How Often Should You Service Your Car?

Car servicing can feel like an expensive chore. So how often should you service your car, and is there really any harm to putting it off?

Servicing your car is an important part of keeping it running smoothly. But a car service can easily cost a few hundred dollars, so it can be tempting to forgo it. Especially if you only need your car to get from A to B. As opposed to A to B as smoothly and comfortably as possible.

However, a car service is about a lot more than keeping all the bells and whistles in tip-top order. It’s important for preventing serious problems that could potentially cause an accident. So whatever the value of your car, it’s a good idea to get it serviced regularly.

So how often should you service your car? Canstar explores.

What is a car service?

A car service can range from a routine once-over, comprising topping up of fluids and an oil and filter change, to a more comprehensive inspection, testing a variety of components, which can take hours. But in general, a car service is a maintenance check: cleaning, refilling, replacing and inspecting the components that keep cars running.

This differs from a Warrant of Fitness (WoF), which is a safety inspection. A WoF ensures the vehicle is safe to drive, with no faults or serious issues. The processes and checklists are different, and although there may be some overlap in what is checked, the intentions of WoFs and car servicing are not the same.

Why get a car service?

Car servicing provides a list of benefits, such as:

  • Helps prevent larger issues from arising that could cost more to fix down the line
  • Maintains fuel economy
  • Extends the lifespan of a vehicle
  • Improves the feel and comfort of how a vehicle drives
  • Improves the value and saleability of a vehicle, as regular servicing shows a history of good vehicle maintenance

Although car servicing isn’t compulsory, it’s certainly advised. Driving a vehicle that hasn’t been serviced isn’t necessarily unsafe (unlike a car without a WoF) but you won’t be getting the most out of it. And perhaps more importantly, it could lead to serious mechanical faults and/or breakdowns.

How often should you service your car?

As a general rule of thumb, professional car servicing is recommended every 12 months or 20,000km, whichever comes first. But if you’ve an older model, it could need more regular servicing, such as every six months.

If you’re feeling unsure, ask your local service provider, or check the vehicle’s service booklet or owner’s manual. As this will probably tell you how often you should be servicing.

When working out what’s best for your car, you need to take into consideration:

  • Its make, model and year
  • How often you use it (kilometres travelled)
  • Your normal type of driving, such as city or country driving

You should also pay attention to the things you can do yourself in terms of basic maintenance between services. This includes checking tyre pressure and engine oil levels and ensuring all the car’s lights are operational, etc.

Of course, if you notice any issues between services (such as warning lights coming on, or irregular noises) it’s important to get the problem looked at sooner rather than later.

Compare Outstanding Value Car Insurance with Canstar

Looking for great value car insurance for you and your family? Each year, we release our car insurance awards, including winners for Insurer of the Year, Outstanding Value, and Most Satisfied Customers. As part of our award results, we also publish our Outstanding Value Star Ratings, covering car insurance for different age groups. Below are our top-rated providers in the drivers aged 30-49 category. Click here to view our complete car insurance Star Ratings for all age groups.

Comprehensive Cover: Drivers 30-49:

Provider Star Rating

See here for our ratings methodology. The table above is an abridged version of our research. For the full results of our latest Car Insurance Ratings and Award, click here.

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What happens if you skip your car service?

It can be tempting to skip a car service. Especially for those who drive cheaper, older runarounds. But it’s important to understand that car servicing isn’t just about topping up your wiper fluid or checking the A/C. It’s about maintaining vital components that could otherwise cause serious damage to your vehicle.

By skipping your car servicing, you can cause much bigger, and more expensive problems down the line. The biggest potential issue is your car’s oil. The breakdown of oil or the sludging of oil can both wreak havoc on your car engine. If that happens, fixing your engine will be a lot more costly than a service.

Furthermore, car servicing keeps your car running at its most efficient, so by skipping servicing you could find your fuel economy gets worse. This can lead to added pain at the pump.

Regardless of whether you want to maintain your top-of-the-line Tesla, or just a 2002 Honda Civic, car servicing is equally important.

What if you barely drive?

Even if you’re not putting anything close to 20,000 clicks on your car, it still pays to have it regularly serviced. Most fluids in your vehicle are susceptible to moisture, oxidation and degradation, so need to be inspected and replaced at specified intervals. Therefore, even a car that’s going unused needs servicing.

But if your car really is only driven occasionally, and it is a well-maintained, newer model, you may be able to service it less frequently. But if the cost of a service isn’t an issue for you, there’s certainly no harm in more regular servicing.

Again, it pays to check your user manual or with your regular car servicing provider to get their opinion.

How much does a car service cost?

The price of a car service depends on a range of factors. Providers all have different costs, and most will have more than one package on offer, ranging from a basic service up to more comprehensive options. The make, model, and fuel type of your vehicle may also impact the price.

In general, a car service can cost anywhere from $100 – $350. Keep in mind that services at the lower end will be much more basic.

For a comprehensive breakdown of car servicing costs, and different packages on offer, click here.

Looking for a great car loan?

The table below displays some of the unsecured personal loan products available on Canstar’s database for a three-year loan of $10,000 in Auckland (some may have links to lenders’ websites). The products are sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest) followed by company name (alphabetical). Use Canstar’s personal loan comparison selector to view a wider range of products on Canstar’s database. Canstar may earn a fee for referrals.

Compare car loans with Canstar


About the author of this page

This report was written by Canstar Content Producer, Caitlin Bingham. Caitlin is an experienced writer whose passion for creativity led her to study communication and journalism. She began her career freelancing as a content writer, before joining the Canstar team.

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