Car servicing – how important is it really?

Article contents

It’s something used car buyers look for when shopping for a motor, but just how much value does that FSH really add?

Car service

It’s one of the most sought-after features in a used car – a full-service history, or FSH as you’ll often see in ads. But why are these little stamps in a booklet like catnip to car buyers? And is a FSH really going to get you anymore money for your car if you’re looking to sell? 

Let’s take a look…

According to Autoexpress, cars without any kind of service history are worth between 5 and 10% less than cars with a full-service history. And with used car prices continuing to rise - the average in the UK now costs almost £13,000 according to Autotrader – that could mean private sellers getting an extra £1,300 in their back pocket. 

So that generously stamped service book certainly seems worth it for the extra cash on offer. 

A full-service history shows potential buyers that a car’s been well looked after and should be reliable, as it’s been checked over at regular intervals by a professional. It also helps people discover the true mileage, so they don’t end up with a clocked car.  

What is a car service?

A car service is a routine health check for your vehicle that looks at everything from fluid levels to the engine, brakes and all the parts and components in between.  A mechanic can carry out checks on over 50 different components to make sure your car’s in tip top condition. The most common checks include:

  • Engine oil and filter check and replacement 
  • Suspension 
  • Brake fluid check and top up 
  • Full brake check
  • Steering alignment 
  • Car battery health 
  • Shock absorbers check 

There are a variety of services on offer, and what you’ll need will depend on the make and model of your vehicle plus any warranty expectations. 

The most common types of service are:

  • Basic or interim service
  • Oil and filter change
  • Full service/major service
  • Manufacturer service

How much does a car service cost?

The cost will vary depending on how much work is needed and where you take your car for the work, but the average cost of a basic car service is around £125, according to the Money Advice Service. It’s worth shopping around and seeing if you can get a discount by having the service and MOT done at the same time. 

While we’re on the topic of MOTs, there is a lot of overlap between a MOT and service – the team at the Friday ad blog estimates 75-85% of the MOT is covered in a service. But they’re distinctly different beasts.

An MOT is a legal requirement that checks if a car’s roadworthy, and you can’t drive a car over three-years-old without one (there are some exceptions for classics of a certain age).  A service isn’t mandatory, you can drive without one, and it follows detailed guidelines set out by the vehicle manufacturer to keep your car in peak condition. But be aware, for brand new cars you may need to stick to a servicing schedule for the first few years (often three) to make sure you don’t void the warranty.   

But despite knowing a full-service history makes for a healthy car and helps retain some of the car’s value, millions of drivers choose to skip servicing.

A recent survey by Motoring Research reveals half of UK drivers (47%) worry about having to pay for unexpected car repairs, with 24% of those worriers saying this uncertainty stops them from getting their car serviced.

We all know cars are expensive and I’m sure we’ve all had that sinking feeling when the garage calls to update you on the work that’s needed, “goodbye hundreds of pounds” … So, could a car servicing plan be the answer to our car-servicing prayers? 

Are car servicing plans worth it?

If you’re looking to avoid potentially costly one-off bills, a car service plan could be the way to go. 
It allows you to spread the cost of servicing to an inflation-proof monthly price, meaning you only pay the price of a service on the day you buy it. So, for example, if servicing prices jump up from £125 to £150, you’ll only pay £125.

You can choose a brand you trust for your servicing plan – many different firms offer service plans including car manufacturers, car dealerships and insurance companies.  When it comes to price, it can vary widely depending on who you choose, but a service at a franchised dealership will almost certainly be more expensive than an independent garage. 

Some companies offering service plans only work with approved garages and repairers, so if you’re not into shopping around or you’re not sure what’s the best garage in your area, a service plan can take this hassle away. 

How often do I need to get my car serviced?

Car servicing works to a schedule and while there’s no one size fits all, a general rule of thumb to work to is once a year or every 10,000 miles.  

Modern cars often have a self-diagnostic system which alerts you when a service is due. But if not, each manufacturer has its own recommended servicing schedule, so check your car manual for more information.
When you get your car serviced, make sure you get your book stamped and keep your invoice to show what work’s been carried out – another tick in the box if you want to sell.