How much is a car service?

Last updated by on November 8th, 2022 and verified by The Parkers Team

With insurance, fuel and tax, cars are expensive before you even think about maintenance but servicing is essential to keep your motor in tip top condition – here’s what to think about and what you can expect it to cost.

How often should you service your car?

You should aim to get your car serviced every year at the very least. Manufacturers will generally include a ‘service schedule’ in your car handbook which sets out what needs checking and when.

Reading your car’s manual might not be very exciting but sticking to the advice given should prolong the life of your car and keep it working efficiently saving you money in the long run.

What is included in a car service?

Car servicing varies by garage so always check what’s included before you agree to book your car in. The main types of servicing you can choose from are:

  • Basic service (sometimes called an interim service) – usually done every six months or 6,000 miles, whichever is sooner. Interim services are typically aimed at anyone that wants extra peace of mind, for instance, if you cover long distances on a regular basis.A basic service will generally include an oil and filter change, a top up of brake fluid, steering fluid, antifreeze and washer fluid and should also include a number of safety checks on things like the brakes, wipers, steering, clutch and tyres. It should also include a general check of all key components.
  • Full service – usually done every 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever is sooner. These services should include everything the garage offers in a basic service but also provide a more detailed review of the engine and brake system (things like the cooling fan, radiator, brake fluid).
  • Major service – usually done every two years or 24,000 miles, whichever is sooner. This type of service is the most comprehensive (and expensive) you can get and includes everything covered in a full service plus a change of fuel filters and speak plugs but again, check to see what’s included.

Some garages may offer a simple oil and oil filter change service but bear in mind that no specific safety checks will be carried out.

Black cars elevated on a garage ramp

What service does my car need?

Whether you feel your car needs an interim service will depend on things like how many miles you drive and the type of car you have but your manufacturer’s service schedule should be able to help you decide the service needed.

Most new cars will have an onboard warning system which will tell you when your car service is due and sometimes, it will specify the type of service you need, for example, Mercedes-Benz have A and B services.

How much is a full car service?

Cost really comes down to where you go, the type of service you book and the car you have. Official dealerships are likely to be more expensive than independent garages, but they will have expertise in their own particular car marque and will only use approved parts.

As a guide, you should expect to budget an average of £125 for a basic service but prices could start as low as £69. A full car service could set you back a few hundred pounds and more depending on what you own – for example servicing a sports car or 4×4 is likely to cost more as it may need specialist oil and parts.

If your car is still under warranty, you’ll probably be expected to take it for servicing at a dealership or it could void the contract.

How long does a car service take?

The garage should give you an estimate but if there are no unforeseen issues then it should take around three hours for a full service.

Mechanic repairing a car in a gararge

What is a ’54 point’ car service?

Some garages advertise their services to show the number of different things they check in order to demonstrate the level of detail they go in to.

So, if you booked your car in for a ’54-point service’ you can expect the garage to check 54 different things which is roughly in line with a full service.

However, as garages differ you should always ask rather than assume as some centres offer a ’76-point full service’.

How to check car service history

Your car should come with a service book which gets stamped every time it’s serviced. If it doesn’t have one, then look for the car’s VIN (vehicle identification number) which should be somewhere on the doorframe or engine.

Every VIN is different (like a fingerprint) so if you contact the manufacturer, they should be able to identify the car and tell you which dealership it originally came from – the dealership may then be able to fill you in on its history.

If you don’t have any luck with the VIN and manufacturer, you can check a car’s MOT status. It won’t give you details of servicing, but it will assure you that it’s roadworthy and highlight any parts that had previously failed – you can do this online at GOV.UK, check the MOT history of a vehicle.

Are MOTs and car services the same?

In short – no, they aren’t the same and one can’t replace the other. All cars more than three years old need an MOT every year, by law (MOT stands for Ministry of Transport which introduced the original test).

The MOT test is a government designed checklist that ensures your car is roadworthy and assesses things like your headlights and tyre tread. Your car has to meet every condition before it can pass the test.

A service on the other hand is not a test, it’s a health-check for your car to make sure it’s working as best it can. Unlike an MOT test, your car can’t fail a service.

Keep car costs down with

At, we know that you want to keep the cost of car ownership down without cutting back on peace of mind. You can get a quote online in minutes, or if you’d prefer to talk to someone, a member of the team will be happy to help – call them on 0330 022 8814.

Other articles you might find useful

When is my MOT due?
When to change your cambelt
Do I need breakdown cover?

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