what to change when servicing your car

Why, What and When to Service Your Vehicle

Hopefully every car owner understands why you need to service your motor vehicle. You cannot expect to simply buy a car and not do anything towards maintaining it. Similar to how us as humans require nutrients.

Regular servicing of your vehicle keeps the vehicle healthy and increasing the lifespan. In the long run, this will save you a serious amount of money from avoiding large bills that could potential write off your car.

Possibly one of the most common ignored service part is the engine oil. Engine oil that is not changed regularly can become clogged up and reduce your engines lubrication. Eventually, your engine will start becoming louder and louder until it eventually gives up.

What Does a Full Car Service Include?

Servicing your car is not as simple as just changing your engine oil, there are many vital car components that need to be changed at different intervals.

If you plan to service your car yourself, having the correct tools makes things much easier. Either a fully functioning garage lift or a trolley jack with axle stands are the main things apart from your garage tools of course.

We have compiled a vehicle service checklist of the popular servicing process but this can include plenty more. There are three terms that determine what service your car requires:

  • Interim service is usually around 6,000 miles or 6 months
  • Full service is usually around 12,000 miles or 1 year
  • Major service is usually around 24,000 miles or 2 years

In general, a full service will include all the interim servicing and more. The major service will include everything that needs to be serviced.

Engine Service Checklist

The largest part of any car service will be the engine because of the amount of vital components. The below contains recommended but not limited to engine servicing:

  • Replace the engine oil and refile with engine oil (fully synthetic is recommended) – Interim
  • Replace oil filter at the same time as the oil – Interim
  • Check whether Cambelt needs changing (car dependent) – Interim
  • Replace Air Filter – Full
  • Check Spark Plugs – Replace where necessary – Full
  • Check Antifreeze and top up if not at limit – Full
  • Check Engine tray is intact and not missing bolts – Full
  • Drain and replace coolant – Major

When servicing the engine, its always recommended to check components such as the radiator, coolant cap seals and hoses, electric cooling fan, tension fan and alternator belt and drive belt.

Fuel Service Checklist

Fuel servicing is not really included within an interim service unless necessary. During a full service of a car, its important to check the condition of the fuel lines and fuel cap seals because if blocked the car will not perform. During a major service, the fuel filter should be removed and replaced with a new filter.

If you have been using primarily premium fuels, you will have cleaner fuel hoses, lines and injectors and they will last much longer.

what parts to service on your car

Transmission Service Checklist

Depending whether the car is manual or automatic, the servicing may differ. Even if the car is automatic, there are many forms of automatic transmission from DSG, Tiptronic, Paddle shift and the standard.

  • Check operation of clutch and gearbox – Interim
  • Check clutch fluid levels and top up if necessary – Interim
  • Apply grease to propshaft if necessary – Full
  • Check gearbox fluid color and level and  top up or change if necessary – Major

The gearbox automatic transmission fluid level must be at its correct level. If not, gear changes will be erratic and harsh. Effects from incorrect gearbox fluid levels will be more noticeable as the car drives round corners or uphill/downhill.

Electrical Component Service Checklist

Often forgotten about when servicing a car but the electrical components of a car need to be maintained. Without proper electric current flowing around the car, many mechanical components will fail or not run as efficiently.

  • Test electrics such as headlights, horn and dashboard warning lights – Interim
  • Check battery voltage and replace if necessary (our highly recommended batteries and booster) – Interim
  • Check Glow Plugs and Replace if burnt out – Full
  • Inspect High Tension leads – Full
  • Test starter motor is fully operational – Major
  • Test charging rates of the alternator – Major

However, many cars have more electrical components than pre 2000 vehicles. Also, with the introduction of hybrids and fully electrical cars, servicing the electrical components will be even more extensive.

Suspension and Steering Servicing Checklist

The suspension and steering contain vital safety components and must be maintained regularly.

  • Check power steering fluid level and top up if necessary – Interim
  • Check suspension components such as drop links, bushes and ball joints for wear. Replace in pairs where necessary – Interim
  • Check and test condition of steering rack – Interim
  • Test wheel bearings for play in the wheel – Interim
  • Test shock absorbers – Interim
  • Grease suspension components to extend life span – Full

Failure to service suspension and steering parts can cause severe safety concerns that could be fatal at high speeds.

Exhaust Servicing Checklist

During all servicing, a check of the exhaust for leaks or excessive noise is usually required. Corrosion of the exhaust is fairly common and cause the exhaust to eventually fall off. Checking to see whether the exhaust emits certain colored smokes is an excellent indicated to whether there are problems.

Brake Servicing Checklist

Servicing your brakes is extremely perfect to ensure adequate stopping time for your vehicle. Due to the safety nature of  the braking system, many checks are carried out during all services, such as the following:

  • Check brake pad wear and replace if necessary – Interim
  • Check brake calipers are secure with no leaks – Interim
  • Check brake cylinder, pipes and hoses for leaks or corrosion – Interim
  • Check and test handbrake and tighten and lubricate if necessary – Interim
  • Check brake fluid level and top up if required – Interim
  • Check brake drums and discs for scoring, pitting and cracks – Interim
  • Test brake servo is operating correctly – Full
  • Replace brake fluid and bleed system for air – Major

Servicing the brakes requires many checks that are quick and easy to do. Ensuring you are using the best brake pads for your car and changing the discs when required, you will ensure maximum stopping power.

car servicing checklist

Wheels and Tires Servicing Checklist

Often overlooked in terms of car servicing is checking your wheels. The wheels are the only thing between the car and the road, therefore its critical that they are safe. With the wheel removed from the car:

  • Check tire for cracks or punctures (in particular the sidewall) – Interim
  • Check tire depth to be above the legal limit – Interim
  • Adjust tire pressures using an air compressor if not set correctly – Interim
  • Check wheels are balanced correctly – Interim
  • Check locking wheel bolts and normal bolts using proper torque settings – Interim

If you are planning on doing winter driving, you will want to ensure you have the plenty of tread. Using the best winter tires for the snow and ice is also an option for those who regularly drive in poor conditions.

Interior Servicing Checklist

The final part to a fully serviced car is checking interior parts that ensure a comfortable and safe drive.

  • Replace cabin filter dependent upon age/mileage – Interim
  • Check seat belts are all fully operational – Full
  • Check door locks work correctly – Full
  • Lubricate door and bonnet hindges – Full

After Your Car Has Been Serviced

You will want to ensure that if a garage has serviced your car they stamp your cars service book and have removed the service light. The garage would have conducted a road test after the service but you should also do your own with the window down and no music playing.

How Much Does a Car Service Cost?

There will only be a small minority of car owners that will be able to service their cars themselves. This is due to not having all the tools for the job or simply not having the time. In this article we have discussed what happens during an interim, full and major service but how much do they cost?

For a Interim service, you should expect to pay between $130 – $200 dollars at an independent garage. A Full service you should expect to pay between $200 – $300 dollars at an independent garage. Finally, a Major service you should expect to pay between $300 – $400 dollar at an independent garage.

A service at your local dealership will usually cost 1.5 times to 2 times more than an independent garage. Some car owners believe that this is daylight robbery but to many other car owners, its simply adding value to a car with great service history records.

How Often Should You Service Your Car?

There isn’t a fixed occurrence or mileage until you should have your car serviced. There are many factors that determine this but usually its a mixture of age and mileage covered since last service. However, cars that are used for track usage as an example may need to be serviced before every race.

However, in terms of how often to service your car, we recommend that a car should have the full service every year or 15,000 miles (which ever comes first). Many modern cars will have an on board trip computer that will notify the owner when the car needs to be serviced. Sticking to a regular servicing pattern will reduce the risk of expensive repair bills in the future.+

Buying a Car With No Service History

We have all heard the generic “Trust me, the car has been serviced, I have just misplaced the service history documents” plenty of times. They may be telling the truth but the majority of the time, the car might not have many service records at all.

A little known secret is that you may be able to recover the service history via the dealership for a small fee. The car may not have been serviced at the dealership all of its life, however its worth doing just for some paperwork. You will also be able to see if the seller is lying by them telling you “the car has always been serviced at the dealership”.

The plus side to buying a car with no service history is that you will be able buy the car for less. It would then be advisable to spend the savings on a complete full service on the car. It’s always advised to have a mechanic or someone who knows about the car to come along with you. They will be able to tell if the car is a lemon or not.

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What Are Your Thoughts?

  1. I have been needing to get my car checked out for problems for a while, and I didn’t know what I should really take it in for. This article has some great information about when I should take my car in for what. I’m sad to hear that full servicing isn’t included with an interim service. I think it would be great to get a full service done on my car eventually. I will have to look into it. Thanks for all the information!

  2. Many thanks for posting some valuable info about car servicing. I’m looking to read more blogs from you.

  3. Every car owner wants to take good care of their prized-antique. But if we don’t service our vehicle at the right time, then we can never keep our vehicle in a first-rate order. And if I am not wrong, I think when to service the car is a very common question that usually arises in the mind of every motorist. Well, in this regard, my suggestion is, in spite of conflicting the enlightenment from different sources, you need to keep with your factory proposed aftercare schedule mentioned in the owner’s manual or service booklet, by which you can service your vehicle at the most appropriate time. But the fact is, you have to appoint a skilled car professional to carry out the task of servicing in a more efficient manner.

  4. All of these can be done with the help of manual and acting wisely ahead of your car service. And don’t get trapped in the alluring offers and advice that some dealerships and private servicing stations provide you.

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