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How often do I really need to service my car?

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Updated 10 Oct 2019

Bruce McMahon

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CARS need love and attention.

Sure, today’s road machines are more reliable than before thanks to new engineering and new materials.

But modern cars are also more sophisticated, thanks to new engineering and new materials.

So while carburetors, which often needed tuning, have gone the way of the FJ, fuel injectors now need to be in good nick.

While today’s engine and transmission oils are slicker, over-used or low fluids can cause expensive mechanical dramas.

There’s a swag of reasons why cars should be serviced as recommended in the vehicle’s handbook.

Remember, this can be done by a qualified mechanic and does not have to be at a dealership; though a dealer’s service department should have access to the latest diagnostic tools and knowledge of particular models.

Care of mechanicals

A car’s regular service keeps mechanicals and ancillaries in tip-top shape for best vehicle efficiencies. And peace of mind.

Some come up every 10,000 kilometres, some at longer intervals; some are for minor checks and updates - perhaps for new oil, air and fuel filters and a general inspection.

Others are for major work - such as engine and transmission oil changes, wheel alignments and a flushing of the coolant system.

These services, as dictated by the vehicle’s handbook, are good insurance against breakdowns as well as ensuring the car or ute is operating at its maximum performance.

Safety and roadworthiness

Dropping your car off at the trusted mechanic at the right time also keeps you safe and on the right side of the law.

Brakes, tyres, steering, lights and more need to be in good condition to keep a car safe and roadworthy.

Trained mechanics spot issues - such as worn brake discs or irregular tyre wear - quicker than most motorists.

And how often do you pull up behind a car with one of its brake lights out?

Checking the basics should be a quick routine on the home driveway now and then but to ensure a car is safe to drive, keep up with those authorised services.

Warranty and resale

While servicing, by the book, by a registered mechanic will not affect the car’s warranty it will need to go back to the dealer if warranty work is needed.

Best to use genuine parts while the vehicle is under warranty to save some arguments down the track.

Though, some minor items like oil filters may be non-genuine replacements as long as they meet, or exceed, manufacturers’ specifications

And remember to have the logbook stamped and signed at each service.

The car’s service history is an important document for any warranty claims and to show prospective buyers if selling; properly-serviced cars will generally have a better resale value.

Happy motoring

Serviced cars run better, smoother and safer.

Fresh oils and fluids, belts tensioned right, correct tyre pressures plus wheels balanced and aligned helps keep a vehicle running as the manufacturer intended.

All this should make the car easier on fuel too.

Time perhaps to head to AutoGuru, find a mechanic, and book your car’s next service on time.

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Written By

Bruce McMahon

Bruce McMahon is a Queensland-based journalist who’s spent a fair slice of his career dealing with automotive matters.

His first car was a 1949 Riley Roadster, followed by a mix of machinery from Porsches to Jeeps, Alfa Romeos and Range Rovers through to the current four-wheel drive Mazda ute.

He’s driven the Nurburgring and the Tanami Tracks.