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Why servicing your motor is no place for a shortcut

What’s included in a car service and do I really need one?

Image: Newspress.ie

YOUR NEXT SERVICE is due in…

It’s a deadline that’s easy to overlook but in the long run, getting your head around keeping your car in good nick will mean a better driving experience and – should you wish – a better resale price.

When a car is manufactured it comes with a service schedule that the manufacturer believes will keep it running safely and smoothly. As a rule of thumb, it is recommended that you service your car once a year or every 20,000km, roughly about 12,500 miles in old money, but check the individual guidelines for your make and model.

Car components including belts, brakes, filters, fluids, pads and plugs need to be changed at specific intervals. Checking these regularly will prolong the life of the car and its parts.

What exactly goes on in a service?

Source: Giphy

A car service involves on average five to 15 changes to the car.

Changes to the car can include:

  • Air filter
  • Fuel filter (where applicable)
  • Oil and oil filter
  • Pollen filter (where applicable)
  • Spark plugs (where applicable)
  • Anti-freeze
  • Brake fluid
  • Steering fluid
  • Washer fluid

Car services involve on average 40 to 85 checks to the car.

Checks to the car can include:

  • Auxiliary drive belts
  • Battery
  • Exhaust system condition (including mountings)
  • Front brake pads, rear brake shoes / pads
  • Lights and bulbs
  • Rotate tyres
  • Shocks, struts, springs, bushes and links
  • Tyre tread depths
  • Wipers

There are three main types of service levels; basic, interim and full. Some places also offer ‘major’ services.

A basic service usually includes an oil and filter change, a visual inspection and a top up of the brake, steering and washer fluids and anti-freeze/coolant as well as around ten car checks.

An interim service is recommended every six months. It includes everything in the basic service plus an extra 40 checks and changes, on average. The full-service builds on these again giving the car a thorough going over, ticking off, on average, 70 different checks.

But does my car really need a service?

Let’s look at the key components of a service and what they do.

Oil and oil filter change

Source: Giphy

These are the life-giver to a car. Oil regulates the car’s temperature and lubricates the metal engine parts, reducing friction and preventing sparks and overheating. It reduces wear and tear and prolongs the life of the car’s engine.

Oil travels from the top of the engine to the sump and back up again, passing through the oil filter, which catches and prevents any debris from getting into the oil. If the filter isn’t clean and doesn’t catch the debris the particles can get stuck between the moving parts of the engine and cause major damage.

Therefore, it is crucial to keep the oil and filter clean to prevent engine damage, as replacing an engine is an expensive headache that nobody wants.

During the car service, the oil and oil filter are checked and changed as necessary.

Air filter change

Combustion engines need air to operate – without air the fuels can’t burn and provide the burst of energy needed to power the engine. However, much like the oil in the car, the air needed must be clean in order to stop dirt getting into the engine, which can cause poor performance and shorten the life of the car. Clogged up air filters won’t efficiently clean the air, therefore, they need to be changed regularly.

During the car service, the air filter is check and changed as necessary.

Brake fluid check

Source: Giphy

Brake fluid plays a crucial role in the car’s braking system. It acts as a lubricant and helps prevent corrosion. The boiling point of the car’s braking fluid is important in order for the car to brake efficiently. If the fluid reaches temperatures above boiling point it can add vapour and moisture to the fluid, making the fluid less efficient, which can negatively affect the braking system causing brake failure.

During the car service, the brake fluid boiling point is checked and the fluid topped up or changed as necessary.

Lights and bulbs check

These checks help keep you and other drivers safe on the roads by making sure your vehicle is adequately visible. These checks can also help your car from failing its NCT as one of the main reasons cited for cars failing is faulty lights and the third most common reason for failing the NCT is headlamp alignment.

During the car service, the lights and bulbs are checked as is the alignment, which can be adjusted as necessary.

Tyre and wheel checks

Source: Blazepress

These checks keep you and the car on the right side of the law. Damaged, deteriorated or bald tyres can all lead to hefty fines and penalty points on your licence as well as failing the NCT. Not having roadworthy tyres is also very dangerous as tyres are the only thing that connects your car to the road.

During the car service, the tyres are checked as is the wheel alignment, which can be adjusted as necessary.

Services can vary in price, a lot, therefore it is good to shop around, ask what is included in each service and go to a reputable garage or mechanic or see if your manufacturer offers car servicing.

Getting your car serviced regularly can save you money in costly repairs and fines and prolong the life of your motor.

Read: Your guide to driving in Europe

Read: Reader’s routes – my best road trip

About the author:

Melanie May  / https://www.melaniemay.com

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