A complete guide to car servicing

Ever wondered why you need to book your car in for a service? Our guide to car servicing will tell you everything you need to know about this important auto health check

Written by Verity Hogan
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What is a car service?

Think of a car service like a check-up for your car. Just like your annual medical, a service is a chance for a mechanic to look over your pride and joy, assess its condition, spot signs of wear and tear, and identify any potential issues before you end up breaking down on a rainy day on the M60!

While it isn’t compulsory, a regular service can help your car run as efficiently and safely as possible. It could also help to improve fuel efficiency, give you better handling on the road, and make sure your engine is ticking over smoothly.

When do I need to service my car?

There’s no hard and fast rule for when you should book a service for your car, but the manual is a good place to start. As every make and model is different, your car manual should tell you what the manufacturer recommends. This could be based on how far you’ve driven or how long it’s been since your last service.

Drivers opinions are often split. Some book in for a service every 10,000 or 20,000 miles while others choose to have an interim service every six months, a full service every year, and a major service every two years.

If you’re lucky enough to own a more modern car then it might do all the hard work for you by having a service indicator that flashes when its due for a service.

What does a car service include?

There’s no universal standard when it comes to car services. The checks carried out will depend on the type of service you book and the garage you go to.

However, almost all services will include a mixture of visual and manual checks. This mean it’s likely the mechanic will check your brakes, steering, gearbox, lights, bodywork, and exhaust as well as getting under the hood to inspect the engine oil, oil filter, coolant levels, suspension, and battery.

Should I have a Major, Full, or Interim Service?

There are three types of service offered by most garages.


Think of an interim service as more of a quick check up than a full deep dive. It’s designed to spot any potentially serious issues so will likely include things like checking the lights, brakes, tyres, steering and suspension, as well as topping up fluids. In some cases, the garage may perform an oil change, replace the oil filter, and inspect the drive belt.


A step up from the interim, a full service will include all the above along with some added extras. This might include an inspection of the alternator and vacuum hoses


Time for the full works! A major service is as heavy duty as it sounds and includes everything you get with a full service as well as replacing brake fluid and spark plugs and testing the battery.

Can I service my car at any garage?

Yes! There are thousands of garages offering services across the UK and whether you decide to go with a franchise dealership, chain, or independent garage is largely a question of personal preference.

Dealerships can charge more than independent garages as they typically have higher overheads and staff commission, but they can also have a better understanding of the faults a certain make or model might develop.

If you’d prefer to go independent, ask for recommendations from friends and family. A well-respected garage should be open about their pricing, happy to explain any problems they identify, and carry out the work as agreed and on time.

How much does a car service cost?

As there’s no standard car service in the UK, the cost can vary depending on the garage you choose and where you’re based.

Chains tend to offer a standard price while independent garages can set very different prices.

Even so, you can expect an interim service to range from £75 to £125 and a full to be between £125 and £150. And remember, this is just the cost of the service. Any repairs, replacements, or new parts will cost extra.

How long does a car service take?

Depending on the type of service you and garage you choose, a full service can take up to three hours, while an interim usually clocks in at around an hour and a half. You may be able to wait for the service to be completed while at the garage or leave the car there and pick it up once the work is complete.

Why does service history matter?

There are many advantages to taking your car in for regular services, especially when it comes to selling your car. Make sure you ask the garage carrying out your service to complete the service history and keep the document safe. This could help with the resale value of your car as it’s proof you’ve spent time and money looking after it. If you’re buying a used car, ask to look at the service history before you sign. A missing history might mean there have been issues with the car in the past or it’s not been well cared for.

Verity Hogan

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