How long does a full car service take?

How long does a full car service take?

A full car service is somewhat different from an MOT — it’s meant to maintain the car rather than merely check where it’s currently at. While an MOT might identify issues and check the minimum safety requirements for your car, regular servicing will help you keep an eye on the overall health of your car, and understand how you might be able to improve upon it.

So that means probably tinkering a bit during a regular service — making sure levels are correct and fluids, and sometimes gases, are topped up and that critical systems are working as they should (and if they aren’t speaking with you about getting them addressed).

So how long does a full car service take? It depends on the model, but generally, you can expect to be in and out in about 3-4 hours, assuming the garage doesn’t find any larger issues with your car.

How often should you get your car serviced?

While you should always check your manufacturer’s guidelines, many recommend a full service every 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first. It’s always best to check manufacturers’ recommendations because every 12 months for a full service is a broad guideline.

It may be that a specific part in your particular car model wears out and needs replacing a few months short of your second full service, or some similar situation. And who wants to be driving around for a few months with an entirely worn-out part? Nobody, not really. So 12 months is a good rule of thumb, but definitely check your manual, and take note of anything that may be unique to your car.

Other services include:

  • Interim, or short, services, which are recommended every 6 months or 6,000 miles.
  • Maintenance when things like oil and filters need replacing
  • Manufacturer servicing based on their recommended service schedule

Regular car servicing is important to help make sure your car stays in good repair, and help you identify serious problems before they get too big. It also helps reduce the impact of wear and tear by either regular top-ups, replacements or maintenance.

If you have the tools and the know-how (particularly for safety procedures), it is possible to do your own car servicing. To maintain your service books, you’d want to consider keeping receipts and taking photos as you probably don’t have your own stamp, and keeping clear records will probably help you keep track of it all in the future.

What does a full car service include?

A full car service includes a lot — what you might expect from something called “full service.” A specialist will check all the relevant parts or functions of your car, and it’s likely that more than one person will be going through the full service with your car.

All services, including full car services, should also follow manufacturers' recommendations about what to check at what age or mileage milestones in the life of your car.

To give you an idea, the more frequent check, known as the interim service, generally includes fewer checks than a full service. This usually looks at:

  • Bodywork and mirrors
  • Safety: brakes, warning lights, seatbelts, brake pads
  • Wear and tear: timing belt, windscreen wipers, aircon, steering, fan belts, air filter, battery, clutch, fuel lines, brake pipes, hoses, handbrake, tyres, brake pads
  • Fluid levels: gearbox oil, axel oil, engine oil
  • Corrosion checks
  • Leakage checks

In addition to what’s checked in the interim service, a full service also usually includes servicing:

  • Door hinges & locks
  • Coolant system leak checks
  • Throttle checked
  • Wear and tear: distributor cap, engine and gearbox mounts
  • Security and cranking tests on motor start
  • Visual inspection of radiator and coolant pipes
  • Wheel bearing checks
  • Wheel condition checks
  • Front and rear brake check

Once the servicing is done, your service book should get stamped. Neglecting this bit could make it a bit more difficult for you if you plan to sell your car on — service history is something a potential used car buyer will likely ask to see.

If there are any major faults or damage that needs fixing, the service team should come and speak to you before they start working on it, with expected costs and timeline to fix. This should also be the case if you just go in for an MOT or you get an MOT done at the same time as your full service. The team should also let you know if your car is safe to drive with the damage, regardless of whether or not you’ve gone in for your MOT.

How much does a car service cost?

The average full service cost for cars is between £130 and £190, with any fluids used to top up potentially charged separately. Of course, this is an average range, and what you pay will be affected by a few things — notably, how frequently (or aggressively) you drive the car, and what type of car you have.

For example, if you have a standard electric car because it doesn’t usually have a transmission or gearbox, the servicing can be less expensive to service.

Sometimes service centres will give you a discount on their MOT if you book a car service at the same time.

A few final thoughts…

An MOT helps protect everyone else on the road by making sure you’re driving a safe vehicle. Regular servicing helps give you peace of mind that you’re driving a well-maintained car, much like Home Insurance helps you feel at ease if the worst were to happen that your home is covered. Regular servicing is a proactive way to help make sure your car stays drivable, and likely for longer than if you didn’t do regular services, too.

So while it may feel like you’re losing a half-day a year to the service centre, you’re not, not really. It’s like you’re investing into your future health and continued ability to drive around and get where you need going. It’ll probably saving you a bit of time in the future that you might’ve spent on your car losing steam (potentially literally) down the track. So sit back, read a book, call your nan or enjoy a cuppa while your car is getting serviced and consider the time there something future you would likely appreciate.

Urban Jungle is not a financial advisor and information in this article should not be taken as advice or recommendation.