How Often Should I Service My Car

How often you should get your car services is a topic of immense debate both online and in pubs. Everyone is so sure that their particular DIY car maintenance schedule is the best and everyone else doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

Well, you’re not going to get that from me.

I’ll give you the general industry recommendations for effective car maintenance and let you decide for yourself. So, to get started, here are the three main types of service along with their recommended intervals.

  • Interim Service: Every 6 months or 6,000 miles (whichever comes first)
  • Full Service: Every 12 months or 12,000 miles (whichever comes first)
  • Manufacturer Service: As your manufacturer recommends

When is my car service due?

Although most cars are designed to align to this service schedule, some cars have different service intervals. I always recommend you check your car’s log book to see when the manufacturer actually recommends you arrange a service.

Most modern cars will have a service indicator light on the dashboard. When the light pops up, it’s time to time to arrange a service. It’s not a good idea to ignore these lights either, even if you are below mileage indicated in the log book as it may have been triggered by a fault in the engine.

Signs your car needs a service

You can normally tell when your car needs a service by just using common sense. There are some symptoms that you’ll be able to see and feel when you’re driving, if your car needs an imminent service. Here's some of the most common ones.

  • Dashboard warnings lights: Modern cars usually come with a bunch of diagnostic kit and will alert you if anything goes wrong. If your dash starts lighting up like a christmas tree, take it to a garage. Engine, brake, airbags, power steering and battery warning lights are some of the most common.
  • Weird noises: Cars should glide along the road making very little sound at all. If you hear a whine or a whir or a scrape or a crunch or a bang when you’re on the road, it’s not a great sign. If you hear a new strange noise, take your car to the garage to get it investigated.
  • Smoke or steam: Unless you’ve got some coal-powered steam-mobile, you should not see smoke or steam coming from your car. If you see smoke coming from your engine or your exhaust, it's is a very bad sign. Stop as soon as you can and get your car towed to the garage.
  • Vibration or weaving under braking: When you step on the brake pedal, your car should slow down in a straight line. If your car starts juddering or you pull to either the left or the right, something is clearly not right.
  • Bone-jarring suspension: Your suspension should even out all the bumps in the road, delivering a smooth ride for the driver and passengers. If your car slams over every bump with bone-jarring sharpness, there is something seriously wrong with your suspension.