Without knowing what a car service includes, it’s hard to imagine the benefits, isn’t it?
Will it keep me safe? Can it save me money? Will it improve my fuel efficiency? Is it essential? Will it make it easier to sell my car? These are all valid questions. And luckily for you, we have the answers.
In this post, we'll give you a complete rundown on a full service. We'll look at what it involves, when you should get one, how much it costs and lots more.
So let’s get going.
What is a car service?
There are three types of car service: interim, full and major. The number of checks and changes included in each one separates them. (But more on that later.)
The point of a service is to check the condition of your car, unlike an MOT test which focuses on safety. At the end of a service, if there are any, you’ll be given a list of all the things that need repairing or replacing. This could be anything from general wear and tear to a low-level fluid.
Having your car serviced regularly will help keep it running smoothly, and save you money on costly repairs that are brought about by ignoring problems and skipping services.
What does a full service include?
A full car service is smack bang in the middle of the three services in terms of what’s checked. It can involve up to 80 checks, including:
- Check external lights (Headlights, brake lights, indicators)
- Check instrument warning lamps
- Check horn
Internal / Vision
- Check windscreen wipers and washers (Condition and operation)
- Top up screen wash (if required)
- Check & advise on pollen filter condition
- Check windscreen for chips and cracks
- Check mirror condition inside and outside
- Check number plate
- Check seat belts
- Drain engine oil
- Replace oil filter
- Refill with fresh oil
- Replace air filter
- Check and advise on general oil leaks
- Check coolant level and top-up
- Advice on antifreeze strength
- Check radiator and coolant hoses for condition and leaks
- Check condition and tension of auxiliary drive belts
- Visual check fuel system + tank (if visible)
- Check timing belt replacement intervals and advise
- Check AdBlue
- Check/advise brake fluid condition and report
- Top up brake fluid if required
- Visual check of brake pads, disks, pipes, hoses and callipers
- Check operation of the hand brake
Wheels & Tyres
- Check tyre condition and tyre depths
- Check and adjust tyre pressures
Steering & Suspension
- Check the condition of road springs
- Check power steering fluid reservoir for leaks and top up
- Check steering/suspension, steering rack gaiters, shock absorbers and wheel bearings
- Visually check exhaust smoke (diesel)
- Visually check and advise on the condition of the exhaust
- Check drive shaft gaiters for security and report leaks
- Check clutch fluid level (if applicable)
- Check transmission oil leaks
- Reset vehicle service light where applicable
- Stamp service book
When should I get a full service?
Ideally, you should get a full service every year. Or every 12,000 miles, whichever comes first. If you’re racking up a fair few miles each month, we also recommend — as do all automotive specialists — an interim service every six months.
This will keep your car running smoothly and help identify anything that could lead to a future breakdown. Now let’s look at how long you’ll be without your car, shall we?
How long does a full service take?
A full service takes around 3 hours to complete. If you drop your car off in the morning, you should get it back before the end of the day.
And remember, you can combine your service with an MOT to save time and money. But expect your car to be in the garage for an entire day.
Why should I have my car service?
1. It’s different to an MOT
An MOT and a service are two completely different things. An MOT is a safety check whereas a service checks for worn components. While a service will look for things that can lead to a breakdown, an MOT won’t. And that’s why you need both!
2. Save money on more serious repairs
Repairing a fault early on will save you money long term. Paying for a service and a minor repair is a lot less expensive than replacing an entire part. For example, if you don’t change your oil, you risk damaging the engine. This is far more expensive than a simple oil change.
3. Save money on fuel
Things like an oil change and filter replacement can increase your car’s MPG. And thus, save you money on fuel.
4. Improve your car's lifespan
The point of a service is to keep your car in the best shape for as long as possible. So it’s no surprise that regular services will extend your car’s life.
5. You'll make more money when you sell your car
A car with a full service history is worth more than one without. Giving the new owner peace of mind that the car has been looked after will pay off — literally. Plus, it’s not uncommon for garages to refuse cars that don’t have a service history.
6. It helps with your insurance
If you have an accident and your car is a write-off, your insurer can use your car’s service history to estimate its value. Having a full service history can increase the value.
An overview of the three types of car service
While this is a blog about full service, you should know about the other types — especially if you’re new to the motoring world. As well as making sure you pick the right service the first time, it’ll put you in good stead for the future too. So with that in mind, here’s more info about the three types of car service.
An interim service is the most basic of the bunch. And as you'd expect from a service that's every six months, the checks and changes focus on every day driving. So alongside brake, tyre, steering, suspension and fluid checks, you also get an oil change and replacement oil filter.
When considering whether to book an interim service, look at how many miles you cover each year. If it's above the average, it's worthwhile booking an interim service every six months. Also, look at the type of trips you make. Short trips don't allow the engine oil to get hot, so an oil change and replacement filter are essential to prevent permanent engine damage.
No matter what you decide, an interim service should never be instead of a full service. Always as well as.
A full service is the most popular of the three and includes up to 80 checks! It's a yearly service (or every 12,000 miles) that every car needs, despite how many miles it’s done.
Like an interim service, you get an oil change and a replacement oil filter. Where it differs is that you also get an air filter change and fluid top-ups — along with more extensive checks of your car's engine, brakes, drive belts, heating and cooling system.
Skimping on a full service can lead to a breakdown in the future. Not only this, but it can cost you more money long term as problems worsen.
As its name suggests, a major service is the most extensive of the three. It’s a two-yearly service (or every 24,000 miles) and includes up to 80 checks. As well as everything in a full service, you also get a brake fluid change, air pollen filter replacement, spark plugs replacement, automatic transmission oil level inspection and a battery test.
A major service checks a lot of vital components that are missing from a full service. And thus, every car must have a major service every two years.
Leave it to the professionals
And finally, don’t attempt to service your own car! Most cars — especially new ones — feature complex parts only highly skilled technicians know how to service. Yes, use our tips for maintaining your car when you’re using it less, but don’t attempt anything we’ve spoken about in this blog at home.
To make sure your service is done safely and correctly, leave it to the professionals at First Stop. Book a service by locating your local garage here.