Are people putting off servicing their cars due to the current cost of living crisis?

Amid the ongoing cost of living crisis, individuals find themselves grappling with tough financial decisions. As household budgets tighten, people are forced to prioritise expenses and make difficult choices. Unfortunately, one area that is often overlooked is the regular servicing and maintenance of their vehicles. In this blog, we will explore the significance of car servicing, the consequences of neglecting it, and why individuals are opting to forgo this essential aspect of vehicle care.

A photo of a male mechanic doing a car service under the bonnet

What is Car Servicing?

Car servicing refers to the routine maintenance and inspection of a vehicle to ensure its optimal performance, safety, and longevity. It typically includes tasks such as oil and filter changes, tire rotations, brake inspections, fluid checks, and other preventative measures recommended by the manufacturer. Here is an overview of a typical car service:

  • Oil and Filter Change: This involves draining the old engine oil and replacing it with fresh oil and replacing the oil filter.
  • Fluid Checks and Top-ups: The service technician will inspect various fluids in the vehicle, including coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and windshield washer fluid. If necessary, these fluids will be topped up or replaced to maintain proper levels and performance.
  • Tire Inspection and Rotation: The condition and tread depth of the tires will be assessed. Tire pressure will be checked and adjusted as needed. The tires may be rotated to ensure even wear and extend their lifespan.
  • Brake System Inspection: The braking system, including brake pads, discs, and brake fluid, will be examined for signs of wear, damage, or fluid leaks. Sometimes brake components will be replaced or serviced to ensure optimal braking performance.
  • Battery Check: The battery will be inspected to assess its condition and ensure proper functioning. The technician may clean the battery terminals and connections if needed.
  • Air Filter Replacement: A cars air filter prevents dirt and debris from entering the engine. A clogged air filter can reduce engine performance and fuel efficiency, so it is typically replaced during a service.
  • Spark Plug Replacement: Spark plugs play a vital role in igniting the air-fuel mixture in the engine. Over time, spark plugs can wear out, leading to reduced fuel efficiency and engine misfires. Therefore, they are often replaced during servicing.
  • Visual Inspection: The service technician will visually inspect various components of the vehicle, including belts, hoses, suspension, exhaust system, and lights, to identify any visible signs of wear, damage, or potential issues.
  • Diagnostic Scans: Modern vehicles are equipped with onboard computer systems that can detect and store error codes related to various components. A diagnostic scan may be performed to identify any underlying issues or malfunctions that may not be apparent during visual inspections.
An image of a male mechanic under a car completing a car service

Why is Car Servicing Important?

Regular car servicing is essential for maintaining the health and reliability of your car. Here are a few reasons why it should never be overlooked:

  • Safety: Servicing helps identify potential safety issues, ensuring that critical components such as brakes, tires, and suspension systems are functioning correctly. Neglecting these vital checks could compromise your safety and that of other road users.
  • Longevity: Just like regular health check-ups keep our bodies in good shape, servicing keeps vehicles running smoothly and extends their lifespan. By addressing minor issues promptly, you can prevent them from escalating into major and costly problems down the road.
  • Resale Value: Well-maintained vehicles tend to retain higher resale values. A comprehensive service history demonstrates that you have taken care of your car, giving potential buyers confidence and increasing its market worth.
  • Warranty Compliance: For those who have purchased a new car or have an extended warranty, adhering to the manufacturer’s recommended service intervals is often a requirement to maintain the warranty’s validity. Failure to do so may void the warranty coverage.

What is the impact of not getting your car serviced?

Choosing to skip or delay car servicing can have far-reaching consequences that extend beyond immediate financial relief.

  • Reduced performance
  • Expensive Repairs: Preventable issues left unaddressed can escalate into significant problems, necessitating extensive repairs. What could have been a simple fix during routine servicing might turn into a costly ordeal that strains your budget.
  • Safety Hazards: Neglected maintenance can compromise the safety features of your vehicle, increasing the risk of accidents or breakdowns on the road.
  • Higher Running Costs: A poorly maintained vehicle consumes more fuel, resulting in increased running costs. Regular servicing helps optimise fuel efficiency, saving you money in the long run.
A male in a black and white suit holding a glass tablet with charts and warranty

Why Are Customers Choosing Not to Service Their Cars?

The cost-of-living crisis has forced individuals to make difficult choices and prioritise essential expenses.

  • Financial Constraints: The rising cost of living, inflation, and stagnant wages have left many individuals struggling to make ends meet. In such circumstances, car servicing might be seen as an expendable expense when faced with more immediate financial burdens.
  • Lack of Awareness: Some people may not fully understand the importance of regular car servicing or the potential consequences of neglecting it. Educating individuals about the long-term benefits and cost savings associated with servicing could help change this perception.
  • Prioritisation: When faced with limited resources, individuals often prioritise other pressing needs, such as housing, food, and healthcare, over vehicle maintenance. In these challenging times, car servicing may take a backseat to more immediate concerns.
  • Delayed Maintenance: To try and save money, some car owners may opt to delay servicing, hoping to stretch the time between appointments. Unfortunately, this approach can lead to more significant problems and higher costs in the future.

How much does it cost to get your car serviced in the UK?

How much does a typical car service cost in the UK? Well, the answer is a bit like asking how long a piece of string is—it can vary depending on various factors. But let’s dive into it and get a ballpark figure of what you might expect to pay for keeping your wheels in tip-top shape!

First things first, the cost of a car service in the UK will depend on where you live, the type of vehicle you have, the service provider you choose, and the specific service package you opt for. As a general guideline, here are estimated price ranges for car servicing in the UK:

  • Interim Service: An interim service typically includes basic checks and maintenance tasks. Prices can range from £80 to £150, depending on the vehicle make, model, and service provider.
  • Full Service: A full service is more comprehensive and involves a thorough inspection of the vehicle’s components. Prices generally range from £150 to £300, depending on factors such as vehicle type and service provider.
  • Major Service: A major service is typically recommended every two to three years or after covering a significant mileage. It includes extensive checks and replacement of various components. Prices can range from £250 to £500, depending on the vehicle and service provider.
A card machine on a orange background with someone making a contactless payment

How frequently should you get your vehicle serviced?

How often should you pamper your vehicle with a service? Well, just like humans need regular check-ups to stay healthy, cars also benefit from routine maintenance. But the frequency of car servicing can vary depending on a few key factors. Let’s break it down!

Manufacturer’s Recommendations:

Your car’s manufacturer knows it best, so the first place to check is your vehicle’s owner’s manual. It’s like the car’s bible, filled with valuable information. In there, you’ll find the recommended service intervals specifically tailored for your make and model. These guidelines provide a solid foundation for keeping your car in top condition.

Time vs. Mileage:

Generally, car servicing is recommended either based on time or mileage, whichever comes first. For example, your manual might suggest servicing every 12 months or 10,000 miles—whichever milestone arrives sooner. So, if you’re a frequent road-tripper or commute long distances, you might reach the mileage interval before the time interval, and vice versa.

Driving Conditions:

The way you drive and the conditions you encounter can impact your car’s service needs. If you subject your vehicle to more demanding conditions—such as frequent stop-and-go city driving, towing heavy loads, or driving in dusty or extreme weather—it may require more frequent servicing to maintain optimal performance.

Age of the Vehicle:

As cars age, their maintenance needs might change. Older vehicles might require more frequent check-ups and attention to keep them running smoothly. Consult your owner manual for any additional recommendations specific to the age of your vehicle.

Two mechanics undertaking a car service under a car.

Remember, regular servicing is essential for the overall health and longevity of your car. It allows mechanics to catch potential issues before they become major headaches and ensures your vehicle continues to operate efficiently and safely.

While the cost of living crisis continues to wreak havoc on household budgets, it is important to recognise the significance of regular car servicing. Neglecting this essential aspect of vehicle care can have long-term consequences, impacting safety, performance, and overall financial well-being. By prioritising car servicing, individuals can mitigate potential risks, reduce future expenses, and ensure their vehicles remain reliable and safe. As we navigate these challenging times, let’s not forget the value of proper vehicle maintenance in safeguarding our mobility and peace of mind.