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Why you should get your vehicle serviced regularly

We all know getting your vehicle serviced is time consuming, laborious and, of course, expensive. It can often be tempting to keep putting it off. After all, it's not compulsory like an MOT. But does that mean we can ignore it altogether?

For the majority of motorists, the first thing they look at when buying a second-hand vehicle is its service history; in particular, vehicles with Full Service History (FSH). This means that the vehicle has been fully serviced since new. Service requirements are usually based on both age and mileage.

It Maintains Your Warranty

Firstly, if your vehicle is out of warranty, you can skip straight to point 2... But, for those of you who have a vehicle that is still under its manufacturer warranty, then you will want to make sure you service your vehicle on time, every time. Failing to do so may not only damage your vehicle, but also result in your manufacturer refusing to pay for repairs.

Your Vehicle Needs It

Vehicles are very complicated mechanical machines with a lot of moving parts. That means oils need to be maintained and changed regularly to keep everything running smoothly. Filters need to be renewed to stop dust and dirt getting into the oil. A quick tip, check the colour of your oil. If you see a thick black substance, then book a service immediately. The ideal colour is a nice golden brown.

It Keeps You Safe

The majority of services come with full vehicle health checks. This means the mechanics performing your service will also check the vehicle from top to toe, such as breaks, suspension and tyres, to make sure that the vehicle remains safe to operate.

Realistically does anyone really check their tyre tread every time they get in their vehicle? It's something we know we're supposed to do, but rarely have time for. Having a regular service is a good opportunity to check the tyres are both within the legal tread limit, and also don't have any uneven wear. Without regularly having all these checks you may be driving around in a dangerous vehicle. This is especially true with older vehicles where damage can easily occur between MOTs.

It Saves You Money

Yes, servicing a vehicle is expensive. But often you will recoup much of that cost back when you part-exchange or sell your vehicle privately. When part-exchanging a vehicle, the dealer will usually minus off the costs of any services that haven't been performed on the vehicle, as the majority of them will want to advertise the vehicle as having been fully serviced. So either way you end up paying for it, so it makes sense to do it when it's due.

Also, a more efficient engine will cost less to run. It's no secret that a tired, dirty engine with a lack of oil will burn far more fuel than one that has been looked after. It'll also be more sluggish and not as smooth to drive. Still thinking of skipping its next service?

Your Vehicle Will Last Longer

The better care you take of your vehicle, the longer it'll last. A vehicle that has been really well looked-after can last several years longer than one that hasn't. This could save you even more money in the long run as you won't need to upgrade quite so often. It can be much cheaper to keep a vehicle running longer than it is to buy a newer model. Let's not get started on depreciation...

How often should I service my car?

How often you have your vehicle serviced will depend on the manufacturer and the make and model of car you have. However, as a general rule it is recommended to service your car every 12,000 miles or every 12 months - whichever comes soonest.

Many modern cars will notify you when the service is due, so it’s important to book your car in when the warning sign comes up, even if it’s been less than 12 months or you’ve driven fewer than 12,000 miles.

What types of service are there?

Below is a list of the types of car service available, and what is typically involved. Please check with your garages for a definitive list of what is actually checked and carried out:

  • Interim Service - Every 6,000 miles or 6 months, whichever comes soonest
    New parts: Oil Filter
    Fluids: Engine Oil, Brake fluid, Power steering fluid, Battery fluid, Screen wash
  • Full Service - Every 12,000 miles or 12 months, whichever comes soonest
    New parts: As above but also: Air Filter
    Fluids: As above, but also: Transfer box oil, Manual transmission oil
  • Major Service - Each manufacturer will have their own bespoke service schedule. All the information you need should be in your car manual
    New parts: Spark plugs, Cabin/pollen filters

There are Service Plans Available

One of the problems with servicing is the cost often comes in a big lump sum - and it's usually a few hundred pounds or more! However, when buying a vehicle, whether new or second-hand, it's worth considering these costs and factoring them into the total cost of ownership of the vehicle.

Most new vehicles come with service plan options, where you can pay a fixed amount a month to include your next two or three services as part of the purchase. Similarly, even if you're buying second-hand then most manufacturers will still offer you service packages for your vehicle. It's often cheaper to do it this way than paying full price each time.

Is an MOT the same as a Service?

No. An MOT is a legally required certificate that you must obtain for your vehicle every 12 months (once it’s over 3 years old). In order to get a valid MOT certificate, your car must pass a series of safety tests at a registered MOT garage. For more information on what is checked in an MOT see our article What is an MOT, what is checked and when is it due?) If the vehicle fails the MOT test, then you are no longer legally allowed to drive it until mandatory repairs are made and it is able to pass another MOT test.

A service, however, is optional. It is simply periodic routine maintenance carried out on your vehicle that is recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. This maintenance helps to ensure the car is safe to drive, and prolongs the vehicle’s life as well as making it as efficient as possible. Ignoring vehicle servicing will damage the vehicle’s resale price (as servicing is logged and checked), damage the vehicle itself, and put the vehicle at risk of passing its next MOT test.

Where should I get my car serviced?

There’s no reason you have to choose a manufacturer dealership to get your vehicle serviced. There are a huge number of independent garages out there that will do a perfectly fine job of servicing (and MOTing) your vehicle without affecting its warranty or resale value. For more information on choosing a garage see our article 8 tips for choosing the right garage for your vehicle.

Conclusion

It's expensive and annoying, but keeping your vehicle well-serviced will save you money in the long run, make your vehicle more enjoyable to drive, and most importantly keep you safe.

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