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How Do I Know When My Car Needs to be Serviced?

Car Service Worker Repairing Vehicle - Tottington Motor Company Ltd

Getting your car serviced regularly is very important if you want to keep it running reliably. There are some very easy ways you can tell it’s time for your vehicle to be serviced, and if you want your vehicle to be dependable, you shouldn’t ignore them.

Check the service schedule

The easiest way of knowing when your vehicle needs to be serviced is by using the service schedule. Every vehicle should have a service book. When your vehicle is serviced, the garage doing it will stamp the book, date it, and write the mileage at the time of service. This is usually called the “service history” when you’re buying a used vehicle, and it’s very important. It’s the easiest way to keep track of services.

Generally speaking, most manufacturers recommend a service every twelve months or 12,000 miles – whichever happens sooner. If your vehicle has gone over a year without so much as a basic service or has driven more than roughly 12,000 miles, you should get it serviced. If you’ve bought a vehicle and don’t know when it was last serviced, or you can’t remember when the last time you had it done was, it’s time to do it now.

Check for dashboard lights or messages

Many cars have some sort of indicator in the dashboard to tell you that a service is due. This either works by syncing with the computer’s date or the milometer. Either way, the vehicle will know when it’s due to be serviced and it will let you know.

The key is understanding what the warning looks like. In some vehicles, it’s very obvious and comes up as a message in the dashboard saying that a service is due. Some vehicles even specify the type of service required, i.e. major service or minor/intermittent service. Others, however, just have a light, so it’s important to read your owner’s manual and make sure you understand what all the warning lights mean.

Differences in the way the vehicle drives

Sometimes, when a vehicle needs a service, you will be able to notice changes in the way it drives. You may, for example, notice it’s becoming a little harder to start, or the engine is turning over for longer before firing. This can indicate that your spark plugs are fouling and need to be replaced. Your vehicle might also become smoky if your oil is old and contaminated and hasn’t been changed.

You may also notice a difference in the way the vehicle feels and performs under braking. For example, when the brake pads need to be changed, you can often hear a squealing sound as the material of the pad has rubbed away enough to cause metal friction. This is usually a sign that you should get your brake pads replaced, your brakes thoroughly checked, and your vehicle serviced sooner rather than later.

If your vehicle has a cambelt, hearing a squealing sound coming from the engine may indicate the belt is wearing or loose. If your vehicle has an interference engine, the cambelt failing can have disastrous consequences. If you hear this noise, or you don’t know when your cambelt was last changed, you should consider getting it examined and possibly replaced as soon as you can.

Keeping your vehicle serviced saves you money

Ensuring you stick by your vehicle’s maintenance and service schedule will help protect you against unexpected breakdowns and issues. The best thing you can do for your vehicle is to keep it serviced regularly, so be sure to book your vehicle in for a service as soon as it’s required.

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