Car servicing: When to get to a garage

It's easy to dismiss strange noises or warning lights on your dashboard, but you should get your car sorted quickly or risk long-term damage.

There is nothing worse than driving about in your car and hearing something that doesn't sound right or your dashboard being illuminated by warning lights.

Unfortunately, these things do happen from time to time and although there is never a good moment for it, if you can get something fixed as soon as you are alerted to a problem, it's going to save you some considerable time and money in the future.

Of course, car repairs are not cheap and are generally not budgeted for, which means you may have to dip into your savings to get the work done on it.

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It can be a frustrating time for you, especially if you need your car every day for work or for taking the kids to school, for example, but if you do have to leave your car in the garage, more often than not you will be supplied with a courtesy car if the work is expected to take a while.

There may be an instance when your car just gives up on you without any warning. This is rare but certainly can happen. We take a look at all the signs that your car may need a trip to the garage for repair work.

Servicing regularity

You should service your car every 12,000 miles or every 12 months, whichever comes first. You can get your service done at the same time as your MOT, but it's a good idea to check up on your car at other times of the year too.

If you have a car on finance, you are often able to pay for your service as part of your monthly repayments, making the cost more manageable than a one-off payment every year. 

Car servicing

A full service - the type you would get every year - will look at everything, both interior, and exterior, and make any necessary changes to keep your car in the best possible condition.

A major service includes things such as replacing the brake fluid, while an interim service is recommended if you drive in excess of 500 miles per week, as these will spot more minor issues that don't need immediate attention.

Service vs MOT

An MOT is a legal requirement that every car must undertake to ensure it is roadworthy and safe to drive. A service helps keep the car in good condition so that it can pass the MOT. So contrary to belief, they are not the same.

It is possible for your service and MOT to take place at the same time; this could potentially save money by doing them together.

If you don't service your car or ignore any warning signs, then you will fail your MOT and it'll cost you significantly more to get your car repaired and back out on the road.

Servicing costs

There's no fixed price and is very much dependent on the car and any potential issues that come with it. 

It's worth asking ahead of time so you are able to put a bit more money aside than be shocked when you turn up and find out it's much more expensive than you expected.

Generally, though, you should expect to pay anywhere between £150-£300. It's worth noting that this price is for the service itself and does not account for any issues that may require new parts to be fitted.


Dashboard warning lights

It's important not to ignore dashboard warning lights as these could indicate something is wrong before it gets past the point of no return.

It's dangerous to not get any potential issue sorted, especially if a yellow 'check engine' light appears as that could indicate something serious that could cause damage to yourself and other road users.

You should take some time to read your car's handbook to get a better understanding of what all the warning lights mean and when you should take action.


If you hear whining, scraping, squealing, or crunching noises, it's normally a sign that something isn't quite right. To be honest, if you hear any unnatural noise then it's worth taking action as soon as possible.

It could be something as minor as your exhaust pipe has come loose and is scraping a bit when going over bumps, or your engine could be whining, indicating that you may have overheating or battery problems.

Brakes, gears, the engine, and steering are definitely the most important areas that should be rectified as soon as you notice anything different about them, but be alert for anything unnatural.

If your car is pulling or vibrating when you apply your brakes, then it could indicate worn brake pads, steering issues, or a suspension problem.

This is definitely not safe and puts yourself and others in danger, leading to increased costs over the course of time.

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