To get the best from a car it pays to have it serviced regularly, that is to say at least annually; more if mileage is very high. Routine maintenance by a qualified and experienced car servicing technician just makes sense. It saves the time wasted waiting for the breakdown service and it maintains levels of safety. The thing is though, some folk think that it’s just an interim thing; a case of dipping the oil and blowing the dust out of the air filter. No. Here’s why it is worth specifying a full service every year; prior to the MOT test say:
What Is A Full Service?
In short, the whole car is inspected, faults noted and reported, all the liquids and fluids checked and, if necessary, replaced; not just under the bonnet. Although its added expense, there’s peace of mind knowing that the car is as good as it can be for its age or distance travelled. Here’s a list of maintenance items that may or may not need attention in any given year:
See And Be Seen And Heard
A visual inspection will ensure that all external lights (don’t forget the rear number plate light!) and indicators, warning lamps, even the horn are working properly.
On The Inside
The condition of the seat belts, the windscreen (no cracks or chips), the wipers and mirrors and so on. One item that will make a difference is the often neglected pollen filter; it helps to keep the interior air clean of irritants.
Under The Bonnet
Not all jobs need doing every year; it depend on use but generally let your trusted car servicing garage make the decision to replace the oil and oil filter and the air filter. It really makes a difference to the well-being of the engine. The radiator and hoses need checking for leaks and the external drive belts might need replacing. Above all, let the technician advise on the timing belt. On a Ford, say, this needs changing after around 50k miles. This is not an advisory item: If this belt goes that’s the engine totalled. If it needs doing, get it done.
One maintenance job we should all do, especially in winter, is to check and top up the windscreen washer bottle, using a diluted anti-freeze product; it’s cheap enough from the supermarket. Coolant systems are sealed units theses days but leaks need to looked for. An owner can check the brake and clutch fluids easy enough but if topping up, make sure the right fluid is used; this job can’t be a short cut to saving money. Check for transmission fluid leaks from the gearbox too. If on a wet day, you see ‘dead rainbows’ under the car, then oil or fluid is leaking and mixing with water.
The Usual Suspects
There’s plenty of advice for ensuring brakes, wheels and tyres are in good working order, right here on our website.
Steering & Suspension
All parts on a car’s under-carriage take a bashing over time. Have the garage check the condition of road springs, shock absorbers, steering, drive shafts and gaiters. This is the kit that keeps the car where it should be; on the tarmac. Don’t forget the exhaust and emissions either; it’s part of the MOT test.
When the time comes for the car to be serviced, the owner has choices: An interim service performs some, but not all checks, but is a good idea between full services if high mileage is driven. A full service deals with all the items listed above. It’s worth, if the car is getting older, considering a major service which deals with all the above but in much more detail.
Whichever, the car will be better for it. It will be safer, cleaner on the environment, smoother to drive and more fuel efficient which these days is a big factor. Ask your local garage for details. A full service is worth the extra.