When to book
The majority of modern cars will remind you when you need a service with a dashboard message or warning light, so figuring out when to book is easy. Failing that, you should aim to have your car serviced annually, or by a particular mileage suggested by the manufacturer. This is often around 12,000 miles, but you should have a look in your car’s handbook to make sure.
What to expect from your service
The level of servicing you should expect to receive depends largely on the service interval that your car is at. For instance, most first services on new cars will include an oil and filter change, whilst the second service covers the replacement of all components with a 2 year life span. Barring any major hiccups, this cycle then continues for the lifetime of the car. It’s also a great opportunity to get a general health check on your car, so the technician will give it a thorough inspection to check for any malfunctions or excessive wear and tear. Importantly, fixing these issues will normally come at an additional cost.
So where to now?
The next step is deciding who you’d like to service your car. All three options have their pros and cons, so make sure you have a proper think about which is right for you:
Because these specialise in particular brands, you can guarantee the technicians will be trained by your car’s manufacturer and use only genuine parts, tools and diagnostic equipment. As you might imagine however, this comes with a cost, and often turns out to be the most expensive option.
Independent garages are generally cheaper than their branded counterparts, and are often used by car owners once their warranty has expired. That’s not to say that you’re necessarily sacrificing quality however, as many independents are trained in just a few brands and so still have the specialist knowledge your car needs to be kept in tip top condition.
Before you go handing over your keys, make sure the garage is trained to work on your car model and use manufacturer-branded parts.
These franchises offer a speedy service for a fixed price, with technicians who are trained to a very similar level to independent garages. They’ll be happy to work across a whole range of brands, but because they’re built for speed, these garages are unlikely to devote huge amounts of time to any one issue.
A myth about warranty
It’s a common misconception that getting your car serviced outside of a dealership will void your warranty but, provided the technicians use genuine parts and equipment, any independent dealer can do the job without invalidating your warranty.