Even if you get your car serviced every year, it might not be enough to stop it screeching to a halt and landing you with a huge bill. Even if you are paying for a “full service” at a dealership, it does not mean you are safe, according to Duncan McClure Fisher, founder of MotorEasy, which provides car servicing, MOTs, repairs and protection products.
“We know there’s a huge problem with car servicing in the UK because we’re the ones who pick up the pieces when things go wrong,” Mr McClure Fisher says. “Very often a car owner has made every effort to keep their vehicle in the best possible shape, having it serviced regularly and keeping up with the maintenance.
“But unless that service actually involves all the jobs that need doing, and is conducted precisely to the manufacturer’s guidelines, you’re likely to have a problem.”
Mr McClure Fisher advises that you find out exactly what a service entails before agreeing to it. A reputable company should be able to give you a job sheet.
Racing driver, motor dealer and TV presenter Rebecca Jackson also urges motorists to wise up. “It can be difficult to juggle a tight family budget with the needs of your car,” she says. “It can be tempting to opt for the cheapest servicing option each year, but this can be a false economy. It really does pay to follow your manufacturer’s servicing guidelines to the letter to avoid disappointment down the line.”
MotorEasy’s team of engineers have identified six big car servicing fails, and calculated how much of a dent they might put in your bank balance.
Not taking the wheels off
Potential cost: vehicle write-off and risk of personal injury
A proper service will involve the garage technician taking all the wheels off your car to check the condition of your brakes. But many garages do not bother – instead simply peeking through the gaps in your alloys or relying on the last MOT brake test.
Loose or broken pads, and leaks inside the brake drums, cannot be seen with the wheels on. Brakes cannot be measured to see how much life there is left in them. That is not ideal if you are doing high mileage. Many garages have a waiting room where you can watch the service taking place. If the wheels are not being taken off, you have got a problem.
Not checking the cambelt tensioner and water pump
Potential cost: £3,000 to £20,000 for engine replacement
Your cambelt is part of the system that synchronises the rotation of the engine, opening and closing valves at the proper times. If it is not working correctly, the engine falls out of synch and can disintegrate.
If you do not change the belt at the right interval it can snap, writing the engine off in the process. Most people are aware of this and make sure the belt is changed.
But if you change the belt but not the tensioners and pumps associated with it they can seize, tearing the new belt and obliterating the engine. Cambelt tensioner and water pump replacement typically costs between £300 and £800 on top of a normal service.
Not changing both oil filters and oil
Potential cost: £3,000 to £20,000 engine failure
This is the most important part of any service, and should be done annually. Changing the oil is pointless unless the oil filter is also replaced. Old oil will lose its viscosity, causing engine components to wear prematurely.
Not oiling the gearbox and differential
Potential cost: £3,000 to £6,000 to repair
Just like your engine, your gearbox and differential (the set of gears driving the shafts that spin your wheels) also need regular oil changes. Yet these vital changes are often missed from substandard services. Check for your car’s guidelines on when to change the oil, and make sure it gets done. It only costs from £200 extra on a typical service and will not need to be done each year.
Not checking the fuel filter
Potential cost: £1,000 to £4,000 to repair
The fuel filter is not an expensive part to replace (around £200) and should be done in accordance with your manufacturer’s service requirements. But it often gets overlooked.
The fuel filter removes any debris that is lurking in your fuel tank and stops it getting into the engine. This debris can cause damage to the high-pressure pump and injectors, leading to a large repair bill and lots of inconvenience for the owner.
Not cleaning the brake calipers
Potential cost: £1,000 and safety risk
Like most things on your vehicle, keeping things clean and free from corrosion can really increase the part’s longevity. This is key with your brake calipers, which squeeze your brake disc when you press the pedal, forcing the wheels to slow down.
Neglect them and they will get dirty and corroded and stop working correctly. Calipers should be cleaned with a scrubbing brush and brake fluid to get rid of excess grease and dirt. Some calipers can cost around £1,000 to replace, so you could save yourself a small fortune.
Find out more
This article, brought to you by MotorEasy, is about the dos and don’ts of car servicing.
MotorEasy offer a range of products designed to help protect, maintain and repair your car for less.
Market leading warranty plans include parts and labour and the company’s experts deal with the garages that are carrying out repairs. They even pay them directly. Drivers get their own online account where they can track repairs.
MotorEasy offers hassle-free servicing with peace of mind, as well as a potential saving of 40pc on manufacturers’ prices. To find out how to protect your car, save money and avoid hassle, go to motoreasy.com