Car Servicing – What’s in a service?
One in three drivers admits to scrimping on costs to such an extent they could be putting themselves and others in danger (according to research carried out by consumer association, Which?). So is regular Car Servicing necessary or are a third of the population right?
The frightening reality is that for a third of the population this essential part of car maintenance, is not seen as a priority until something goes wrong. 15% service their car less frequently than a year and some never do. 12% of people admit to ignoring rattles or noises to save money and, should they eventually service the car, prefer to use cheap parts (such as brake pads and filters) and lubricants. 14% said they use cheap or second hand tyres and take the tyre too close to the legal limit.
Paul Havenhand, Head of Insurance at Post Office said: ‘Ignoring a small problem which could be easily repaired will not make it disappear, and could result in the cost escalating with time. Failing to maintain your car could lead to it being deemed un-roadworthy. Even more importantly, it could make the car dangerous on the roads and put both the driver and others at risk.’
SERVICING KEEPS YOU SAFE
Tyres are the only contact between the car and the road, so worth paying attention to. Nobody wants to be caught at high speed with a blowout. It presents a frightening prospect for the driver, passengers and witnesses. Tyres rarely become dangerous overnight, but in reality how many of us check our tyres for damage?
If caught with an unroadworthy tyre, it can cost you £2,500 and 3 points on your license… per tyre!
Brakes can’t usually be seen properly until the wheel is taken off, so you can mistakenly think that they are ok. This is why they need regular attention. It can be the difference between replacing brake pads or brake pads, disks and callipers.
It is vital, to have the oil changed regularly. This will ensure the engine is properly lubricated and prevent sludge from building up in the engine. If oil is left to its own devices for too long it coagulates and gets stuck, starving your engine of lubrication. If left for the engine to fail, the cost of an oil change would look more appealing to the cost of a new engine.
Filters prevent the grit and sludge from getting into component parts and preventing them from seizing
Among others, these components are all regularly checked in a service which would prevent an expensive repair, ensure longevity of the car and keep the driver, passengers and other road users safe.
The average cost of a basic car service is relatively small in comparison to major component replacement. All cars are different, but you could expect to spend around:
- Engine exchange – £3,000+
- Cylinder head gasket – £500+
- Radiator – £300+
- Water pump – £250+
You probably can’t do some of the things that a service entails
An astounding 11% of drivers repair their own vehicle with a further 10% relying on friends or family for car fixes.
We see many DIY disasters that actually would not have cost the consumer much to put right, but when a repair goes wrong, it can be expensive to correct and oversights can be lethal.
The Go Compare comparison site outlines that “even if you are an amateur mechanic, a service is still needed. Cars nowadays are such complicated, computerised beasts that expert knowledge is required. It is recommended that vehicle owners trust their vehicle maintenance to qualified mechanics who have access to the correct tools and expertise.”
The reassuring news is that modern driving tests now ensure that candidates are able to perform basic maintenance like tyre checks themselves. This is a great start, but needs to become part of every drivers routine to be effective.
A SERVICE CAN SAVE YOU MONEY
Part of the servicing schedule is about ensuring that the engine is running correctly, that there are no problems with the brakes, that the tyres are correctly inflated and the filters are changed regularly. If all that is attended to properly and the adjustments carried out then the engine will run efficiently, and of course it’s good for the environment.
What should be covered in a service?
Whatever the age of your vehicle, regular servicing is a must and should be considered part of the cost of owning a car. In much the same way we have the option to pay for utility bills monthly, we should consider vehicle maintenance similarly, especially when a car is essential to daily life.
All the safety related items should be covered – the brakes, the steering, the suspension, the tyres, the tyre pressure, lighting, windscreen wipers etc. Then secondary to those but equally important are the normal everyday things that you would expect in your service such as the replacement of oil, oil filters, air filters, spark plugs, fuel filters, as per the manufacturer’s schedule.
How regularly to I get my car serviced?
Manufacturers all differ with this, so it is worth checking your Service Book. As a basic rule of thumb, a professional should check over your car every 12,000 miles or at least annually. If you are a high mileage user, this may well be every 6 months. If you have any concerns in between services, it is important you don’t wait for the next service as odd noises usually don’t go away!
There are also times when a service is particularly important such as before embarking on a long journey or when the car hasn’t been used for a while. Cars which have been sitting still for prolonged periods of time may have developed issues on account of the engine being left idle.
Some garages also provide 40/60/70 point checks…. These are great and can give you peace of mind. They are varied in number as garages all do them differently – some count all indicators as one point, but others count each indicator equating to 4 points! The important thing is to know that the main parts are being checked.
The majority of us use our vehicles daily and usually have passengers, so it is important to ensure you are safe!
Is there such a thing as a cheap service?
The only way of reducing the cost to the garage on servicing is to use non Original Equivalent (OE) parts or non-genuine parts which break and wear quicker. Or use inferior lubricants. The largest and most trusted lubricants are provided by Castrol, so it is always reassuring to see evidence that this is what the garage uses. Other high quality oils such as Mobil, Shell, are also used widely. These oils give the latest engine protection technology and improved performance. Inferior parts will also invalidate your warranty, so it is important to use the right parts. It’s a matter of balancing your finances with safety.
If you are comparing prices between garages, look for transparency with what they provide and ensure you are comparing like for like. Terminology changes dependent on where you go or the manufacturers terms….. but whether it’s a main, full, intermediate, interim, service A, B or C, make sure that it meets the manufacturers schedule of what is needed. You’ll find that in your service book, and the reputable garages will ensure they check this on their systems also. If you have an electronic service book, you should be able to check this on line and the garage will be able to update your records for you. But check that they can do this before they start work!
The easiest way to budget for servicing is to find someone who has ‘fixed-price’ servicing, so that you know what to expect.
Also take a look at the garage themselves. An ideal, is to have a garage with different levels of Technician from Service Technician through to Master Technician. Essentially, as the name suggests, a Fitter will fit all the requirements according to a regular service. They will not necessarily see faults that may cause greater damage if not detected. A consumer benefits massively for having a Master Technician on site who is on hand should the service indicate a more serious repair. They have in-depth knowledge that is invaluable and will help keep you on the road for longer.
Make sure it is a reputable garage. Ask for recommendations from friends or look for consumer organisations who endorse them such as Which? Or Trading Standards – Buy With Confidence. At the very least ensure they have current knowledge to do the job. It is an unregulated industry, so anyone can set up as a mechanic or repair centre.
AN MOT IS NOT THE SAME AS A SERVICE
This is a surprising misconception, that an MOT is a service by another name. Some ignore the service light on the basis that they have only recently had an MOT.
The two actually perform very different functions.
The Government Agency, DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency), say:
“You must keep any vehicles driven on the road in a roadworthy condition. The MOT test checks that your vehicle meets road safety and environmental standards. It isn’t the same as having your vehicle serviced and doesn’t check its general mechanical condition.”
The MOT is a periodic technical inspection for safety, it is not designed to repair or replace worn vehicle components and won’t predict that you are safe for the next 12 months. Ensuring your car is safe is common sense. Admitting you will never get round to the checks yourself, and instead getting a reputable garage to do this for you, makes even more sense. It could save your life.
It’s so much more! Technicians are highly experienced in mechanics, electrics and explosives!…. and passionate about cars. In a nutshell, don’t ignore the service or warning lights! Having your car regularly serviced will:
- Help reduce engine wear
- Improve fuel economy
- Prolong the life of your engine.
- Highlight any outstanding safety issues or wear and tear on suspension, steering and braking systems.
- Save you money – a healthy vehicle tends to be a more affordable vehicle
- Retains the resale value of your car
Ignoring those tapping sounds, ignoring the service light or not checking tyres regularly could have catastrophic consequences. THINK!