Most drivers will keep to the schedule set out in their car’s service book while a car is new to keep the warranty valid. However, when the warranty expires, many of us stop bothering to stick to the service intervals!
Vehicle services aren’t just a way to keep the motor trade in profit. Both new and used cars benefit from regular check-ups, but they become more important as the vehicle ages and parts begin to suffer from wear and tear.
Familiarise yourself with your car’s service book, so you know when to book in for a service. Most manufacturers recommend servicing when a particular mileage is reached, or after a certain period of time, whichever comes first.
Many modern cars have dashboard lights to let you know a service is required. Check your manual to learn which of these come on automatically when a certain mileage has been reached, and which can indicate a serious issue. Servicing can seem unnecessary if there is nothing obviously wrong with your car. However, a thorough check can reveal potential problems before they turn into serious issues. Prevention is not only better than cure, it’s cheaper, too.
Some consumables, like the engine oil and brake fluid, need changing regularly throughout the life of the vehicle. If a component like the cam belt fails because it was overdue replacement, it could leave you stranded. Worse, it could damage your engine, at far greater expense than a new belt.
Cars run more efficiently when the engine, tyres and exhaust system are properly maintained, so servicing can also save you money on fuel. A service can also highlight issues that would cause the car to fail its MOT, saving you from extra expense and inconvenience. A poorly maintained car may be a hazard to you or other drivers, and if you are involved in an accident while knowingly driving a car with a fault, you may find your insurance policy will not cover the damage.
A typical service will cover inspections and checks of the engine, exhaust, steering, brakes, wheels, and tyres, as well as replacing parts and fluids according to the service schedule. Ask your garage what exactly is included, and question anything you’re not sure about. Generally, the garage will phone you for confirmation before carrying out work that isn’t on the schedule.
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There are ways to save money on servicing. The first service will often be included in the price of a new car. If it isn’t, ask. If the car is an ex demo, it may already have reached the mileage for the first service, so make sure this has been done, or will be done before you drive away.
With a little mechanical knowledge, you may feel confident to perform some maintenance yourself. Many drivers are able to change their own oil, saving on labour charges. You can also carry out checks on components like tyres and brake pads, so you can challenge a garage if they insist a part needs replacing.
It is possible to keep servicing costs down by having services carried out by an independent garage, rather than a dealer for your marque. Contrary to popular belief, this will not affect your warranty if the work is carried out properly. However, you will still need to get your book stamped, and you should keep a detailed record of the work done in case you need to make a warranty claim.
A regularly serviced car will run better, and probably look better, than a neglected one. Not only can servicing prolong the life of your car, an up to date service book may mean you get a better price when the time comes to sell it.