Expert advice: the importance of car servicing

Importance of car servicing

Having your car serviced regularly will ensure it runs reliably (Picture © IMI)

The importance of car servicing should never be underestimated. There have been various surveys suggesting that at the height of the recession, increasing numbers of drivers were trying to save money by cutting back on scheduled car maintenance. In Green Flag’s experience at the roadside, it’s evident that many of the breakdowns our technicians attend are the result of cars not being properly looked after. Here’s all you need to know about the importance of sticking to your car manufacturer’s recommended servicing intervals. 

The importance of car servicing: What’s the difference with an MOT?
The law dictates that you must have an MOT carried out annually on cars that are more than three years old. A service is entirely voluntary. But don’t think of your MOT as a service by another name. They’re not related. An MOT is an inspection to ensure that your car is road worthy; your car either passes or fails it. A service isn’t as black and white. It’s designed to repair or replace worn components such as fluids, filters and brake pads.

The importance of car servicing: Frequency of the service
The length between services varies from car to car. To find out when your car is due its scheduled service, check in the handbook. An increasing number of cars offer a digital display which counts down the number of days, or miles, until the next service is due. Over the past decade, with the advent of synthetic oils and improved engine management systems, cars have been engineered to cover an increasing number of miles between services. This means car makers can offer drivers a choice of service schedules to better suit their driving habits.

A popular manufacturer like Volkswagen suggests that anyone who drives fewer than 10,000 miles a year and spends a lot of time in town or in traffic should have their car serviced once a year. Those that undertake less stressful long distance trips on the motorway may find their car only needs servicing once every two years or up to 18,000 miles.

The importance of car servicing: Isn’t having a car serviced expensive?
I’m the first to admit that having a car serviced can be costly. However, in our experience, not having a car serviced can be even more expensive. For example, as engine oil ages its lubricating properties begin to deteriorate. And the less lubrication an engine has, the less efficiently it runs and the more it can cost in fuel. Equally, because an engine requires a lot of parts to move in perfect synchronicity, if you have a problem with one perhaps relatively cheap component, it can quickly escalate and become a very expensive failure.

The importance of car servicing: Why you should follow recommended service intervals
The car makers test their vehicles to breaking point. They then put tolerances in their servicing intervals, presuming that in our busy lives, we’re not going to get round to servicing our cars on the nail of so many thousand miles. However, push those tolerances too hard and things will start to fail, and it can quickly become expensive.

The importance of car servicing: How can you help
One of the first things a garage will do now is plug a computer into the car through its On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) port. The car’s computer will then tell the mechanic if it has detected any problems that need addressing. To help ensure that there aren’t, drivers should check the oil and coolant levels at least once a month and top them up accordingly. Equally, when tyres don’t have sufficient air in them, they will wear more heavily than when they’re pumped up to the right level. Under-inflated tyres are also more likely to blow out. If you don’t pick these up, they will be discovered at the service.

The importance of car servicing: It can make you money
Whenever you get your car serviced, make sure you have the service book stamped and keep the invoice itemising the work that was carried out. When it comes to selling the car, prospective buyers will be reassured to know the car has a Full Service History (FSH in advert speak). Better still, cars with a service history are generally worth more than those without as they show that the car has been properly maintained and should give more trouble-free miles.

Green_Flag_Nick_ReidNick Reid is a fellow of the Institute of the Motor Industry and head of transformation at Green Flag

2 comments on “Expert advice: the importance of car servicing

  1. April Cook May 18, 2016 3:59 pm

    i just bought a new car, and I want to make sure it lasts me a long time! I like your reminder to have frequent service done. I didn’t realize that it could help me avoid having to pay more in the future to fix big problems. Thanks for all this great information!

  2. Lenny Estrin September 17, 2016 4:56 pm

    When people buy new car they should do frequent service after certain kilometers as recommended in manual This will keep car maintain properly and will not give future problems.

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