back to articles | April 02, 2024 | Moses Mwangi

Categories: Useful Automotive Information

How Often Should You Service Your Car?

Owning a car comes with responsibilities, one of which is maintenance. Keeping your vehicle in top shape will ensure your safety on the road and provide an enjoyable driving experience.


Owning a car comes with responsibilities, one of which is maintenance. Keeping your vehicle in top shape will ensure your safety on the road and provide an enjoyable driving experience. Regular servicing ensures your car performs optimally, reducing the risk of breakdowns and extending its lifespan.

With that said, how often should you service your vehicle, and is it mandatory? This guide will cover this question in detail, but first, let's understand what a car service is.

What is a car service?

A car service is a routine check-up and maintenance procedure for your vehicle. It involves taking the car to a mechanic to ensure everything runs smoothly and to help identify potential issues before they become serious. A car service can range in complexity from basic to comprehensive but usually involves;

  • Inspections: A mechanic will visually check various components of your car, looking for signs of wear and tear, leaks, or damage. This might include the engine, brakes, tires, suspension, and fluid levels.
  • Replacements: Certain parts, such as the engine oil and oil filter, are often replaced during a service. Other parts like air filters, spark plugs, or wiper blades might also be replaced depending on the service type and mileage.
  • Top-ups: Fluids like engine coolant, windshield washer fluid, and power steering fluid might be topped up to ensure they are at the recommended levels.
  • Adjustments: Some components, like tire pressure or alignment, might be adjusted to optimize performance and safety.

Why is a car service important?

You should take your car to a professional mechanic for routine servicing and maintenance for several reasons. Here are just a few of the reasons.

  • It improves the longevity of your vehicle - wear and tear are normal in all machines, and vehicles are not exceptional. However, replacing fluids and worn-out components enables your car to run at its best, improving its longevity.
  • Saves you money in the long run - regular servicing maximizes engine performance and improves fuel efficiency. Moreover, worn-out parts could cause a breakdown, requiring costly roadside assistance.
  • It helps with safety - worn-out parts can compromise the performance and safety of your car. However, when these parts are checked and replaced, it enhances your safety and that of other road users.
  • Car service is fundamental to maintaining a car's warranty - the manufacturers know the importance of a car service, and one way to keep your car warranty is to have it serviced at the intervals recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Maximizes vehicle resale value - buyers of used cars look for well-maintained vehicles because no one wants an old car that will break down anytime soon. A regular car service history gives buyers confidence in the vehicle and gives you an edge when setting the selling price.

How often should you service your car?

Most car manufacturers recommend a full service once a year or every 12,000 miles, whichever comes first. However, this is a general guideline, and the best way to determine the ideal service interval for your car is to check your owner's manual.

The manufacturer knows the vehicle best. They know the parts they have put in and how often they need maintenance. The manual recommends a maintenance schedule for your car's model and engine.

However, apart from manufacturers ' recommendations, several other factors can influence how often your car needs service. They include;


Vehicles driven extensively experience more wear and tear. The engine oil breaks down faster, and fluids like coolant may need more frequent top-ups. If your car covers above 12,000 miles annually, it will require more frequent servicing, probably every six months or 6,000 miles. Conversely, vehicles used less often may not experience the same level of wear and tear; for instance, cars with under 6000 miles annually. While adhering to the manufacturer's recommended service intervals is crucial, you can extend the intervals slightly to 18 months or 10,000 miles.

Driving conditions

Stop-and-go traffic, frequent short trips, off-roading, or towing heavy loads stress the engine, transmission, and brakes. These conditions can lead to faster oil degradation, increased wear on brake pads, and stress on the cooling system.

If this is your driving condition, your car might need more frequent servicing, at least once every six months or 6,000 miles, to address these demands and prevent potential problems. However, if you usually drive on highways with minimal stop-and-go traffic, you can stick with the manufacturer-recommended service intervals.

Age of your car

As cars age, various parts naturally wear down. Seals might become less effective, leading to minor leaks. Hoses can crack, and components like spark plugs or shock absorbers might require replacement more frequently. In this case, the vehicle may need more frequent servicing every ten months or 10,000 miles. However, with newer cars, the manufacturer-recommended intervals are sufficient.

Types of car services

Generally, there are two types of car servicing: interim service and full service. However, different garages might have various packages, including three or four-car services. One other common type of car service is the major service. Before booking a car service, check the service details to ensure you're getting value for money and not just paying extra for a package with a fancy name.

Interim car service

An interim service is usually recommended every six months or 6,000 miles. It's generally for vehicles with higher mileage than 12,000 annually. It includes essential checks and replacements like oil changes, filter checks, lights, tires, and fluid top-ups.

Full car service

Full services are done annually or every 12,000 miles. They include everything in an interim service, plus additional inspections and replacements. It may include an air filter change, extensive brake inspection, fuel filter or spark plugs change, shock absorbers, and wheel bearing inspection.

Major car service

This is the most extensive service and involves a thorough vehicle inspection. It is usually recommended once every two years or every 24,000 miles. It includes everything in the full car service package plus replacement of parts that should be replaced every two years.

Warning signs your car needs service

Older vehicles rely primarily on mileage for service intervals. Newer vehicles have an in-vehicle maintenance reminder to inform you when the car needs maintenance. Here are warning signs to watch out for.

  • Strange noises: Unusual noises like clunking, grinding, or squealing can indicate issues with brakes, suspension, or other components.
  • Check engine light: This illuminated light signifies a problem detected by the car's computer. While it might not always be a significant issue, it shouldn't be ignored. Take your vehicle to a mechanic for diagnosis using a scan tool.
  • Vibrations: Feeling vibrations in the steering wheel, seat, or throughout the car can indicate problems with tire balancing, wheel alignment, or engine mounts.
  • Fluid leaks: Leaks under your car can indicate issues with engine oil, coolant, or other fluids. Park on a clean surface to identify the leaking fluid's color and consistency, which can help pinpoint the source of the problem.
  • Decreased performance: A noticeable acceleration, fuel efficiency, or handling decline can indicate various underlying issues. Visit a mechanic as soon as possible.

How long does a car service last?

How long a car service will last depends on the type of service and mechanic workload. Generally, an interim car service will last one to two hours, a full service will take three to four hours, while a major service will take up to 6 hours. We recommend scheduling your service appointment in advance so the mechanic can allocate sufficient time for your car.

Summing it up

How often you should service your car will depend on your manufacturer's recommendation. Check the car manual for this information. However, your car's annual mileage, driving conditions, and age will also influence the frequency of car service. If you are not sure, consult a trusted mechanic.

Are you looking to own your first dream car? Get a finance quote now and see how easy it can be to realize your dream of becoming a car owner.