Car servicing: all you need to know

Lesson Type
Last updated: 22 Aug 2019

Getting your car serviced can seem like just another expense to add on to the cost of motoring, but keeping your engine and vehicle maintained and in good working order is essential for your safety and for your pocket. It's not enough just to get your head around learning to drive in your driving lessons - you'll also need to brush up on the practical side of life in the driver's seat!

What is a car service?

A car service is different to an MOT. Whilst an MOT is a legal requirement, car servicing is up to the owner. An MOT checks that your vehicle is in a legal and roadworthy condition, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s in good condition.

There are three kinds of car service: an oil change, an interim service and a full service. Your oil should be checked regularly and changed as often as your car manual advises. An interim service should be done roughly every 6,000 miles or every 6 months, and will check your oil, fluids, lights, tyres as well as additional checks.

What do mechanics check?

When you take your car for a full service, the mechanic should check:

  • Oil and oil filter replacement
  • Fluid levels
  • Brake fluid
  • Anti-freeze
  • Windscreen wash
  • Power steering fluid
  • Lights
  • Windscreen wipers
  • Battery condition
  • Charging system
  • Exhaust emissions
  • Tyre tread and pressure
  • Full brake check
  • Steering
  • Shock absorbers
  • Suspension
  • Auxiliary drive belt
  • Wheel alignment
  • Wheel bearing
  • Wheel balance

They should also replace:

  • Fuel filer (Diesel cars)
  • Spark plugs (Petrol cars)
  • Air filter

Why does my car need a service?

Getting your vehicle serviced ensures the engine keeps running smoothly, that you’re vehicle remains safe and that you keep your car going for longer. When it comes to car servicing, spending money in the short term helps you save money in the long term.

How often should I get a service?

Your car manual will advise how often you should get a service. With modern cars, it’s usually advised to get one every 9,000 or 12,000 miles, but if your annual mileage is less than this, you should make sure you get your car serviced at least once a year.

Where shall I get my car serviced?

Contact a licensed garage and find out how much a service is going to cost. If you have a new car which is still under warranty, you’ll need to make sure the dealer servicing your vehicle uses the correct fluids and parts, as specified by your car’s manufacturer.

The cost of a car service will depend upon the garage and whether you’re having a basic, an interim or a full service. Before booking your car in for a service, check with the garage that they won’t carry out any extra repairs without contacting you first.