How Much Does A Car Service Cost? And How Do I Find A Good Garage?

Every week, I’d say at least two or three people ask me, “How much should it cost to have my car serviced?”

Unfortunately, there's no real answer. (I know, that's not a great way to start an article on car servicing costs! So if you want to see some example costs, scroll down to the last section.)

But, as you’ll see in a minute, it's difficult for garages to charge one set cost for a service because what a service is varies so much.

To kick off this car maintenance article, let’s quickly recap what a service is.

What is a car service?

Like most things, cars need a little TLC to keep them operating at their best. Services are designed to replace or refresh car components and consumables that have a limited lifespan. Typically, this includes things like engine oil, air filters, spark plugs, brake pads, belts, hoses, cables and gaskets. During a service, mechanics will also check other components for damage and wear.

Precisely what is included will depend on the age and model of your car as well as the quality of the service the garage offers. If you're into DIY car maintenance, you can do a lot of the work yourself but often manufacturer warranties and finance deals will insist on services being carried out by accredited garages.

What can affect the price?

As I mentioned before, a car service isn't one precisely defined industry-standard product and there's a lot of variables at play. Here are some of the bigger factors in determining the price of a service.

  • Size of car: Bigger cars have larger engines with larger components that take more time and more consumables to service. For example, a Land Rover Discovery will need more engine oil than a Ford Ka+.
  • Complexity of car: Some cars — Dacia Sandero, Mazda MX-5, etc. — are super basic bits of machinery. Others — Tesla Model S, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, etc. — are the polar opposite. Generally speaking, the more complicated a car is, the more it will cost to service. This is especially true with hybrids and all-electric cars.
  • Level of service: Services come in varying levels or tiers — interim, full and major — that check, replace and refresh progressively more points on your car. There is a lot of variation within each tier so be sure to ask for a full list of what the garage does before proceeding.
  • Quality of service: Not all garages are created equal. If you buy a full service off a daily deals site for a tenner, don’t be surprised when they do a poor job and don’t check half the stuff they were supposed to.

So how much will a service cost?

To give you a real world feel for servicing costs, I took my trusty Vauxhall Corsa to a few local garages to get some quotes.

Here’s what they told me.

  • Garage #1: A full service cost £161.33 and included a free health check.
  • Garage #2: A full service cost £96.00.
  • Garage #3: A full service cost £173.64.00 and included a free health check.

As you can see, there’s a fairly wide range of costs and the level of service.

How do you find a good garage?

Search online or in a paper directory to find all the garages near you. Narrow this list down using recommendations from friends, family and online reviews.

Once you’ve got a shortlist, get written quotes from them all the garages with a full explanation of what they’re going to do and how much it’s going to cost. Also get their hourly rate, which will kick in if the service uncovers any repairs that need immediate attention.

Actually visiting the garage is a great idea too as it allows you to check the working conditions, atmosphere and so on. If the premises are disorganised and employees are mucking around, you may want to give the garage a miss.

While at the garage, there are a few questions you should consider asking to judge the quality of their service:

  • Do you use approved parts?
  • Do you offer a courtesy car or delivery service?
  • Do you have any accreditations?
  • Do you offer a warranty on your work?