Technology in cars like electronic fuel injection and electronic control units certainly have simplified servicing and "tuning" a car if the right computer equipment is used but they have also made the process more involved for the mechanic (technician) who must be trained to a higher level.
There is much more to servicing a modern car than simply giving it a "grease and oil change." The old $35 dollar grease and oil might have passed muster a decade ago but is in most cases insufficient attention for a new car with its many sophisticated systems.
Car servicing can involve up to 50 or more component and system checks and adjustments. And despite complaints about the cost from some car owners, it's worth the money. Maintaining the engine in peak economy, performance and emissions condition requires electronic monitoring and fine adjustment according to the diagnostic computer read out.
A correctly serviced and tuned engine will have a longer, more economical service life than one that is run into the ground with minimal or inappropriate attention. It can also pre-warn or potentially major problems with the engine and transmission.
A full service will include fluid level checks and or changes depending on the system. Hydraulic fluid is hydroscopic (attracts and absorbs water) and should be changed at regular intervals. Water in hydraulic fluid has the potential to corrode the system from the inside with predictable results.
Coolant is another critical fluid to a car's performance and engine longevity. Coolant degrades over time and loses its ability to inhibit corrosion inside the engine and also its cooling efficiency.
A full service will pick up any potential cooling system problem including leaks from the radiator, cap, water pump, cylinder head or gasket and hoses. A full service will also among other things, tell you the condition of the brake pads, battery condition, steering alignment, tyre tread depth, suspension condition, oil leaks of any sort, exhaust leaks or corrosion, even how well the door locks are working.
Tools & Advice
Do I have to get my car serviced by a main dealer?
You are not obliged (since October 2003) to get the car serviced by a franchise dealer during the warranty period.
You must though get it serviced according to the manufacturer's recommended schedule and criteria using only manufacturer approved parts.
The legislation only applies to the part of the warranty offered by the manufacturer, i.e. insurance-backed extended warranties offered by dealers are not covered and may stipulate different conditions.
If you do get the car serviced outside the dealer network you must make sure it's done to the maker's recommended schedule and criteria using approved parts. You must also keep records so you can demonstrate to the manufacturer that servicing was undertaken to their requirements.
Must I get air conditioning serviced?
Regular servicing is important for health and to maintain the system working effectively. Up to 15% of the refrigerant gas will be lost annually.
- Run your air conditioning at least once a week throughout the year.
- Have the refrigerant gas checked regularly and topped up to manufacturers' recommended levels.
- Help improve hygiene and air quality with a regular cabin filter change, as it can become blocked with pollen.
- A regular air duct clean helps remove the bacteria and fungi that can cause unpleasant odours.
- Service air-conditioning units every 30,000 miles or two years to avoid costly repairs.
Clutch life can be seriously affected by poor driving style:
- Resting a foot on the pedal (riding the clutch)
- Holding the car on the clutch on hills rather than using the handbrake, or
- Letting the clutch slip excessively