What is the simplest way of making your car more reliable?
Everyone wants their vehicle to be as reliable as possible. Whether it's for getting us back and forth to work, getting the kids to school, or going to the shops, we all rely on our vehicles. Despite that, many people neglect the one simple thing that can help eliminate most common mechanical and reliability issues - regular servicing.
What is servicing?
Servicing is the replacement of consumable parts on your vehicle. An engine is designed to work reliably for years, but in order to do so, certain elements of it need to be periodically refreshed or replaced.
Some common examples of service parts include:
- Engine oil
- Brake fluid
- Brake pads
- Fuel filter
- Air filter
- Oil filter
Services are usually split up into minor and major categories. With a minor service, you may only have the oil and oil filter changed. A major service, as the name implies, is more comprehensive and will replace most if not all consumables.
"You may not feel much of a difference when you have your vehicle serviced, as the vehicle may not drive any better. But that's the point, servicing is a long term investment that keeps your vehicle driving smoothly for a long time to come."
How often should you have a service?
Every vehicle is different, and in the owner's manual for your vehicle, you should find the manufacturer's recommendation for service schedules. They usually go either by time or mileage. So, for example, it could be every year or 12,000 miles driven, whichever comes first. You can have your vehicle serviced as often as you like; servicing your vehicle too often won't damage it but it also won't provide any real benefit. It's best to use your manufacturer's advice to determine your vehicle's service schedule.
Why is servicing so important?
Servicing is designed to keep your vehicle running optimally. For example, engine oil will begin to grow contaminated over time and the more it circulates through the engine. As engine oil grows older, it can become full of contaminants and start to get thicker and darker. This means it doesn't circulate through the engine so well. As oil is a lubricant, that means your engine isn't properly lubricated, which could ultimately result in it seizing.
The same is true for the fuel, air, and oil filters. They are designed to filter out contaminants, but over time they will become blocked up, which makes them less effective. These items are generally fairly affordable, and they're much more affordable than fixing the extensive problems they can cause if they are neglected.
You may not feel much of a difference when you have your vehicle serviced, as the vehicle may not drive any better. But that's the point, servicing is a long term investment that keeps your vehicle driving smoothly for a long time to come. Servicing also generally includes a thorough check over of the vehicle, which can help identify any future issues before they become a problem.
Who can service your vehicle?
You have some choices for getting your vehicle serviced. You may choose to service your vehicle yourself, for example. This is common with older vehicles as they tend to have simpler and more accessible mechanics. The downside is that you will not be able to provide a service stamp for the vehicle's service book, which may or may not cause some difficulties when you come to sell the car.
You can also choose to have your vehicle serviced by a local garage or independent specialist. Most garages offer servicing as a part of their general range of services. Prices will vary depending on the vehicle and whether you're having a major or minor service.
The other option you have is to get your vehicle serviced at the main manufacturer's dealer. This is generally the more expensive option, but many buyers put more value in a dealer-stamped service book, so you may find the investment is worth it overall when you come to sell the car. Some cars also now have digital service histories, which require access to the manufacturer's computer system.
Keeping your car affordable to run
Maintenance work is never fun, but it's a lot more preferable and more affordable than repair work. It also gives you some freedom to schedule the service at a time that suits you compared to a breakdown, which never occurs at a convenient time. When you combine regular servicing with other proactive purchases, such as scratch and dent insurance and tyre insurance from Direct Gap, you can considerably lower your potential ongoing running costs.
Simply checking over your vehicle regularly and ensuring it has been serviced in line with the manufacturer recommendations is key for making it as reliable and dependable as possible. If your vehicle's service is overdue, get it booked as a matter of priority.