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Expert Advice: How often should you service your car?

Just like a visit to the dentist or doctor, servicing a vehicle is one of those things many people tend to try avoid until they are left with absolutely no choice.

By skipping your car’s service, you’re putting yourself at greater risk of vehicle breakdown, NCT failure and expensive repair bills down the line – and general safety.

With the assistance of Elaine Gibson from the Road Safety Authority (RSA), we’ve got the inside track on why and when a vehicle service is necessary.

Why is getting your car serviced is so important?

It is the responsibility of the owner and/or driver of a vehicle to make sure it is in a roadworthy condition at all times when used in a public place. All parts and equipment of a vehicle must be in good and efficient working order. It is not enough that your car has a valid NCT disc on the windscreen. A vehicle needs to be serviced in line with manufacturer’s recommendations in between roadworthiness tests as well. It is your legal obligation to do so. Unfortunately, some motorists continue to think that once their car passes the NCT it doesn’t need to be serviced until the next test or until a warning light comes on.

How crucial is it to the safety of your vehicle and the people inside it?

Many drivers consider servicing an expense, but this is vital to ensure your safety and the safety of other road users, and significantly reduces the chances of your vehicle breaking down.

How often should a car be serviced by a professional?

The following table provides general maintenance guidelines. Factors such as age, mileage and driving conditions will affect timelines and every vehicle is different so please consult your owner’s manual or contact the original manufacturer/authorised distributor for recommended service intervals.

Maintenance Timing*
Interim Service Every 6 months or 5,000Km (whichever comes first)
Full Service Every 12 months or 10,000Km (whichever comes first)
Walk around checks At least once a week and before any long journey

*This is only a general guideline

What safety checks can people perform themselves? And how regular should they be done?

The RSA recommends carrying out a walk around check at least once a week or before any long journey. The RSA car walk around check leaflet provides a handy list of items you can inspect yourself before embarking on a journey. The RSA tyre safety booklet provides advice on checking your tyres. Always keep your owner’s manual in the vehicle. It contains valuable instructions, information and warnings specific to your vehicle such as:

  •         How often your car needs to be serviced
  •         How to check your car’s fluids (water, oil etc.) and how often they should be replaced or topped up
  •         How to inflate your tyres correctly
  •         How to check the electrics (e.g. battery, lights, cooling fan etc.)
  •         How to decipher dashboard warning lights

Will getting a car serviced prolong its life?

Vehicles which have a valid service history and regular maintenance will ensure that a car runs more efficiently and safely and will assist in minimising problems.

When money’s short it can be tempting to skip servicing your car. What advice would you give to encourage not to skip servicing their car?

Keeping your car in a good condition can save you money. A valid service history and regular maintenance will not only increase a vehicle’s resale value, it ensures that a car runs more efficiently and safely, minimising problems and expensive repairs in the future.

Are there any other car safety tips we should be aware of?

The RSA is in the process of developing a booklet providing advice and guidance on how to carry out 12 basic DIY vehicle maintenance checks. This is expected to be published in the next few months. In the interim, our car walk around check leaflet provides a good overview to the different important safety checks that should be taken into account. Further detail on this can be seen here where you will see a video on daily car checks and other vehicles.  For more information on vehicle safety, please see here.

Also worth noting is, a website run by the RSA, The Health and Safety Authority and An Garda Siochana which provides drivers with tips on ways to reduce risk if they drive in the course of their work. 


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