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Dublin: 9 °C Tuesday 17 October, 2017

Expert opinion: How often should you service your car?

A regular service is essential for keeping your vehicle in good nick.

Image: Shutterstock/Vereshchagin Dmitry

LIKE VISITING THE dentist or getting a doctor’s check-up, a vehicle service is one of those things many people tend to avoid until they have absolutely no choice.

By ignoring your car’s service schedule though, you’re putting yourself at risk of vehicle breakdown, NCT failure and costly repair bills down the line.

With the help of David Pimlott, Customer Service Director at Ford Ireland, we’ve got the lowdown on why and when a vehicle service is necessary.

What’s the point of a car service though, really?

Source: Shutterstock/Robert Przybysz

Just like any household item or electronic equipment you own, your car needs to be kept in tip-top shape in order to run properly and reliably.

“Think about it, a car is a very sophisticated piece of machinery, with a lot of moving parts,” says David. “For many of us, it’s the most important purchase that any of us will make apart from our house or apartment, and to protect that investment we have to look after it.”

Can’t I just lift up the bonnet and take a look myself?

shutterstock_538921315 Source: Shutterstock

You should absolutely give your vehicle regular basic checks at home yourself, but a car service delves deeper than just checking the engine oil or replacing wiper blades. Take the e-Check for example, a comprehensive vehicle health check that’s a standard part of most car services.

“During this inspection, the technician will inspect up to 50 items from bumper to bumper,” explains David. “A vehicle expert is best placed to identify, diagnose and repair any irregularities that may be present.”

In terms of “irregularities,” the list is long and varied. David recalls one car that had a “squeaking and rattling noise” coming from the engine area, which turned out to be from some unwelcome visitors.

Soon after lifting the bonnet, I realised that a family of rats had taken up residency within the sound proofing material located above the engine. Every so often they would come out to have a nibble on the wiring.

Aside from occasional rodent removal, there are also essential safety features that must be checked in detail during a vehicle service. “Tyres, braking and suspension components and safety restraint systems are just some of the things a technician will typically check,” says David.

Will getting my car serviced give it a longer life?

As with any long-term investment item, the better you look after your vehicle, the longer it’ll last, and a regular servicing schedule is a big part of that, as David emphasises.

If a vehicle is maintained to the manufacturer’s schedule at all times and well cared for by its owner, it’s not uncommon for vehicles to last upwards of 20 years.

Vehicle technicians are trained to pick up underlying issues that, if left unchecked, could lead to potential damage and costly repairs down the line.

Hang on, how often do I need to get my car serviced?

shutterstock_527082649 Source: Shutterstock

The general rule of thumb is every 20,000km, or every year, though this can vary if your car has a larger engine or is an older vehicle. For an exact service schedule, you can refer to your vehicle’s owner manual or check the manufacturer’s website.

“Over the years, the guidelines of how regularly you should get your car serviced have changed in line with developments in technology,” explains David.

If you go back 30 years, a vehicle would generally have needed a service every six months, but as a result of changes in vehicle design and overall product quality, servicing intervals can be longer these days.

How can I tell if my car needs a service?

The best way to know is to rely on the advice of a car dealer or a trusted mechanic who knows about your vehicle’s service schedule, but it’s important to trust your gut too.

“Over time, we all come to know our cars very well. If you notice something different like a strange noise or a sluggishness, that could be the car’s way of telling you it’s time for a check-up from a trained car technician,” advises David.

Once I do get my car serviced, what’s one big thing I should keep an eye on to make sure everything stays running smoothly?

shutterstock_525527470 Source: Shutterstock

There’s a whole list of regular checks you can give your vehicle at home, but top of David’s list is a vehicle’s tyres.

Tyres are the only contact between you and the road, so make it your business to ensure your vehicle’s tyres are always in perfect working order.

The legal tread depth limit is 1.6 mm, but in general, tyres should be replaced when tread depth is less than 3mm. Apart from the obvious safety issues, underinflated or worn tyres also increase fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.

The highly skilled Ford Motorcraft Service team are trained to keep your Ford running smoothly. A service includes engine oil, oil filter and air filter replacement, free eCheck, NCT/CVRT guarantee, price match guarantee and a complimentary vehicle wash.  Book your Ford car in for a Ford Motorcraft Service service online at ford.ie for just €129, a saving of €20 on the RRP.

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