A hand holding a wrench fixing a car engine

What Service Does My Car Need?

As you prepare to take your car down to the garage for a regular checkup, you may be asking yourself “what service does my car need”? With a range of available options to you, you’d be forgiven for forgetting exactly what you need this time around.

What do Different Types of Service Entail?

When you go to the garage, there are three options available to you, although the vast majority of services will be one of only two types; “interim” or “full”.

So what differentiates these services? Let’s look in greater detail:

Interim Service

An interim service is recommended for drivers who put a large number of miles on their cars across the year. As a general rule of thumb, if you are driving around 2,000 miles a month, or more, then you should be looking at getting an interim service every six months. This is because the more wear and tear you put on a car, the more likely the parts are going to need replacing.

More extensive than an MOT, but the lowest of regular service options, an interim service should take around 90 minutes and includes:

  • Brakes – A check of the brake pads, fluid levels and the handbrake
  • Fluid levels – Top ups of engine oil, antifreeze/coolant and clutch fluid
  • Oil Filter
  • Suspension
  • Wheels – checking wheel alignment and wheel bearings
  • Gearbox & Clutch – a check to ensure it’s working correctly
  • Shock Absorbers – carrying out a bounce test
  • Spark plugs – a check against the mileage, potentially replacing if necessary
  • Fuel filter – replacement carried out if correct interval
  • Exterior – checking for any damage to the bodywork and all lights

Full Service
A full service is best for drivers completing an average number of miles across the year and is a comprehensive check of almost every element of your car, comprising around 60-70 individual checks. As a result you’re going to be looking at approximately three hours without your car during the service, so make sure to prepare for a significant portion of the day without your car.

While your car is with the mechanics, they will check the following items, replacing or repairing any parts that require it.

Where an interim service will just check up on the fluids, a full service will do all of this and more, including carrying out a full oil change and filter replacement, the air filter and pollen filter will be replaced, the radiator and air conditioning will be checked over along with a full check for any leakages.

Much like the interim service, your mechanic will check the pads and discs for any wear, and will top up brake fluid and check the handbrake.

Pressures, tread depth and any unusual bulges or rips will be checked over to see if you need any replacements.

Steering and Suspension
Again, similar to the interim test, the mechanic will carry out a bounce test, check for any leaks and test both the wheel alignment and bearings. Power steering fluid will also be topped up where needed.

Your windscreen will be checked for any chips or cracks, as well as checking the wipers and washers are working correctly. Screen wash will also be topped up.

A visual inspection of your exhaust for any signs of rust, damage, cracks or corrosion.

Your full system, including the battery, starter and alternator will all be thoroughly checked for any signs of damage or leakage.

All of your interior lights will be checked along with checking your seats for any rips or tears and making sure the seatbelts are working correctly.

As well as checking for any clear damage, the mechanic will also test your door locks and hinges, as well as making sure the number plate is clearly visible.

Major Service
One of the rarer service types, the major service is aimed for those who have had a full service for the last couple of years. While it may seem a little unnerving to have an even larger bill the next time you visit the garage, there are a number of parts that are likely to have worn down to the point of replacement that wouldn’t normally get replaced in a full service. Like the full service this is likely to take at least three hours, potentially even up to four.

So what does the major service cover that a full service doesn’t? In addition to everything covered in the full service, your major service will also include a brake fluid change, a cabin filter replacement and a change of spark plugs. It is recommended to carry out a major service every two years, or 24,000 miles – whichever comes first.


How Much do Different Services Cost?

Car service costs will differ depending on where you go, so it’s always worth shopping around. For chains such as Halfords or Kwik-Fit there will be a set price across the country, but your local garage may be able to provide a more competitive price.

For ballpark figures of costs, you’re likely to be spending from £90 on an interim service, from around £150 on a full service and upwards of £200 for a major service.

What Type of Service Does my Car Need?

So now you know what each service is, do you need an interim or full service? The simplest way to decide is to have a look at your current service history. When did it last take place, and how many miles have you clocked up since then? If your service took place just six months ago, and you have driven in the region of 6,000 miles, then you’re probably only going to be needing an interim service. However if your last service was closer to a year ago or you’ve been driving for around 10-12,000 miles, it’s time to book yourself in for a full service.

If your car is due a service and you just know that there’s so much wrong with it that you’re not sure you can afford the work, then maybe it’s time to cut your losses, send it off for scrap and put money into your bank account instead of emptying it. Simply get in touch with the team at Scrap Car Comparison and see just how much your car could be worth today.

For more useful tips when it comes to owning a car, from servicing to carrying out your own maintenance and everything else you need to know to keep both you and your wheels on the road, visit our Car Care hub.

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