Car mechanic checking engine oil level performing car services

How often should you have your car serviced? Well, since you asked… every month. No – every week. Only on the days you drive it. All right – that’s a bit much. In all honesty (yes, mechanics can be honest), it depends… to a degree. Before you click away in frustration, let’s take a look at the general rule of thumb.

The general rule of thumb regarding car services

Cars are pretty intelligent these days. In fact, some can even tell when they need a service and they’ll pop a light up on the dashboard to let their owners know. Your car may not have this ability if it’s a few years old, but all cars have an owner’s manual which lists the service intervals and which operations must be carried out.

If your car is under warranty, you’ll want to stick closely to what the manual stipulates or your warranty may be voided.

If it’s not under warranty, or you threw the owner’s manual away because it was taking up too much space in the glovebox, the general rule of thumb is to have your car serviced every six-twelve months or every 10,000-15,000km – whichever comes first.

What if there’s nothing wrong with my car?

Excuse my bluntness, but how do you know? Cars are loyal, silent toilers, and they’ll put up with a lot before you’re aware there’s an issue. Just because it starts every time and makes the same noises, doesn’t mean your car isn’t in need of some TLC.

For instance, degradation of engine oil can cause massive problems that don’t become apparent until it’s too late. Engine oil lubricates all the moving metal parts that allow your car to function, keeping them clean and unworn. Over time, though, heat causes the oil to degrade, which leads to engine wear. This isn’t easy to notice as a driver, which is why we recommend six monthly oil check-ups.

Apart from engine and mechanical issues, wheels can cop a hammering on our roads, which can lead to misalignment and poor fuel economy. You’ll be forking out for new tyres sooner than is otherwise necessary and visiting the petrol station with ever-increasing frequency.

I only do short trips. Can I wait longer between services?

It’s true that the type of driving you do determines – to some degree – the wear to your car. If you don’t cover many kilometres and you mainly use your car for short errands, components like tyres, brakes, dampers and brushes will probably last longer than in other cars that cover a lot of ground.

BUT, some components wear in relation to time, not distance. Oil is one we’ve already covered. The timing belt is another. This can wear without you noticing. When it breaks, however, I guarantee that you WILL notice. A snapped timing belt can cause untold damage to your car, damage that will be far more expensive than replacing a worn timing belt before it breaks.

So, short trips may not wear certain components as quickly as long hauls, but this won’t stop other components from breaking down.

When in doubt, talk to your friendly mechanic

If you think your style of driving is unique and the general rule of thumb doesn’t apply to you, then come in and have a chat with us. Once we know how you treat your car and what it’s used for, we can provide you with a service calendar tailored to your habits.

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