How to know when your car is due a service

While you should always stick to your vehicle’s service schedule, there are various tell-tale signs that your car is due a service.  The important thing is to always be aware of any changes in how your vehicle drives, sounds and feels, as well as taking action when warning lights appear.  Changes to any aspect of your vehicle’s performance or your driving experience should never be ignored: it is always best to check any issues you may notice before more potential problems arise and prove costly to yourself and the life of the vehicle.

Read on for the signs that you car is due a service…

The most obvious sign is the service light that will appear on the dashboard on most modern cars when your vehicle is due a scheduled service – usually in the shape of a car due a servicespanner.  You should act on this as soon as possible to maintain your car’s performance for longer.

The engine warning light may appear on the dash.  A yellow ‘check engine’ light is a sign that there may be any number of potential problems with your engine, so it is always best to check the cause and get a diagnostic check as soon as possible.

Any changes in brake performance, such as the brakes feeling spongy or juddering when applied, may be a sign that the discs and pads need replacing or even that there is an issue with the steering or suspension.  Any brake problems are a safety issue for yourself and other road users, so these must be checked as soon as you notice the changes.

If you notice your car making strange noises that weren’t there before, it could signal a number of potential issues.  Noise whilst braking should always be checked out in case of car servicesevere brake pad wear, and knocking noises may suggest an issue with wheel bearings or a worn CV joint, among other things.  A whining noise from under the bonnet or any uneven our loud engine noise may well be routine easy-fixes but, if left unchecked, these can lead to various costly issues and shouldn’t be ignored.

Steam or smoke from under the bonnet is something that is hard to ignore and should be addressed immediately.  There can be various causes for this, but it is wise to check the coolant level first as this is the most common, and a lesson in regularly checking and topping up your coolant!  If you see blue smoke coming from your car, you should stop immediately and have it recovered to a garage.  Many of the possible causes of this are vehicle servicerelated to wear on components – issues usually identified in services, so regular vehicle checks should prevent this from happening to you.

If you notice any changes in your fuel efficiency (or miles per gallon/ mpg), this may also suggest a service is required.  Engine oil – replaced in a full service – degrades over time so becomes less effective at lubricating the engine components if left.  Old spark plugs and filters can also affect your mpg due to the burden it puts on the engine and will be replaced in a service.

Changes in vehicle handling, such as your car pulling to the left or right, may signal that your wheel alignment is out, which will be checked in a service.  This can affect the life of your tyres and the mpg you get out of your car, not to mention the safety of your vehicle.

All vehicles should be serviced at regular intervals, but these points may signal that a service is overdue or that a more regular service is required, perhaps due to the age of the vehicle or the mileage it is doing.  Keeping a regular schedule can save you the time and money that comes with unexpectedly experiencing the above issues, as well as potentially making the car more valuable if you sell it, so make sure to keep track of when your vehicle is due to a service!