Often we wait for the service indicator warning to illuminate on the dash before making a booking. Assuming, that is, that the last time the vehicle was serviced the indicator was re-set!?
New cars and their warranty
Whilst a vehicle is still under the manufacturer's warranty, usually 3 years, it must be serviced as per the manufacturer's specification. This is often mis-construed as meaning that it has to be serviced by the Main Dealer. However, this is not the case. Under The EC Block Exemption Regulation 1400/2002 (October 2003), go to www.dti.gov.uk/consumers/fact-sheets/page38070.html for further information, motorists have more flexibility where they choose to get their servicing carried out as long as the service is carried out as per the manufacturer's service schedule.
Understanding Service Intervals
Vehicles of the same model and year of manufacture can often have different service intervals so there are two important factors to consider when planning your car service - time intervals and mileage. An example is 12,000 miles or 12 months and this means that the car must be serviced every 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever occurs first. Therefore, if 12,000 miles is clocked up in less than 12 months then it must be serviced at that point. Conversely, even if the vehicle has extremely low mileage it must still be serviced every 12 months in order to validate the warranty.
For cars who no longer have the warranty to fulfil, choosing a service that meets the vehicle's requirements and also represents good value for money is made harder since you cannot drive past a garage without seeing a service advertised for £99. But what does it include? What parts are replaced? What parts should be replaced and how often? One thing is for sure, most reputable garages could not afford to carry out a comprehensive service for £99. The two important factors to consider here are age of the vehicle and service history. A minor service will usually consist of replacement of the engine oil and filter. The rest of the service will be made up of visual checks of the lights, levels and braking system etc.
Therefore, it is vital that a more comprehensive service is carried out at the appropriate mileage intervals to ensure that the air filter, fuel filter, pollen filter and spark plugs (if petrol) are also renewed since if these items are not renewed regularly the vehicle will not run as efficiently and it will cost you money in the long run. It is equally important that the fluids, particularly brake fluid and antifreeze, are also renewed regularly irrespective of mileage since the fluid becomes less efficient the older it becomes. The wheels should also be taken off to inspect, clean and adjust the brakes and a thorough examination of the vehicle is advisable to flag up any repairs that may be required in the near future. For example, if a leaking water pump is left unnoticed, it could result in further extensive damage resulting in an expensive repair that could have been avoided if it had been rectified sooner.
In sum, before you book your vehicle in for service ask your garage what service components should be renewed given the age and mileage of the vehicle. You can then make an informed decision as to whether a £99 service is appropriate? Many garages have Special Offers in conjunction with more comprehensive service packages, such as a FREE Mot, which sometimes represent better value for money, so be sure to ask.