"You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone" sang Joni Mitchell in her appropriately car-related song 'Big Yellow Taxi', and that's exactly how most car owners feel. If it ain't broke don't fix it, we think, but then as soon as our car breaks down and is out of action we wish we'd given it a bit more attention.
Knowing you have to get your car serviced is one thing, but knowing when is where we usually slip up. What warning signs should you look out for? What dates should you make a note of in the calendar? All will be revealed - read on.
Time vs mileage
On both new cars and new used cars, the time between you buying the car and then taking it in for a first service is the same: 12 months (for used cars this will obviously mean 12 months since its previous service).
A year is considered the maximum time your car should go without being checked by a trained mechanic, and could save you a lot of money in the long run if early signs of damage are spotted and taken care of before they worsen. Twelve months is also often the amount of time a car is covered for after the previous MOT.
Then again, this really depends on how much use you're getting out of your motor. In terms of distance travelled, it's recommended that you get a new car serviced after it has done somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 miles (let's say 12,000). Most car experts and mechanics consider this amount of miles to be sufficient enough for there to be potential damage, so even if you don't think there's anything wrong with it, get it checked out anyway.
Ultimately, then, you should get a new car serviced when it has either:
- Been 12 months since the purchase or last MOT
- Traveled 10,000 - 15,000 miles
- Or sooner if stated in the manufacturers guidelines
Warning signs that your car needs a service:
Just because it hasn't been a year or 15,000 miles doesn't mean that things haven't already gone wrong. There are a few parts you should keep an eye out for when you're on the road, and all of them could prove dangerous:
1. Thin brake pads
Checking brake pads is a relatively simple procedure involving looks through the spokes of your wheel (brake pads should be at least a quarter of an inch thick), but if you're unsure or your car wheels are designed in such a way that you can't see through the spokes, it's probably best to take it to a mechanic.
2. Car pulling
There's nothing scarier than feeling like you're not in control of your vehicle. If your car seems to be pulling to the left or right when driving, there could be issues with the braking system, the inflation of your tires might be uneven or your tracking may need adjusting. Get it checked out ASAP.
3. Strange noises
If you hear a squealing or grinding sound, it's probably your car crying out for help. Both squealing and grinding sounds are caused by two or more parts rubbing that should not be. The earlier the problem is sorted the less likely there will be damage to the rubbing parts and the cheaper the repair will be.
4. Pedals playing up
Whether your pedals are stiff or let you literally put pedal to the metal (when your brake pedal goes practically to the floor), it's time to get your car serviced immediately.
Now you know when to get a first service on a new car, it's time to learn what is involved with the service itself, and what to expect from a second service. Check out our 'What is involved with the first and second servicing of a car' now.