How Long Does A Car Service Take? Costs & What’s Included

Any car owner should know that the easiest and most effective way to keep your vehicle in the best of health is to treat it with TLC. By maintaining it well and getting it serviced on a regular basis you can prevent bigger issues from occuring. In this article, we explain how long does a car service take, plus the costs and what is involved. 

Reasons To Get Your Car Serviced Regularly

Car Oil Service
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It may feel like a big hassle and a cost you could be doing without, but a service will save you money in the long run. Your engine will run more efficiently after clogged air filters, worn spark plugs and old engine oil are replaced, all improving your performance and MPG.

What’s more, many car warranties actually require you to regularly service your vehicle in order to continue your coverage. As such, it is very important to keep your car on a regular service schedule in order to prevent voiding your guarantee. Often, they will also demand you have the car serviced at its approved dealers only, who usually charge a premium for the privilege.  

Another reason to maintain a good service record is to aid the desirability of your car on the resale market. Owners who can prove that their vehicle has been regularly serviced will have a much easier time selling, and commanding higher prices than those who cannot. 

This higher resale value will not apply if an owner has serviced and maintained their own vehicle, even if they are very knowledgeable about mechanics. The service records are important to add this equity (and/or not voiding the manufacturer’s warranty) to your car.

Getting your vehicle serviced is a simple, quick task that is relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to the money it can save you further in the future. However, it’s not all about money, it can also prevent bigger mechanical inconveniences further down the road. An MOT does not check everything. There are engine maintenance issues best addressed by a good service schedule. 

How Often Should You Service Your Car?

Car Service
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It is not just a case of how often you should get a service, it is also what kind of service. The most basic service should be done every 6,000 miles or every six months, whichever comes sooner. More extensive services should be done on an annual basis.

  • Interim Service – after 6,000 miles, or every six months
  • Full Service – after 12,000 miles, or every twelve months
  • Major Service – after 24,000 miles, or every two years

These inervals are only an average, it’s best to check your handbook or service guide to see when your specific model’s intervals are.   

What is Included in a Car Service?

Car Oil Filter
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The three main kinds of services will offer different levels of checks. Let’s take a look at what they typically cover (however, all garages differ and you should check what you get for your money)

Interim Service

An interim service includes checking all the most important components of the car needed to keep it running smoothly on a daily basis. Car owners can also expect a garage to check for any external damage and assess whether their vehicle has any of the problems that regularly crop up. The main part of a service is an oil and filter change. This involves draining and replacing old, dirty engine oil and replacing filters. For most interim services, this will only be the oil filter however the air and cabin filter may also be changed if needed. 

A garage will also check all areas that often need to be tuned or topped up.  Among the many common things it checks are:

  • Brakes 
  • Lights
  • Clutch
  • Discs
  • Exhaust
  • Battery  
  • Steering 
  • Suspension
  • Spark plugs / glow plugs
  • Tyres
  • Drive Belt

Regarding the last on the list, tyres – maintaining good tyre pressure will greatly increase the longevity of your tyres. Furthermore, experts say up to 20% of your car’s energy consumption relates to its tyres. That is a lot of cost-savings if you do a lot of miles given the cost of petrol these days.

The garage will usually check a few other, smaller things during an interim check-up, such as the air-conditioning, windshield wipers, and the windscreen. If you own an electric car, the mechanic will also check the charging port and connectors.

Full Service

Basically, this is an in-depth examination of any issues your car might have, which may not have been noticed by you or the garage during the interim service.

When the garage performs a full service, they will look over all of the things that are usually covered in an interim service, but they will also include some very important items that are not covered including repacking the wheel bearings, topping up all fluids, checking the transmission oils, and examining the general safety of the vehicle. 

Major Service

In a major service, you get everything that a full service does, but in greater detail, so that nothing is overlooked.  As part of a major service, all the components of your vehicle will be inspected, as well as the health of your engine.

How Much is a Car Service?

Engine Maintenance
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As a ballpark figure, an interim service will cost somewhere between £75 to £125, and a full service somewhere between £150 – £250.  

How much it costs to get a car serviced does depend on its make, model, age and general condition, as well as whereabouts you are situated in the country.  A car will generally be more expensive to get serviced in central London than it will in Darlington, for example.

This price is obviously only for the service, and it does not include any additional parts or repairs that your vehicle might require.  You should note that not all garages will offer the same number of checks in any particular kind of service.

The service cost will be fixed for cars still under warranty, and you should stick to the manufacturer’s recommended repair plan so you do not void it.

As a rule of thumb, small vehicles with engines smaller than 2.0 litres will have lower servicing costs than larger cars. The servicing of performance cars, electric vehicles, and plug-in hybrids, on the other hand, can be quite expensive if specialist diagnostic equipment is needed.

The more common your car is, the better: popular little cars like the Ford Fiesta will cost less to get serviced as they have cheap parts that are readily available, do not usually get expensive faults, and are quicker and easier to repair when there are issues.

Many garages will give discounts if you arrange your service at the same time as when you get an MOT. As both should be done on an annual basis, it’s a good idea to get both done at the same time. It will save you time and money and is easier to remember to do.

How Long Does A Car Service Take? 

How long a car service takes will depend on a few different factors, including the age and model of your car, how often it has been serviced before, as well as the particular type of service you have requested.

The types of service include an interim service, full service and a major service. Many garages will offer things like “Winter Health Checks”, which are essentially a basic service. 

You should bear in mind that some garages will not get to start work on your car as soon as you drop it off, which may make it appear the service is taking longer than it actually does.

In the case of a small service, you will usually get your car back in 2 – 3 hours

Older models can take longer and will often require a far more thorough examination. This will likely extend the length of your garage visit by a couple of hours, but it is more than worth it in order to ensure your vehicle is in tip-top condition.

Your car could stay in the garage for longer than a day if there are complex issues that the mechanic needs to look into. With older or less common cars, parts, even for servicing, can be an issue and may need to be ordered. Electric vehicles and hybrids can add additional time still.


Audi 2.0 TFSI Engine
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Although it is not always cheap to have your car properly and regularly serviced, it is important to consider the many future expenses that a good service record can prevent. Often, large and expensive problems will start out as relatively minor issues.  More often than not, these can be easily caught by a mechanic if your car is being regularly assessed. 

There is no doubt that regular servicing extends the life of your vehicle and increases its functionality.  It’s important to keep your car in good condition, even if you don’t plan on selling it. Keeping your car regularly serviced means you will keep it running for much longer, and you will be kinder to the planet and your pocket as you will be using less fuel.


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