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 and 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.

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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.

pouring car oil car service

How often should you service your car?

As a general rule of thumb, professional car servicing is recommended every six months or 10,000km, whichever comes first. But if you’ve an older model, it could need more regular servicing, such as every 5000km. And for newer models, you may be able to service them every 12 months, or every 15,000-20,000km.

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.

→Related article: New Zealand’s Best Car Servicing Provider Revealed

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 10,000 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 on more of a yearly basis. 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.

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author andrew broadley

About the author of this page

This report was written by Canstar Content Producer, Andrew Broadley. Andrew is an experienced writer with a wide range of industry experience. Starting out, he cut his teeth working as a writer for print and online magazines, and he has worked in both journalism and editorial roles. His content has covered lifestyle and culture, marketing and, more recently, finance for Canstar.

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