How much your car will cost to service is one of the many motoring questions that harks back to finding out how long a piece of string might be. However, while the final, unquestionably answer will depend on the car itself and where you’re getting it serviced, there are a few pointers that can at least give you a ballpark figure…
1. Is main dealer servicing automatically more expensive?
Yes, is the short answer here, but it’s not quite as simple as a yes/no answer. It might be more sensible to ask whether or not main dealer servicing is good value for money. The answer to that question will depend on your car. If it’s a new car, then it’s very probably best to bring it back to a main dealer for servicing for the first few years at least. Most brands offer ‘inclusive servicing’ packs, which cover the costs of the first three services, bar any accidental damage. Obviously, your warranty will cover more or less anything that’s broken in that period, so main dealer servicing in the early years of a car’s life makes lots of sense. There are also additional plans and add-ons such as tyre plans, which will automatically replace a worn or damaged tyre.
How much will it cost? Those inclusive service packages generally cost between €300 and €500, if you buy them outright with the car. Many brands now offer monthly payment service plans, and these usually cost up to €20 per month, a figure that’s included in your monthly PCP or loan repayments for the most part.
2. What about non-franchised servicing?
Once you’ve moved beyond the warranty and inclusive servicing part of your car’s life, main dealer servicing starts to look less appealing — not least with labour costs approaching €160 an hour in some outlets. Non-franchised servicing can vary from big national or regional brands, such as Atlas Auto Service, or Fast Fit to smaller, locally-owned garages. There’s no hard and fast rule of one being better than another. Many people will have history with local garages, and may well regard their expertise as entirely adequate, although it’s worth remembering that as cars become more and more high-tech, smaller outlets may occasionally struggle to keep up with the technology race. Where electric cars are concerned, for example, no-one but an authorised expert should attempt to repair or remove a battery pack. As for prices, generally speaking a service which includes changing all fluids, filters, wiper blades, and giving the car a safety inspection should cost between €100 and €300, depending on the type of service and the car itself.
3. What are the different types of service?
Generally speaking, your car’s servicing will run in a two-year cycle of major and interim servicing. So, the cost depends what they'll check in the service. An interim service will usually involve little more than an oil and oil filter change, and having the car plugged into a diagnostic system to see if there are any faults in the background. Those faults, if they’re there, may then cost extra to repair. A major service will involve changing oil and oil filters, the air filter, fuel filter, spark plugs, refill with anti-freeze, and at the very least checking the brake pads and discs to see if they need to be changed (again, those will usually involve an extra cost). Finally, the car’s service warning light will be reset, and your service book will be stamped.
4. Is it worth all the cost?
Irish drivers, in general, hate to spend what they perceive as ‘extra’ money on a car once it’s been purchased, but keeping your car properly serviced is absolutely vital. For a start, it’s a key driver of safety — a properly serviced car will have major systems such as lights and wipers in good order, along with really vital things such as brakes, tyres, and steering systems. There are other items that have knock-on effects — for example, worn suspension can actually extend your braking distances by several metres, which can be the difference between having a crash or not. Beyond the immediate safety benefits, there’s a significant improvement to a car’s resale value if it has a full and complete service history. Previous research by Motorcheck found that a full service history can improve your car’s second hand value by as much as €1,700. In that sense if nothing else, good servicing generally pays for itself.