Top Tips for Servicing Your Car

New car sales are plummeting – it looks like Irish consumers are cutting back to just the essentials by not splashing the cash on the new motor to keep up with the Jones’. During the last 2 months of 2008, the number of new cars sold dropped by 50% and already in the first 2 weeks of 2009, sales have dropped 16% – in which is normally busiest car sales period of the year.

This means we’ll have to spend more looking after our cars to keep them on the road. We’ll have to fork out more on servicing, repairs and passing the dreaded NCT. The cost of servicing a car is a popular complaint on so here are a few things to make sure you’re not spending more than you have.

  • It’s important that you get to know your own car by reading the manual. You can also check the internet for the experiences of others who own the same car. There is probably a specialty website now for every kind of car that will tell you the things that normally go wrong and what to watch out for with your car.
  • Make sure you look after your car. There are simple things that we can all do this regularly like checking the basics – the oil levels, the water and tyre pressure. Doing this could mean your service costs will be minimised when the time comes.
  • Don’t ignore what your car is telling you if you hear a noise or feel something strange when you’re driving. Get these checked out immediately as not paying attention now could mean you’ll end up paying significantly more if something major eventually goes wrong.
  • If you are taking your car to the garage, be very specific when explaining the things that you’ve noticed causing problems. Since you know the car best, you’re the best person to describe to the mechanic what’s happening, how often it’s happening, and what you notice whenever anything is causing a problem – such as smells, vibrations, flashing lights and noises.  This should help garages make a quicker diagnosis.
  • Once the garage has checked out your car and told you what they think might be the problem, get them to write everything down for you. They should detail what they think needs to be done to fix the problem, what parts might be necessary, how much labour might be needed, and what the total cost should be. This will protect you, as well as the garage, in case there’s any argument later on.
  • Make sure you tell the garage that no way should they carry out any extra work on the car that isn’t included in the written quotation. Get them to give you a call to let you know if they find anything new. You can then decide if you want the new work done (once you’ve received a new quote obviously).
  • Not getting quotations causes readers of the greatest problems. Don’t fall into the trap of just dropping in your car for a service without asking for a quote. Don’t be shy – any garage that’s serious about their work should be happy to provide a quote. This will mean you’re not shocked when the bill finally arrives – something that can easily happen if you don’t get a quote.
  • Finally, one of the biggest rip offs in the car industry at the moment is the pre-NCT test. This is something that you should avoid – you don’t need it. If you follow the few basic tips from the NCT website to prepare the car yourself, any reason for a fail will become the instructions to a garage for what needs to be fixed. But you should still get your written quotation for whatever that work is.

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