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When does my car need a service?

When does my car need a service?

To keep your drive smooth and your vehicle performing at its best, regular servicing is essential. More importantly, taking your vehicle in for a service can also help you catch any early warning signs of internal failure - rescuing you from a breakdown or paying large sums for an unforeseen repair.

How often do you need to service your car?

If you’re unsure about how often you need to service your car or when your car needs servicing, you need to know what type of service you are going for. 

Typically, an interim service should be taken every 6 months, a full service should be done every year and a major service every two years. 

Unless you are a high mileage driver, the most common service you will receive is a full service. This service will thoroughly inspect your car, making sure it is ready for the road. A full service covers all aspects when it comes to running your vehicle: from basic car maintenance to the key components that keep your vehicle running at top condition. 

However, if you drive over 2,000 miles per month, it is recommended you get an interim service every 6 months. The large mileage will likely cause the vehicle to wear and age quicker than the average road user.

What happens during a service?

What happens during your vehicle’s service will depend on the garage you take it to and the type of vehicle service you pay for. 

All services should include a visual check to your car, such as looking for body and wheel damage. These checks will also include testing your brakes and gearbox to make sure these are working properly. 

If you choose a full service, you can expect it to cover 75 different maintenance assessments, including: 

  • An engine oil change 
  • Checking lights, tyres, exhaust and operations of brakes and steering
  • Ensuring your engine is running at its peak condition
  • Checking hydraulic and coolant fluid levels
  • Checking the cooling system
  • Suspension checks
  • Steering alignment
  • Testing the car’s battery condition

In the case of an electric or hybrid vehicle, the checks will also include your charging port, cables and any other electronic connections that keep the car running.

Is it illegal not to service your car?

A car service isn’t like an MOT and is not a legal requirement. In fact, you can own a car for a lifetime and never get it serviced. However, this is different for those leasing/financing a vehicle, who will find that regular servicing is part of their contractual obligations . 

Should you avoid servicing your vehicle, you will also miss the benefits that come with it. By servicing your vehicle at least once a year you can increase the likelihood of passing your MOT, saving you money on last minute garage bills to keep your car roadworthy. 

Regular servicing will even make your vehicle more attractive to buyers when you come to sell it on. By providing evidence of servicing your car regularly, a future buyer will know that the car is in a great condition and will not let them down. 

It is worth remembering that your car is not deemed roadworthy for the length of the MOT certificate. A lot can happen to your car in a year, so by taking your car in for a service you can pick up on any of the issues which could make your car unsuitable for the road. 

The signs that your car needs a service

If you are unsure about when your next service is due, look out for your cars service signs, these include:

Flashing warning lights

This is one of the most obvious signs that your car needs a service. Most cars will have a service light on the dashboard. This is usually shaped like a spanner, and it indicates that your next service is due when it lights up.

There are other lights to be aware of, in particular, the yellow ‘check engine’ light. If this appears you should take your car to the garage as soon as possible. The issues this light can indicate include emissions system problems and ignition faults. These are issues only a trained professional can fix and can be properly diagnosed at your service. 

If you are unsure about what your different dashboard lights mean, you should check your vehicle manual, which should have a detailed breakdown specific to the make and model of your vehicle.

Smoke from the vehicle

If you notice any excessive clouds of smoke, or you are seeing black clouds in your rear-view mirror, this could be a sign of an oil leak, blockages and build up in your vehicle's internals.

Black smoke usually indicates a build-up of carbon in your vehicle's system, while any smoke coming from underneath the bonnet can mean you have an issue with your radiator. 

Seeing smoke coming from your vehicle isn’t an issue that you should diagnose or fix yourself. It’s a sign that your car should be taken in for a service, as there might be multiple faults at play. 

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Unusual noises

If you are hearing unusual noises from your vehicle this can be the sign of a fault. You should use it as an opportunity to take it to the garage for servicing. 

Unusual noises include:

  • Crunching gears
  • A louder than usual exhaust
  • Squealing brakes
  • Scraping noises
  • Uneven engine sounds

Leaks coming from the vehicle

Leaks can indicate a range of issues. Some are benign, such as a clear fluid being produced by condensation building up in the aircon or exhaust. However, if you see leaks tinged with a colour such as amber, brown, green, black or red, take this as a sign to take your car in for a service.

Although a leak may indicate a certain problem, it is often that the issue will have knock-on effects to other parts of your vehicle.

Unusual brake activity

If you notice any unusual brake activity look to take your car in for service as quickly as possible. 

The braking system in your car is a complex array of systems, built to keep us safe and be responsive to our touch. 

A number of different technologies act together to create the braking response. This includes the Automatic Braking System, the Collision Avoidance System and anti-lock braking. If one of these systems aren’t working at capacity, your car's performance and safety will suffer. 

If you notice any changes in response times or stiffness when braking, make sure you take your vehicle to the service provider. 

What happens if I don’t service my car regularly?

The goal of regularly servicing your vehicle is to keep it running safely and at peak performance. Without regular servicing you run the risk of accumulating unknown damage, putting you in danger, and increasing the chance your car will  break down. 

During your service, your mechanic will be able to pick up on any faults before they grow too large and cause a major breakdown or accident. Not only could this save you money, but it could also save your life. 

Without regular servicing you may even start to notice your vehicle becoming slow and unresponsive, as your engine and fuel efficiency will reduce. 

To put it simply, you will be missing out on a range of benefits including:

  • Increased fuel-efficiency
  • Better handling
  • Improved braking
  • Smoother running engine
  • A more reliable vehicle
  • Savings on repair bills down the line

Get expert, regular servicing and car maintenance as part of your lease

By financing your next vehicle through Stellantis Financial Services, you have the option of adding regular servicing to your plan. This grants you access to our network of expert mechanics who know exactly how to keep your vehicle running at peak performance. If you’re interested and want to find out more, take a closer look at our finance products.