Costs of car servicing: A couple of things to consider
- The age of the car
- How many miles it has covered?
Firstly let me tell you these are how most people will work out a cost, but you should also consider the past service history, especially if you haven’t owned the car from new, as so many people have a basic service every year and miss replacing some filters or even sparkplugs.
Keep in mind the quality of the parts being used can also vary.
Oil- it is not all the same
Many years ago it would be ok to just about put any oil in your car, those who remember the Castrol GTX adverts it more or less implied it was the best and only oil for your car, now though engines are a lot more refined and come in many different viscosities (thicknesses) and car manufacturers often will only grant a licence to an oil company once it has been tested and certified ok for their engine.
- Recommended/Correct grade oil is used
- The oil is not a cheap brand you have never heard of as it is unlikely to be certified
To find out what is the correct oil for your car just check your owner’s manual.
Yes, the cost of service varies by the quality of parts and oil used but also the cost of the labour involved, let’s use the example of a nice big BMW dealership versus an independent as an example to show you how this is sometimes worked out:
BMW will have a set time for the job say 1.2 Hours at £120 an hour that is a labour cost of £144
Other garages may look at the job and think it is 4 hours work at £36 an hour total labour cost £144
The other thing to think about is will the stamp in your service book have a bearing on the value of the car when you want to change it, the stamp can give some reassurance that the correct service has been done at the correct time, much like a degree at Oxford University versus a diploma at a local college.
Why are some service items optional?
The main ones that stick out for me are Brake fluid change, Air conditioning service and cambelt replacements.
Brake fluid changes
Brake Fluid changes have always been an optional part of a service every two or three years depending which manufacturer you are looking at, there doesn’t seem to be a stipulation on when it needs changing, the reason it needs changing is that Brake fluid is Hygroscopic (moisture is its best friend) this will over time cause the fluid to lose its efficiency as the moisture gets into the brake pipes, cylinders and callipers, this changes the effectiveness of the fluid (compressing brake fluid and compressing moisture have different results), it can be tested at any point but should be changed when recommended by the vehicles manufacturer.
Interesting point Brake fluid condition is now part of the MOT test and it comes down to the opinion of the tester.
Air conditioning servicing
It is normally an every 3-year recommendation; you may have experienced different efficiency of A/C especially in hot weather.
You A/C system relies on keeping the gas in the system of pipes in your vehicle and has oil in the pipes as well to keep all the joints sealed if you don’t run you’re A/C often the joints may dry out and leak gas which will lower the effectiveness of you’re A/C.
The compressor in your A/C would also benefit from being run often.
So, it is always worth running your air conditioning for a journey once a week to keep your system as healthy as possible.
De-bugging your air conditioning is something completely different (Air conditioning is what we refer to as a wet system this means the like brake fluid has moisture as its friend AC has bacteria as its mate), Debugging involves running the air conditioning and putting an antibacterial misting/fogger through the ventilation system to kill any horrible bugs breeding in there, this can often be unnoticed but sometimes a stale smell can be experienced when you turn the air conditioning on.
Cambelts always come with a recommended change cycle, sometimes 5 years or 50,000 miles or 10 Years or 100,000 miles or even longer you will need to consult your owner’s handbook for which relates to your car as even within a model range this can be different depending on the engine you have.
The cambelt is a major part of your engine (it connects the top half of the engine to the bottom and allows the valves to open and close at the correct times) if it snaps the top half stops turning but the bottom half continues this means that valves that should be shut will be open and because of the tight tolerances of modern engines this will cause the pistons to hit the valves which in many cases causes unrepairable damage, often resulting in an engine replacement which I am sure you will agree is not going to be a cheap repair.
The normal cambelt replacement will involve new tensioners, the cambelt and onetime bolt replacements, it can be advisable to change the water pump and auxiliary belt at the same time because if the water pump fails you will need to do the whole job again and cambelts are never a small job to do.