of steering rack gaiters
- Condition of shock absorbers
- Wheel bearings check
- Advise you on the condition of your exhaust
- Smoke check – diesel vehicles only
- Drive system checks
- Check of clutch fluid, if needed
- Check for leaks of transmission oil
- Security of gaiters and checks for leaks
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