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How Often Should I Service My Car?
●August 30, 2021●4 minute read
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Buying a car is a huge financial responsibility. Not only do you have to think about the costs of petrol, registration, and insurance, but you also have to consider regular servicing and maintenance.
While booking your car in for a service may seem simple, thousands of Aussies are guilty of avoiding the phone call, or forgetting to do it altogether. If your car is driving normally, it’s easy to assume there’s no need for a service. But, if you’re not a mechanic, chances are you won’t pick up on minor serviceable repairs that are needed until it’s too late. Regular servicing by a professional is therefore super important, but many questions still exist around other aspects of servicing.
Why do cars need regular servicing?
Like people, cars need regular check-ups and TLC. Even a new car needs maintenance to make sure things are running smoothly and to avoid unforeseen mechanical problems. In fact, there are many benefits of regular servicing that will hopefully encourage you to keep up with it yourself:
- Increased vehicle safety;
- Reduced fuel consumption;
- Extended engine life;
- Maintained road-worthiness;
- Improved resale value.
If you plan to sell your vehicle, chances are you’ll be asked to provide a road-worthiness certificate. If you’ve skipped your recent services, you may not be able to provide this, and will then be stuck forking out hundreds (if not thousands) to cover any necessary mechanical repairs.
What types of car services exist?
Whether your car is on its last legs or brand new, the types of services needed are generally similar. There are three main types of services that mechanics will offer, and each has its own importance when it comes to the longevity of your vehicle.
- General service: A general service is the most common type of car service you’ll have. The mechanic will do a thorough inspection of the vehicle, checking for any signs of damage while also monitoring the engine oil and fluid levels.
- Interim service: An interim service isn’t compulsory, but it is recommended for certain car owners. This type of service is done between general services, as an additional check-up on a car’s fluid levels, engine condition, and other cosmetic aspects like battery life, lights, and tyres. These services are especially important for owners who frequent challenging conditions, like high-speed driving, towing, and stop-start city driving. Some vehicles will have interim service recommendations in their manual, under ‘adverse operating conditions’.
- Full service: A full service covers all your bases as a vehicle owner. This thorough inspection includes that of a general service, while also checking other elements like the steering, tyres, exhaust system, and suspension. It’s important to get a full service every so often to make sure those elements are running smoothly, to avoid compromising your safety on the roads.
Did you know?
Your car’s age, mileage, and usage patterns will greatly impact when and how it is serviced. If you’ve bought a new car from a dealership, you’ll probably have a specified warranty. This can sometimes include basic servicing costs, therefore, saving you money. If it’s an older vehicle with lots of kilometres, you’re probably looking at more expensive services to replace engine parts and tyres. If you drive long distances or enjoy off-roading, this can also contribute to more frequent maintenance.
Average cost of a car service
The costs of a car service will differ greatly depending on many factors, including what type of service you’re getting done. As a rule of thumb, a minor service can have you looking at around $245, with a logbook service costing upwards of $380.
Here is a rundown of the average costs of a car service by Australian state or territory (this average is based on all types of general, logbook and major servicing):
|State or Territory
|Australian Capital Territory
|New South Wales
So, how often should I be servicing my car?
As a rule of thumb, you should think about servicing your vehicle every six months or every 10,000km – whichever one you reach first. This usually works out to two services per year – one minor and one major.
Every model is different, though, and every owner drives differently, which makes it tricky to put a definite time stamp on servicing. Modern cars tend to have longer service intervals, meaning they can get to the 12-month mark (or 15,000km) before needing a service. If your vehicle is newer, it’s important not to drag out services longer than this, as problems can start popping up once you reach the year mark.
What if I don’t service my car?
While it can feel like a chore, servicing your car is extremely important. Even missing one service can lead to engine problems and avoidable repairs. Some consequences of not servicing your car can include:
- Reduced fuel economy;
- Poor driving feel;
- Reduced braking performance;
- Minor and major mechanical failures.
If your car is under warranty through a dealership, failing to keep up with services during this period can also invalidate the warranty.
Small repairs you can do yourself
If you’re handy with a spanner, you might just be able to pull off a few minor repairs yourself without forking out the costs of a professional mechanic. However, it’s important to know what you’re doing. Some common repairs that you could tackle include:
- Changing brake pads;
- Changing spark plugs;
- Replacing headlights and tail lights;
- Replacing air filters;
- Changing the car battery.
While it may seem overwhelming, our guide to easy car repairs will run you through the basics of these minor services. If you’re doubting your mechanical abilities, though, it’s always safer to take your vehicle to a professional.
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Written by Katie Francis
Katie Francis is a Content Writer at Jacaranda Finance. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Business (Marketing)/Media & Communications at the Queensland University of Technology.