Guide to DIY car servicing and maintenance

All you need to know about "How to service a car"

You can save a great deal of money by servicing a car and looking after it yourself. Most cars follow a similar set of rules when it comes to service items and once you've serviced your first car you'll find it quite easy to do another car.

It's worth noting that schedules for high performance cars are generally much shorter, and diesel cars often enjoy slightly longer service intervals.

Manufacturer handbooks usually recommend a service schedule which you should stick to.

You can get the parts from your favourite local store or online.

Please check your service book for recommendations of intervals, these are aimed at general average cars out there. Some performance cars require a full service and plug change every 6000 miles, some diesel manufacturers recommend 2 year service intervals for many things. So this is a general guide and if you have an average family car the following are our recommendations.

Weekly checks

  • Tyre condition & pressures
  • Engine coolent level
  • Brake fluid levels
  • Battery charge levels
  • Windscreen washer levels
  • Engine oil level and condition

Every 9-12,000 miles or 1 year

  • Engine oil
  • Oil filter
  • Air filter
  • Plugs (spark plugs in petrol engines)
  • Engine coolant
  • Check brake fluid with a tester and replace if needed

We also recommend the following items be done after 2 years but some car makers have different schedules for these so please check your handbook.

Tuning tips and articles Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

Every 24,000 miles or 2 years

  • Cabin pollen filter
  • Brake fluid
  • Brake discs
  • Plugs (glow plugs in diesel engines)
  • Fuel filter
  • Replace wiper blades

Every 5-7 years

  • Check cambelt & replace at 70,000 miles
  • Check brake discs for wear
  • Check suspension parts for play and worn bushings
  • Check clearance and lift on valves
  • Check for cambelt wear

By doing the work yourself you could save £100's each year and it's quite easy to do so. The forums over at TorqueCars are a great place to go to check specifics for your model of car. The above is just a summary overview and some cars have specific needs outside of this list.

Use the correct grade of engine oil. Cheap oils do not lubricate well, break down more quickly and can dramatically accelerate engine wear. Long-life synthetic oils are generally very good but we still recommend you change the oil at least every 7-12,000 miles, especially if you are only doing short journeys or lots of stop start driving.

Your annual MOT test will check the essentials like steering and brakes but you must not rely on this as a roadworthiness test. Most garages carry out a wide range of checks when they service your car and if you are doing the work yourself you should also check these things.

Some essential checks we recommend are brake pads, you should remove the wheel and check both sides of the disc as they can wear unevenly. Ensure there is a good chunk of brake pad left or replace them.

Look for corrosion and leaks in the brake lines and suspension system. These can cause major problems if not spotted early on.

If you liked this page please share it with your friends, drop a link to it in your favourite forum or use the bookmarking options to save it to your social media profile.

Check out TorqueCars new YouTube channel, and see their awesome new content...


Please use our forums if you wish to ask a tuning question, and please note we do not sell parts or services, we are just an online magazine.

Help us improve, leave a suggestion or tip

Your Constructive comments on this article

2 Responses to “How to service a car”

  1. Vic says:

    Are you sure it’s 12k miles in between oil changes?

  2. admin says:

    It depends on the engine and manufacturer, check the service book. My experience is that petrols I’ve owned recommend 12k miles and 1 year, Diesels are usually 9000 miles but many are offering a long life service interval of 2 years or 24000 miles (which in my personal opinion is not a good idea.)