When do I service my car?
To keep your car reliable, you need to service it.
When do I service my car?
To keep your car reliable, you need to service it. Not even a Toyota can carry on going forever if it isn’t serviced, while sticking to your service schedule also maintains your vehicle’s value.
‘Servicing’ is actually quite a vague term, but it means regular maintenance to keep your vehicle in tip-top shape and prevent issues from cropping up. Servicing your car helps to keep it reliable and safe, maintain the value and give it a lengthy lifespan. A vehicle will have a manufacturer-recommended Service Schedule, which lays out at what mileage the vehicle should be serviced, and what should be done at each service. A 15 000km service, for example, is usually very different to a 45 000km service. Minor services will entail replacing a few things, such as engine oil, the oil filter, fuel filter and air filter, as well as inspecting a far more extensive list of vehicle components. A major service would entail replacing more items, such as brake fluid, transmission oil, spark plugs, engine coolant and brake pads. Again, the car should be inspected thoroughly.
Car manufacturers stipulate that a car should be serviced at a certain mileage, but they also say that a car should be serviced a minimum of every 12 months. So if your car has a recommended service schedule of every 15 000km but you only drive your car 4000km during a calendar year (perhaps due to a lockdown!), then you should still have it serviced 12 months after the previous service.
Toyota South Africa has a very handy tool on their website where you can see exactly when your vehicle should be serviced, and what that particular service entails (https://www.toyota.co.za/owners/service-repair).
Many modern cars have a ‘Service Light’ that indicates that your car needs a service. It is still important, though, to know when your vehicle will need to be serviced ahead of time, so that you can plan for it, both financially and practically – you don’t want the service light to come on 100km into a 4000km road trip!
Many good dealerships will also phone to remind you that your recommended service is imminent, but they won’t know the mileage you have travelled since your last service so you can’t necessarily rely on them.
Something every one of us should do is write down when your car is serviced, maybe on a digital calendar like Google Calendar that reminds you every year. Another option is to write on a little sticker the date and mileage of your next service, and stick it on your odometer where you can’t miss it.
Need to know
A car service is regular maintenance only – you can’t expect a workshop to repair anything extra during a service without additional costs. You can expect the dealership to identify other maintenance that needs to be performed, though, such as brake pads needing to be replaced or tyres with uneven or irregular wear.
After a service, double check that the workshop remembered to stamp your service book – this is vital in maintaining the value of your vehicle. An added benefit of having your vehicle serviced through a manufacturer’s workshop, such as those as Toyota dealerships, is that the service is recorded on a central database so that in the vent of losing your service book, a record can be printed out. Likewise, if you are thinking of buying a second-hand Toyota or Lexus, you can ask the dealership if it has been correctly serviced in the past.