Car servicing is a vital part of car maintenance if you’re looking to keep your vehicle running smoothly. Here, we look at the frequently asked questions about car servicing so that you can make sure you’re taking the right steps to keep your vehicle in tip top condition and minimise any hassle.
What is Car Servicing?
Car servicing refers to regular maintenance of a vehicle, such as checking oil level, brake fluid and other fluids, replacing parts like spark plugs or brake pads, and giving the engine a tune-up. It also includes performing safety inspections to check for any potential problems and ensuring components such as brakes, clutches, exhausts and tyres are in good working order.
The Typical Checklist for Servicing a Car
The typical checklist for servicing a car should consist of the following:
- Careful inspection of the exterior condition of the car’s bodywork for rust or damage
- Checking each tyre is correctly inflated and is not damaged, worn or suffering from a slow puncture
- Checking wiper blades and replacing if cracked or smearing water droplets across the windscreen (front and rear)
- Dipping the dipstick to check oil levels and topping up (or if required completely replacing) the oil
- Inspecting brake pads for wear and tear including cracks and word out pads
- Checking the exhaust system to ensure securely held in place and no leaks
- Checking electrical connections and battery charge levels
- Adjustment of valve clearances within the engine (tappets)
- Headlights, brake lights and indicators all checked working correctly and replacing bulbs as necessary
- Replacement of spark plugs or filters if required
- Inspection of air conditioning to ensure it works correctly and cools the interior of the car
- A safety inspection to ensure that other components are in good working order including doors, windows, sunroofs, instruments displays, switches and more
- An overall assessment of the car’s performance to ensure it is running at its maximum potential
When Should You Service Your Car?
It’s recommended that you service your vehicle at least once a year or every 12,000 miles (whichever comes first). This will vary depending on the type of car you have and how you drive it, so it’s a good idea to consult your owner’s manual for more specific recommendations.
Some cars may need servicing at lower mileage intervals – typically very high sports performance cars like the Audi RS4 whereas a family VW Golf with a diesel engine may go 18,000 miles or more with “long life” servicing.
Why is Car Servicing Important?
Regular servicing ensures that all components are functioning correctly which reduces wear-and-tear on the engine and other mechanical elements, helping them last longer and providing improved fuel efficiency. Having your car serviced regularly can also help catch any small issues before they become bigger more costly problems which could put lives as risk, as well as cause extensive damage to your car over time.
Safety should always be at the forefront when it comes to having your car serviced!
Is it Ok to Skip Servicing and Save Money?
No, definitely not, it usually turns out to be a false economy and costs drivers more in the long run, certainly if things go wrong if it’s down to a lack of servicing then faults in our experience are usually more serious and very likely more expensive.
Even if you’re “lucky” and skip services and nothing goes wrong many potential buyers of your car will be wary if you’re not able to show any receipts for servicing. Additionally a lack of servicing records can end up with your car being worth far less than one with a good service history.
What Does a Typical Car Service Include?
A typical car service will include an inspection of your vehicle’s exterior condition and all its mechanical components. The inspection will check things like tyre pressure and tread depth, engine oil levels and other fluids, wiper blades condition, brakes and exhaust systems – just to name a few.
Depending on the type of service being carried out there may also be adjustments made to valve clearances within the engine as well as replacement of any necessary parts like spark plugs or filters if required.
How Much Does It Cost to Service a Car?
The exact cost for servicing a car depends largely on what type of work needs doing during the service itself but typically you should expect to pay around £50-£150 for most standard services with prices varying depending on what type/make/ model etc.
Luxury high performance cars like Aston Martin’s, Porsches, Ferraris usually cost more to service than your usual Ford, VW or Skoda. Make sure when buying a car you take into account the service charges to keep it road worthy.
If additional work is needed beyond normal servicing then costs can be significantly higher so always check with mechanics beforehand what exactly will be included in any quoted price before committing to any work being done.
What can Car Owners do at Home?
As a car owner you can take some simple steps at home to help keep your pride and joy in a safe and good condition:
- Make sure you check your tyre pressure regularly – every week ideally – and look for signs of wear and tear such as bald spots, cuts, cracks and bulges.
- Check oil levels and top up as necessary – don’t skimp and get cheap oil, buy the best oil for your car!
- Check both front and rear wipers and replace them if needed though we say every 12 to 24 months at least.
- Visually inspect brakes, headlights, tail-lights, indicators and fog lights. Make sure they’re clean and not letting water in.
- Check fuses and lights in the dash to see if any need replacing.
- Keep your car clean – certainly in Winter when roads are gritted; road salt can rot your brake discs and pads if not washed off promptly!
Can I have my new car serviced at an independent garage or does it have to be carried out by a main dealer?
You can take your new car to either a UK main dealer or an independent garage for servicing. The main dealers will usually tell you they have the latest software and tools available, as well as access to official parts which may be more expensive than those at an independent garage. It’s ultimately up to you which option you choose, but both are acceptable ways of having your car serviced as long as your independent garage can prove they fitted manufacturer approved parts. Many independent garages have had to invest in the latest technologies to ensure they can keep up to speed with working on new cars coming to the market.
What is a reasonable amount per hour for garage labour?
Modern vehicles possess countless advanced features, such as sensors and electronic control units that are designed to reduce emissions, allow more reliable operation of safety systems, and help improve the stability and performance of the car while driving.
Experienced, skilled technicians employed by franchised garages usually require rigorous and compulsory training provided by the car manufacturers. These courses are mostly paid for by the dealer and can be costly, increasing their rates for labour.
Independently owned garages – though usually part of a quality network like Bosch – are not placed under the same pressure from vehicle manufacturers to maintain prestigious premises (lots of metal and glass!) with top end customer facilities and may be able to charge less than half the labour rate of their franchised counterparts.
Also labour rates change dependent on what part of the country you are in. A car service technician working in London will likely be on a lot more money than a mechanic working in Middlesbrough where the cost of living is much lower.
If you’re not sure then we recommend shopping around with both independent and franchised garages in your area to see who offers the best rates, but do remember it’s about value and experience and not the cheapest price. We do also suggest you check reviews on the garages too!
My cam belt replacement quote seems expensive – why?
Cam belts, also known as timing belts, are REALLY important components of a car engine. They link the crankshaft and camshaft and control when the timing valves open and close. Over time, cam belts can become worn down from normal wear-and-tear, which can cause them to become less efficient or even break.
It’s important to have your car’s cam belt changed as per manufacturer recommendations in order to keep your engine running properly and prevent REALLY expensive damage or repairs.
The price might seem expensive but to change a cam belt does required more time than changing brake pads so does incur a higher price. Still, it’s cheaper than gambling and hoping it won’t break, if it does, a broken cam belt can cost you a whole replacement engine, it’s just not worth the risk to NOT change it.
My car has a catalytic converter – how long should it last?
The recommended replacement interval for catalytic converters is around 80,000 to 100,000 miles. However, this can vary depending on the type of vehicle and how you drive your car. It’s a good idea to consult your car’s owner manual or a qualified mechanic to get an exact figure based in mileage or age of the vehicle.
Why does a catalytic converter need replacing?
Catalytic converters can fail for several reasons. The most common is age, as the converter will eventually wear out after years of use. Other common causes of failure are using fuel that is too low in quality, failing to replace a faulty oxygen sensor, and contamination from oil or coolant leaking into the exhaust system. It’s also important to make sure your car is serviced regularly, as a bad spark plug could cause the converter to overheat and fail prematurely.
My diesel powered car has a problem with the DPF – how do I fix it?
Diesel Particulate Filters (DPFs) can play up for several reasons. Common causes of failure *usually* begin due to driving conditions that do not allow the filter to reach high enough temperatures for an extended period of time to regenerate, using fuel with a low rating, and excessive soot accumulation due to operating under full load and poor quality oil. Additionally, damage or clogging caused by debris entering the exhaust system can also cause DPF issues.
To fix a DPF issue, the first step is to identify the cause of the problem. Common solutions may include regular or forced regeneration cycles (i.e driving the car at motorway speeds for at least 30 minutes), using higher quality diesel fuel, and using a DPF cleaning kit. If the DPF is damaged beyond repair, it will need to be replaced.
It’s important that any solutions are carried out in conjunction with professional advice from a qualified mechanic who is familiar with DPF’s.
If you have any other questions about car servicing please do get in touch, we’d be delighted to answer them for you!