For many of us, our cars are our most treasured possessions; essential for a convenient and smooth day-to-day existence. Without cars, many people would be at a total loss; unable to travel to work, take the children to school, visit loved ones, and cram as much into 24 hours as we currently do.
Anyone that has been without a car for a day or longer will know what a hindrance it can be - so it makes sense to look after this essential lifeline and have it serviced regularly.
Since the beginning of 2019, 1,269,245 new cars have been registered. This figure is slightly down on the 2018 total of 1.3million, but much higher than the 995k reported in 2017. It's probably fair to assume that a sizeable proportion of these car owners feel a little out of their depth when it comes to the annual service.
To make sure you get the correct level of care and maintenance for your car at all stages of its life, it's a good idea to understand the basics of a typical car service; if nothing else, it will give you some peace of mind.
What is involved in a first and second Service
Want to know what's involved in a service for a specific manufacturer? Click on your car manufacturer below to find out:
Servicing Used Cars
When should you get your first service on a used car?
If you're buying a used car from a dealer, it's likely it would have been given the once-over before you receive the keys; regardless, taking your used car for its first 'proper' service can admittedly cause a little anxiety. At Carbase, we put every one of our used cars and vans through a comprehensive set of vehicle inspections, so you can rely on the condition and quality you're buying. Our checks include HPI and RAC BuySure.
Your typical first service for a used car will be more involved than with a new model; naturally, an older one will have experienced more wear and tear.
What kind of service is due next?
Depending on what your car had the previous year or 12,000 miles, it will either be due an interim service or a full service. You should be able to check your service book, which would have been received with the car.
An interim service will include checking your car's engine oil and filter, electronics, lights (both interior and exterior), the operation of all moving parts, battery, coolant, brake fluid and tyres, windscreen washer fluid, suspension and steering.
The full service will include all of the above, and go into more detail with the brakes, drive belt, radiator, engine and transmission, fuel pipes, air con, carry out a full brake inspection instead of a visual brake check and also carry out a full oil change.
The choice of service is always yours, though many motorists tend to go for a full service, knowing that having all routine aspects checked early on could ultimately improve performance and prolong the life of their car. Having a mechanic look over features including the tyres, brakes, filters and fluids can also help prevent the development of any long-term issues and avoid any nasty costs!
Of course, you don't have to wait until the full annual is due; it's perfectly possible to book your car in for a quick check-up if you suspect there might be a problem or simply want some reassurance. Some car owners might arrange for their brakes, air-conditioning systems and cam belts to be checked separately. Read about the tell-tale signs that your car needs a service here.
Do you need to get your used car serviced by the dealership you got it from?
If your used car came complete with a warranty, the same will apply as with new cars; you are not obliged to take it to the dealer for the first service, providing the alternative garage use parts that have been approved by the manufacturer. This rule has been in place since 2003, implemented by the EU, and gives car owners the chance to shop around for a better deal.
First service: New cars
When should you get your first service on a new car?
The first service for a brand-new car is usually scheduled for 12 months or up to a specific mileage (it varies from 10,000 - 15,000 miles) - whichever comes first. This does differ between manufacturers but should be detailed in your vehicle handbook.
Do you need to get your new car serviced by the manufacturer or dealership you got it from?
You might find that the initial service is a requirement of the warranty, but you don't have to get the car serviced by the manufacturer at the original dealership.
Providing that the independent garage you choose uses parts that have been approved by the manufacturer, and the service occurs within the manufacturer's recommended schedule, there's no problem with taking the car somewhere else.
What's involved in a first service for a new car?
The first service for a brand-new car typically comprises an oil and oil filter change and possibly an air filter change too. As the car is relatively new, it is usually quite a basic procedure and shouldn't break the bank.
When should you get your second service?
Like the first service, the second is generally due when 12 months have passed, or a stipulated mileage has been reached - this will be recorded in your service book. Keeping track of when a service is due, without checking your service book, shouldn't be difficult; in more modern cars an alert might flash up on the LCD screen or it could coincide with your MOT.
With a used car, this will either be the full or interim service, depending on what was done the previous year or at the last mile count. So, if when you bought the used car, you had an interim service carried out on it as the first service, this second service would be a full service, and vice versa. This order will then carry on throughout the services that you have carried out on your used car.
What's involved in a second service?
The same service options will usually be offered: minor (interim) and full. The checks carried out depend on the option and garage you've chosen, but a standard minor service should include an oil and filter change, plus a visual inspection of the:
- Levels of coolant, windscreen wash, brake fluid and power steering fluid
Be advised that should any of these items need to be replaced, it's likely to be at an additional cost.
A full service is far more comprehensive, and your mechanic will carry out checks that are not included in the minor package. For that reason, it's advisable that you have a full service at least every other year. In addition to the checks mentioned above, the mechanic will look at the condition of your spark plugs, oil and air pollen filters and lights. Plus, they'll remove your wheel to take a closer look at your brakes.
Frequently Ask Questions
What happens if you don't get your car serviced?
Your car is a seriously complicated machine which requires respect and attention. Failing to get a regular service can mean that issues won't be flagged at an early, more easily repairable stage. Instead, they might develop into costly problems that will pose a danger to you and other motorists. What's more, you could find it difficult to sell your car in the future if you can't prove you've had it regularly maintained. A full-service history is something that all used car buyers will look for.
Don't be tempted to carry out any tweaks such as oil changes yourself as this could void the warranty - leave maintenance to the qualified mechanics.
Ultimately, regular maintenance contributes significantly to the performance of your vehicle, promoting fuel-economy, efficiency and reliability. Having spent many hundreds of pounds on your car, it makes sense to look after it, don't you think?
What's included in a Ford service?
A Ford service will differ depending on which model you have and also how you use your vehicle. However, most services will include an aircon check, oil and filter change, tyre check and a free 30-point Ford Video check, if you take your Ford to a licensed Ford Dealer. These checks are vital to make sure that your car is running as safely and efficiently as possible, whether you drive a Ka, a Fiesta or a Mondeo.
What's included in a Vauxhall service?
Whether you drive a Corsa, and Astra, or any other Vauxhall model, you need to make sure it's in the best possible condition. In an interim Vauxhall service, all the regular checks are carried out, from oil and windscreen washer fluid to battery performance and brake pads and tyres. A major Vauxhall service also includes checks on the following parts, which will be changed where necessary - oil and filter, air filter, fuel filter, spark plugs, pollen filter and brake fluid. Check their video to find out the full list for their service.
What's included in a BMW service?
A BMW service will include different checks, based on which package you purchase. The BMW Pay Monthly Service plan will spread out your service costs based on monthly payments, instead of one lump sum, or a BMW Value Service where you can select which parts of your vehicle you want serviced and only pay for those parts. In an Interim Service, BMW will check the instruments, lights, seatbelts, the battery, electrics, coolant, brake fluid, engine oil and filter and windscreen wash.
What's included in an Audi service?
Regular servicing is key to maintaining your Audi, whether it's an A1 or an R8. Included in an Audi service is an oil and filter change, vehicle health check and a reset service interval display for the 'oil change service'. The Inspection service includes these actions, as well as cleaning and replacing air filters (when necessary), replacing spark plugs (petrol) or fuel filter (diesel) where necessary and a full vehicle inspection with a road test.
What's included in a Volkswagen service?
An Express Visual Check is conducted on every car that enters a Volkswagen (or VW) workshop. A minor service will include - where required - a pollen filter replacement, oil and filter change, fuel and air filter replacements, vehicle heath check, with a major service also providing an air filter change, spark plugs (petrol) and fuel filter (diesel) change, brake checks, drive belt tension adjustment, gearbox oil level check, final drive oil level check and a road test.
Need to book in for a service? Whether you bought your car from Carbase or not, we'll be more than happy to help you maintain its performance at one of our Auto Centres.