Hannah Gordon, our resident Mechanic, explains why servicing your car is important
A few years back when the recession was in full swing and people were watching every hard earned cent I noticed a huge decrease in servicing, going from doing 2-3 services a day this was becoming 2-3 services a week. Understandably the lack of disposable income played a huge role in this, customers just wanted the bare minimum done on their vehicles to get it through NCT’s and make it roadworthy. But from experience not servicing your vehicle regularly can come back and bite you very hard.
Servicing is an integral part of vehicle ownership, we rely so heavily on getting from A to B that when the unthinkable happens and our mode of transport breaks down it can often ruin our busy schedules.
I’m not saying that if you service your car regularly that it will never break down, but it will certainly help to reduce the risk.
Most modern cars now have service lights that appear on the dashboard highlighting that a service is coming up or due, so is there really any excuse for forgetting. I know from experience that consumers don’t fully understand the procedure involved with servicing a car, and often think that the NCT is basically the same process. An NCT looks at the safety of the vehicle and whether it is roadworthy, an NCT doesn’t include an engine inspection, and with a misbehaving engine you’re not going to get very far.
When a vehicle is serviced it should be completely drained of oil, the oil inspected for any impurities or metal fragments which could indicate engine wear. Oil is the blood of the engine and a poorly serviced vehicle may have thicker than normal oil, low oil level or a clogged up oil filter, all of which will limit your engines usable lifespan. Its hard to get across how important it is to regularly change the oil, a lot of manufacturers state that oil changes can be as much as 25,000 kilometres apart, I would never recommend this to a customer simply due to the effect old oil can have on expensive parts such as Turbos, Vacuum pumps and Camshaft chains. An engine has many vessels and channels inside that move oil all around the engine lubricating as it goes, channels can become clogged and starve the engine of oil, a more sensible interval would be 15,000 kilometres . The technology of oil has come a long way, thin oil such as 5w30 has now become the oil of choice for most cars, and low ash oil should be used with diesel engines that have a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF)
Air and Fuel filters are important to reduce foreign particles from entering the engines complicated combustion process. With modern engines the handful of sensors and valves are particularly susceptible to poor service intervals, and replacing these can prove very expensive indeed.
Within a service the brakes and suspension are all checked, the tyres are inspected for safe tread depths and tyre pressures are tested to ensure correct inflation. Lights, wipers and horn are also inspected, whether its just an oil service or a full service the car should be thoroughly checked over ensuring a clean bill of health and peace of mind.
Its important that during a service the fluids are checked, not just for the level but to ensure there are no leaks on the pipes. Its important that antifreeze is checked for its strength and that its able to deal with dipping temperatures.
The recurring argument that not servicing a vehicle saves money is not a long term solution and will often lead to a large bill in the future, even if you don’t intend on keeping the vehicle for many years a good and comprehensive service history is a tick in the box for potential buyers, no one wants to buy a car that has a patchy service history. Servicing allows potential problems to be highlighted before they get too dangerous, an NCT is 24 months apart, a lot can happen in that time, by getting the vehicle serviced in-between this time could save you from a potential accident occurring or a premature breakdown.
We all try and get the best economy out of our vehicles to limit our trips to the pumps, by having a yearly service and inspection the vehicles economy can be improved, a poorly running engine will use more fuel.
Its also important to remember that even if your car still has a manufacturers warranty you can still take it to any independent garage, don’t feel like you always need to take it back to the dealer and pay dealer prices, make sure you inform the garage that the car is still within its warranty period and that genuine manufacture parts need to be used.
Taking your car to a garage can be a daunting prospect, but its essential that servicing is carried out. Shop around and find a garage that has time to talk to you about the vehicle and what processes they have carried out, tell them exactly what you want from them and don’t let them try and confuse you with garage jargon. Remember the relatively small costs of servicing should prevent you from getting lumbered with a gigantic overdraft inducing bill.
15th April, 2018