Your guide to car maintenance and servicing
30 September 2021
Happy to get your hands dirty? Car maintenance and car servicing are two different things, but both can help reduce the risk of accidents, keep your car running and potentially save you money in the long run. Learn the basics about DIY car maintenance, how often you should have your car serviced, and typical car maintenance costs.
What happens if you don’t service your car?
Car maintenance and regular car services are some of the important ways you could keep your care safe and roadworthy.
The biggest risk to these when you don’t service your car is your oil. Keeping to your scheduled services means your oil levels will remain healthy, depending on your car’s age and how often you drive. Not servicing your car can risk low oil levels and eventual engine failure.
Servicing your car will also pick up on any potential safety issues, such as the health of your brakes, gears and tyres.
Try out the twenty cent tyre test
The minimum legal tyre tread depth is 1.5mm in Australia. Once it’s below this, you could not only void your insurance, but also cop a fine. A regular car service will surface any potential issues you might have with your tyres, but there’s one test you can do at home to keep track of your tyres.
Get yourself a twenty cent coin and insert it into one of the central grooves that run around the circumference of the tyre. Check to see if the tyre comes up to the bill of the platypus on your coin. If your tread is below 1.5mm, it won’t reach this point and your tyres are unroadworthy, dangerous to drive on and could void your car insurance.
The state of your tyres is one of the most important parts of keeping your car roadworthy and insured.
DIY car maintenance basics
If you’re in your car a lot – whether for work or if you’re just a huge fan of drive-in movies – mastering these six car maintenance basics can help keep your baby ticking along.
- Safety checks. Keep your eyes peeled for any damage to your car’s exterior.
- Tyres. Healthy tyres can help keep your car insurable as it remains roadworthy and can also save you money on fuel.
- Fuse. The gatekeepers of everything electrical in your car, it’s easy to change a fuse once you know how.
- Brakes. A warning light may appear on your dashboard if there’s an issue with your brakes. It’s important to know what it means and what to do. Check out the video below to learn more.
- Indicators and lights. These are some of the most common faults to occur between services, and can potentially cause accidents if faulty.
- Levels. As part of your car maintenance, it’s easy to keep an eye on your levels, such as coolant, oil and brake fluid. If you’re driving a lot, it’s important to check these liquids.
For all of the above, remember there’s no substitute for having a professional mechanic regularly assess your car for signs of wear or to identify potential or current faults.
Watch the below guide for more info on these basic car maintenance checks.
When to service your car
The question of how often to service your car is usually taken out of your hands thanks to the very people who service it. After each service, check you’re provided with a date for your next car service. This is often written down and stuck on the inside of your windshield, usually recommending you service the car after six months or 12,500km of driving, whichever comes first.
Regular car services can address any minor issues that can pop up more regularly, such as electrical faults. They also prevent more costly and damaging faults from occurring over the long term.
Sticking to your recommended car service times can also keep your car insured, as things like faulty tyres can void your roadworthy status. This can affect the results of any claims you might make with your car insurer.
Car maintenance costs
The immediate cost of servicing a car can sometimes make people hesitant to book in their next service. Not sticking to your recommended car servicing times risks major faults occurring in your car, such as major parts in your engine wearing out. This can see the costs of your emergency repairs blowing out into the thousands of dollars.
A typical regular service of your car can range from $200-$600, depending on the make and manufacture date of your car, as well as how often you drive it, where you drive it and how you drive it. Remember, by following the above recommendations for some DIY car maintenance, you can keep the cost of future car services to a minimum.
There are certain times where your car will need a more intensive service. These can vary between model, and you should always adhere to the advice offered by the manufacturer, but as a rough guide these are:
- 60,000 km
- 120,000 km
- 180,000 km
- 240,000 km
- 300,000 km
- 360,000 km
It’s important to check out your relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to know what expectations an insurer has on you to keep your car roadworthy.
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Insurance is issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as Suncorp Insurance. Read the Product Disclosure Statement before buying this insurance. The Target Market Determination is also available. This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it's appropriate for you before acting on it.