How often should you service your car?

How often should you service your car?

Staying on top of your car’s maintenance schedule is vital for keeping the vehicle in good working order. This includes taking your car for repairs, replacing parts as needed – and having it serviced periodically.

A car service may include routine inspections, maintenance and minor repairs to ensure everything is working as it should be. Regular servicing can help to preserve your motor’s value, enabling you to get a better price for it when it’s time to sell your car.

So, how often should you take your car for a service? The answer will depend on a variety of factors such as your car’s make and model, your driving habits – and whether you’re seeing dashboard warning lights.

Read our complete guide below for tips and insights around this topic.

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How often does my car need to be serviced?

As a general rule, cars should be serviced at least once a year or every 12,000 miles (depending on which comes first). So, if your annual mileage is high, your car may need servicing a little more frequently.

What’s more, if your car is under warranty (or you want a manufacturer’s service), you should make sure that you follow the manufacturer’s servicing schedule. The recommended service intervals vary from model to model, so check the owner’s manual to find yours. Keeping up with the servicing schedule will help ensure your warranty remains valid.

In addition to the ‘fixed’ service schedule, which is predetermined by the manufacturer, it is also important to pay attention to any dashboard lights that may indicate that a service is needed.

Modern cars are capable of monitoring fluid levels and informing drivers when they are depleted. If you see the check engine, malfunction, coolant temperature, tyre pressure or low oil pressure warning light, this could indicate that your car needs a service – even if it is currently between scheduled services.

A visit to the garage based on a pressing issue such as a dashboard warning (rather than a time or mileage-based interval) is known as a ‘flexible service’.

Types of car services

The best option for your next service will depend on the following factors:

  • Your car’s age and mileage.
  • The type of service your car received at the last interval.

Here’s a breakdown of the different types of car services:

Regular maintenance

Regular maintenance typically includes:

  • Checking the hoses and pipes that transport fluids.
  • Changing the oil or oil filter.
  • Checking the brake fluid, power steering fluid and radiator coolant.
  • Checking other fluids and filters.
  • Checking the brake pads.

During a regular maintenance service, the mechanic will top up any fluids that are depleted. They may also recommend repairs or replacement work, if beneficial.

Interim service

  • An interim service should be completed every 6 months or 6,000 miles, depending on which comes first.
  • Whilst not as stringent as a full service, having an interim service can help to nip minor issues in the bud before they become more serious.
  • An interim service has 50 points of inspection, may include an engine oil change - and a new oil filter being fitted.

Full service

  • A full service is the most comprehensive service available and should be completed every 12 months or 12,000 miles – whichever comes first.
  • A full service includes changing the engine oil, oil filters and air filters.
  • The mechanic will look at the crucial components of the car and inspect the safety and mechanical systems.
  • Both interim and full services may involve the replacement of items with a limited lifespan.

Manufacturer service

If you own a higher spec vehicle, you may prefer to opt for a manufacturer's service at one of their own garages. The mechanic will service the car as above but may make their own recommendations for manufacturer-approved repairs and parts.

What are the benefits of regular car servicing?

  • Helps to ensure the car is safe to drive.
  • Saves on repair bills; developing issues will be spotted early, before they are costlier to fix.
  • Reduces the risk of breakdowns.
  • Saves fuel, as replacing filters will improve fuel efficiency.
  • Preserves your car’s resale value.
  • Your car will be easier to sell. Having a full service history can reassure buyers that the vehicle has been well looked after.

How much does a car service cost?

The cost of a service is determined by your chosen garage or dealership. If you have bought a car directly from a manufacturer or dealership, you may have a service and MOT package included, but this is something you will need to check in the car’s documentation.

Prices at local garages will vary - and some may charge less than the approved manufacturer dealerships or nationwide stores. However, if you choose a nationwide servicing centre, prices will be more regulated, as they will have a set price list. Several factors are considered when pricing a service for a vehicle, such as the age, make and model of the car - and the type of service required.

Is a service different to an MOT?

  • A service differs from an MOT, as MOT testing is a legal requirement for any car over 3 years old, whereas servicing is not mandatory.
  • An MOT is a test to ensure that cars are safe and roadworthy. You cannot drive a car without a valid MOT certificate. Find out when your next MOT is due using our free MOT check tool.
  • Whilst car servicing is voluntary, we strongly recommend keeping on top of your servicing schedule. This will help to ensure that your car runs smoothly and reliably for years to come.