Here’s a thought process that many of us will have had…

'My car’s passed its MOT, so why do I need to waste money having it serviced? There’s clearly nothing wrong with it, I might as well save the cost of the service.'

Are the two things the same? If your car passes its MOT does it still need to be serviced, and if so, why?

Well, firstly an MOT and a service are not the same thing...

Differences between a Service and an MOT

An MOT is a mandatory test to ensure that your car is roadworthy; a service follows detailed guidelines, set out by the vehicle manufacturer and is designed to keep your car in peak condition.

Let’s look at it this way. You go to the doctors for a check-up. The doctor says everything is fine, you could do with losing a few pounds, your eyesight isn’t 20/20 and you’ve got a bit of a cold, but otherwise you’re fine. That’s your MOT, you’ve passed, but you’re not going to run a marathon anytime soon!

You go to the gym for a fitness test. They change your diet, give you a personal trainer and you literally could run a marathon. That’s your service, prolonging your life and keeping you fitter.

So a car that passes its MOT is roadworthy, but it’s not necessarily running at optimum fitness. Things maybe starting to fail mechanically, the oil may need changing, or the air filter, fuel filter, spark plugs may have to be replaced and doing all this would not only make the vehicle run more smoothly it would also make the car more economical to run.

Whilst both an MOT and a service check similar things, such as tyre tread depth, seat belt anchorings and so on; a service doesn’t just check these things, it replaces some parts, which improve not just your car’s performance, but also its economy and its lifespan.

If you’re wondering ‘Does my car need a service?’, the short answer is yes.

Car on a ramp

Here’s why your car needs both a Service & MOT

If your car is 3 years old or more, then you have to have it MOT tested. It’s a legal requirement and just as importantly, without a valid MOT certificate, your car insurance is invalid. An MOT test is a legal requirement to ensure that your car is safe to drive and will not cause hazards to any other road users.

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Your vehicle registration

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Is a Service the same as an MOT?

No. It also measures car emissions and checks criteria against standards set by the Government. It is illegal to drive a car over three years old without a valid MOT certificate and you will be unable to obtain car insurance without one. 

A service is a bit like an annual health check for your car. Not only does it keep your car running efficiently and safely but it will also go some way to maintaining its value, especially if you use a franchised dealership where original parts will be employed by manufacturer- trained technicians.

If servicing is done regularly, it should be relatively painless. Any little niggles can be addressed before they become an issue and threaten the long-term health of your car. If your car has not been serviced for years, however, the safe and healthy running of your car may be compromised.

Like us all, cars need a bit of attention every now and then. Filters get clogged, oil needs changing and batteries run down so don’t be tempted to miss or delay a service to save money - it could cost you in the long run. A poorly maintained car can result in poor fuel economy in the short term and in big repair bills further down the road.

While an MOT does cover several areas that are also checked during a service, it looks at the absolute minimum requirements for a car to be safely used on UK roads, such as functioning lights and wipers, safe bodywork and no fuel leaks. Find out what an MOT checks for on our blog.

car service will not only check these basics but will also help ensure that the car is running as efficiently as possible, giving the car longevity and keeping running costs down.

If you keep up to date with your car’s servicing schedule, as per the manufacturer’s guidelines, your vehicle should sail through its MOT without any additional work being required. A car without regular servicing, however, could easily fail its MOT and need costly work to get it back on the road legally.

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Crewe Volkswagen servicing workshop

What happens at a Service?

Just as every person’s health is different, each car needs individual attention too. Based on manufacturer’s guidelines, different makes and models require action in various areas from year to year. So the list of maintenance and checks will vary from car to car.

For this reason, it’s always better to get your car serviced at a franchised dealer than at a general garage. Franchise technicians are specialists in the particular make of your car, understanding the different attention required by every model and each distinct technical specification in the range.

A franchise technician will also be able to apply any software updates to your vehicle that have been issued by the manufacturer, something that your local garage might miss or be unable to do.

So if you’re wondering ‘well, what do they do in a car service?’, we may just have the answer…

An interim service will likely include the inspection of:

  • Lights
  • Wipers
  • Battery
  • Exhaust
  • Tyre tread and pressure
  • Brakes
  • Steering
  • Shock absorbers
  • Suspension

And replacement of:

  • Oil and oil filter
  • Windscreen wash
  • Power steering fluid

In addition to these items, a full service may also address:

  • Auxiliary drive belt
  • Wheel alignment, bearings and balance
  • Fuel filter (diesel engine)
  • Spark plugs (petrol engine)
  • Air filter

Refer to your manufacturer’s handbook or speak to your local franchise dealer for a model-specific list.

When does my car need a service? Is my service due?

Car service intervals vary depending on brand and model. You should plan to have your car fully serviced at least every 12 months or at mileage stipulated by the manufacturer - check your car’s manual for details. To keep your car running economically and to prevent unanticipated problems becoming an issue, it’s best to stick to this schedule. After all, prevention is better than cure.

Most, but not all cars now have an on-board computer that will give an indication of when the next service is due. This clock should be reset whenever a service is completed so that the car knows that action has been taken. The garage should also be able to let you know when the next service will be due, giving you the chance to plan ahead and budget.

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FAQS about Servicing and MOTs



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