Do I need to service my car regularly even if I don’t drive far?

Do I need to service my car regularly even if I don’t drive far? banner

John Blair Automotive    5th April 2023

Regular servicing is important for maintaining the health and longevity of your car, regardless of how far you're driving it.

Some drivers don’t put many kilometres on their cars. In fact, it might be as little as 10,000km in five years. This might be because of a physical debilitation or that an aging driver hardly does much mileage at all. Whatever the reason, it is important to maintain servicing at the recommended service intervals, and for many good reasons which we’ll go through below.

In general, cars require servicing mostly because consumable components wear out, are used up, or otherwise degrade over time.

There are two ways that components wear out: use and age. This is why the manufacturer-stipulated service interval is not only distance-based but limited by time (given in months). The usual service interval provided by many manufacturers is 10 or 15,000km or 12 months, whichever comes first.

Components that wear only through use include brake discs, brake pads, bearings, and most mechanical parts.

However, there are components that will wear through age. These are mostly consumable parts made from oils and rubbers that will age just by sitting around. This can be accelerated by variables such as temperature – like if you left a car sitting in the sun for months the wiper blades would deteriorate faster.

Most consumables that wear from age include fluids such as engine oil, and transmission and brake fluid, as well as batteries and rubber-based components such as tyres, wiper blades, and suspension bushings.

The importance of service intervals

While the frequency of servicing may vary depending on the make and model of your car and your driving habits, it's recommended to have your car serviced at least once a year or every 10,000 to 15,000 kilometers, whichever comes first.

What makes servicing on time extra important is that missed service intervals can void manufacturer-backed warranties, and that could mean a huge (potentially expensive) headache if an engine part was to wear out prematurely and need replacing because the oil was not replaced on time.

For example, Honda Australia states in its warranty terms and conditions that: "Honda recommends that the vehicle be maintained in accordance with the maintenance schedule contained in your Owners Warranty & Service Manual, and this Honda warranty does not cover damage that occurs as a result of, or is contributed to by, improper or inadequate maintenance by or at the instigation of the owner."

But is it cheaper to maintain a low-mileage car?

Surely if you are not driving as far, servicing will be cheaper? In general, servicing costs are lower on low-kilometer cars than for high-mileage ones as most servicing will be age-relate, like fluids and wear-related parts like brake discs.

But not everything is relative – low kay cars may suffer from wear due to the engine being used only when cold and not ‘warmed-up’. This would be on most short trips to the shops and back. And things like DPFs on diesel cars benefit from a clean-out on sustained long-distance trips that a short-trip driver may never make.

The bottom line for any car owner is that regular servicing can help identify and fix any minor issues before they become major problems. This includes basic safety and tyre wear checks – and tyres will deteriorate just from age while sitting around doing nothing.

If you would like to discuss your own circumstances and understand your car’s servicing requirements better we would love to help you. As a service centre that has been operating in Melbourne for over 45 years, we have a tremendous client base that is loyal and trusting because we look after our customers.

In fact, no matter the enquiry you have, please feel free to contact John Blair Automotive and ask us - we are here to service you!

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