Difference - interim and full service | First Stop Blog

What's the difference between an interim service and a full service?

Regular servicing is part and parcel of owning a car. But because it’s not a legal requirement (like an MOT), you’re probably wondering how often you need to have one. Likewise, what type of service to book. 

The two most popular types of service are interim service and full service. And today, we’re giving you a complete rundown on them both. By the end of this post, you’ll know how they are different and exactly what each one includes. 

So let’s get going, shall we? 

Interim service

An interim service is the most basic type of service. 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, it’s wise to look at how many miles you cover each year. If it’s above the average — currently 7,400 miles per year — it’s worth booking an interim service every six months to keep your car running smoothly. 

Look at the type of trips that you make too. Short trips aren’t great for your car, as they don't allow the engine oil to get hot. So if you make a lot of short journeys, an oil change and replacement filter are essential to prevent permanent engine damage. 

Remember, an interim service should never be instead of a full service. They go hand-in-hand to keep your car in shape and prevent future breakdowns. 

Full service

A full service sits in the middle of the three types of service. It’s also the most popular and includes up to 80 checks. This yearly service (or every 12,000 miles) includes more comprehensive checks and changes than an interim service. 

Though 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 & cooling system. 

You should have a full service every year to highlight anything that could lead to a breakdown in the future. Skimping on a full service can cost you a lot long-term as problems worsen. 

So now let’s have a look at exactly what’s checked in both types of service. 



What’s checked in an interim service?

A big part of an interim service is fluid checks. This includes the brake fluid, screen wash and anti-freeze coolant. Also, it checks the condition of the engine, so things like the plugs and filter. The technician will also check the battery, lights and tyres (among other things). 

Here is a list of everything that is looked at in an interim service: 

  • Bodywork and mirrors etc.
  • Timing belt interval
  • ABS
  • Warning lights
  • All seatbelts
  • Interior and exterior lights
  • Front and rear windscreen wipers, washers and rear-view mirror
  • Fuel cap
  • Air conditioning (if necessary)
  • Power steering
  • Auxiliary and fan belts
  • Air filter
  • Battery
  • Clutch
  • Handbrake operation
  • Gearbox oil and axel oil topped up
  • All fluid levels topped up
  • Inspection for corrosion
  • Engine oil replaced
  • Oil filter replaced
  • Steering and suspension
  • Exhaust system
  • Fuel lines, brake pipes, hoses and handbrake
  • Checks for leakage from cylinders and callipers
  • Tyres
  • Brake pads
  • Drums and discs
  • Exhaust emissions


What’s checked in a full service?

A full service includes all of the above, plus the following: 

  • Door hinges, catches and locks
  • Coolant system 
  • Engine cooling fan
  • Operation of throttle
  • Air filter replaced
  • Distributor cap condition
  • Engine and gearbox mounts
  • Starter motor cranking and security tests
  • Visual inspections of radiator and coolant pipes
  • All-wheel bearings checked for noise
  • Wheel checks
  • Front and rear brake checks

After these checks, you’ll have a stamp in your service book that you can use as proof that you’ve taken care of your vehicle. What’s more, having a full-service history increases the value of your car too.

Now let’s find out how long each service takes. 

How long do they take?

An interim service takes around two hours to complete, whereas a full service takes about three hours. But this can vary depending on which garage you go to and what faults (if any) they find. 

Chances are, though, unless there’s a serious fault, you’ll have your car back the same day. 

Should you book an interim service or a full service?

Before choosing your next service, look back on the year just gone by. Think about how many miles you’ve covered and what type of journeys you’ve made. Also, the type of service you had last. 

While we always recommend an interim service, it’s vital for cars that have done more than the average number (7,400) of miles a year. But not just that. Even if you’ve done less than 7,400 miles you should consider an interim service if you’ve done lots of short journeys consistently.

Regardless of how much you’ve used your car in the last year, you’ll need a full service every year to keep your car in a roadworthy condition. (That is, unless your last annual service was a full service. In which case, it’s time for a major service.) 

No matter which type of service you need, First Stop is the place to go. Head to your local garage to speak to one of our professional technicians about all your servicing needs. 

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