Main dealer car servicing - a complete guide

There’s a lot of talk about main dealer car servicing, but what is it and why is it important for your car?

main dealer servicing

When you drop your car off to be serviced at a main dealership, it will involve significantly more than just a quick oil change. There are plenty of other bits of work that’ll be carried out, including dozens of checks to ensure your car is safe and in optimum condition.

In short, car servicing is something you simply can’t afford to ignore.

If you have a newer car that's still covered by its warranty, then you must have your car serviced in accordance with the manufacturer's guidelines. If you miss your car's services then you could find its warranty is void – which could cause expense and hassle later on.

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It's important to mention that you don’t have to use a main dealership to service your car. But doing so ensures the correct parts are used and the right jobs are carried out at the right time.

What does a car service include? 

A full car service can cover a range of things. At its most basic, it means changing engine oil along with the oil and air filters. But depending on your car's condition, age and mileage, it can also include changing spark plugs, antifreeze (sometimes called coolant) and brake or power-steering fluid.

Main dealerships will also conduct many checks to identify other potential issues that could require attention. These include important safety-related items such as tyres and brakes.

Benefits of main dealer servicing

There are some 5,000 main dealerships in the UK and many have a service department where you can have service and maintenance work carried out on your car. Although many owners will choose to take their car back to the dealership that sold them their car, there's no obligation to do so. As long as you use a dealer that sells new cars from your car's brand, you’ll be fine.

Carmakers spend a fortune making sure owners know their cars are tough and reliable. But just one poor experience can undo all of that good work. That means that carmakers ensure their dealerships invest huge sums in training their workshop staff and using the latest equipment.

• Most reliable cars to buy now

And even if you have a less-than-perfect experience, there's the opportunity to raise your problem with customer service teams and the carmaker's headquarters.

Main dealers can also provide some behind-the-scenes services that you wouldn’t get elsewhere. You might find your car is given some software upgrades or even some non-essential recall work at no extra charge.

Car mechanic, servicing, fix, exhaust, spanner

If something should go wrong with your car once its warranty has expired, you could find the manufacturer will make a goodwill gesture to contribute to the cost of repairs if you’ve maintained your full main dealer service history. Of course, that depends entirely on the fault, the cost and how soon after the warranty ended the problem occurred, so you shouldn’t rely on it.

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It's also worth bearing in mind that a car with a main dealer service history will be easier to sell on in future. That's because buyers can have total peace of mind that the car has been serviced correctly. You could even find your car is worth more as a result – something that can help pay, in part, for the additional cost of main dealer servicing. 

So keep all your car's paperwork safe, including the service history book.

Car servicing costs

The exact cost of car servicing varies from one dealer to another and average prices around the country can fluctuate as well. Plus, some manufacturers will have more expensive service rates than others. 

Some manufacturers will vary the cost of each annual service based on the work carried out. Your car might need a fairly minor service one year, but a more in-depth service the next. 

For example, a cambelt might only need replacing every eight years, but can involve a great deal of work.

Either way, the costs will be clearly displayed, limiting your unexpected bills. 

Fixed-price car servicing

Increasingly car manufacturers are offering fixed-price service plans. For one-off or regular monthly payments, your car will remain fully serviced and you won’t encounter any unexpected bills.

You can even pay for three or five years’ worth of servicing up front, so you have even less to worry about. Sometimes you can include this cost in your car's finance package.

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Again, the prices vary from one manufacturer to another, but are a useful way of allowing you to budget for these additional costs.

Car servicing deals

Eagle-eyed motorists can save cash by keeping an eye out for car servicing promotions. Some main dealers will offer you a free courtesy car to keep you moving while your car is being worked on. Others offer deals such as a year's worth of breakdown cover.

It's worth looking for low-cost (or free) seasonal health checks, too. These are particularly popular at the start of winter and ensure a range of peace-of-mind checks on your car.

Car servicing under warranty

It's important that you pay close attention to your car's service intervals. Check your handbook or speak to your dealer to ensure you don’t leave it too long, or drive too many miles, between services.

In order to keep your car's warranty valid, your car will need to be serviced using approved parts. You can get your car serviced anywhere, but by going to a main dealer, you can be sure those all-important approved parts are used.

Car servicing under warranty

Most cars need servicing every year, but some models only require a service once every two years. Most cars have fixed mileage gaps between services – usually between 12,000 and 20,000 miles – but some cars will automatically alert you when they need servicing.

These variable service intervals are based on how you drive – drive a car hard, or make lots of very short journeys, and you’ll need to see your dealer more frequently.

• Winter car checklist - preparing your car for winter• Winter tyres - are they worth it?• How car servicing can save you money• The DIY car maintenance you can't ignore

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Had any servicing horror stories? Let us know in the comments below!

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