A car service is a maintenance check-up that's carried out at set time intervals (at least every year) or after the vehicle has travelled a certain number of miles. The car manufacturer specifies the service intervals by creating a service schedule that you should aim to follow.

The service itself includes replacing aging parts and fluids as well as visual inspections to check key components are still working properly. It's different from an MOT test which is a legal inspection to ensure the vehicle is safe to drive based on a strict checklist of criteria set out by the Driving & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

Essentially, there are three different types of car service: Interim, Full and Major. When you visit different garages and dealerships, they might call their packages something different to try and put their own stamp on it. Don't be confused by this - there's always three levels in a tiered pricing structure.

Each package includes everything that's in the level below with some added extras that your car will require at different stages of your ownership. The type of service you need depends on how many miles you complete in a year and the level of service you had previously.


An interim car service is the entry-level package that is sometimes called a 'Basic' or 'Bronze' service. It's designed for high-mileage drivers - those that cover 20,000 miles or more a year - that may need more than one annual service.

Typically, an interim car service will include an oil change, oil filter change and an inspection of the car's main components, such as the lights, tyres and windscreen wipers.

Other key inclusions in the interim service package are the lubrication of all moving parts, top-up of the engine, brake, and other fluids and a thorough inspection for any fluid leaks.



A full service, also known as an 'Intermediate' or 'Silver' service, is usually recommended every 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first. It's ideal for drivers doing lower annual mileages who will only have their car serviced once a year.

It includes a wider range of checks and service replacement parts in addition to those carried out during an interim service. Below is a list of jobs that are normally carried out, but not strictly limited to:

  • Air filter change
  • Fuel filter (diesel) / Spark plugs change (petrol)
  • Extensive brake inspection
  • Wheel bearings and shock absorbers inspection
  • Electrical components (e.g. battery, alternator and starter motor) tested
  • Air conditioning system inspection
  • Radiator and coolant hose checked



A major service might also be referred to as a 'Master' or 'Gold' service, and is recommended every 24 months or 24,000 miles. If your last annual service was a full service, your car should have a major service next.

It's the most comprehensive service package available that includes everything from a full service. In addition, parts that are recommended for replacement every two years - including the brake fluid and cabin filter - are changed.

Over time, brake fluid can become contaminated, making the brakes less effective, so it takes longer to stop the car which could have serious consequences on the road. Similarly, the cabin filter will get clogged up with dust and debris; changing it will improve the cabin's air quality.



Unlike an MOT test, a car service is not a legal requirement, however, servicing your car is the best way to keep it running in the best possible condition - you may find its performance deteriorate if it isn't serviced regularly.

Although it can be costly, there are a number of benefits associated with regular servicing, including:

  • Higher resale value - cars with a full service history are more attractive to potential buyers and tend to hold their value better
  • More reliable - regular checks to key components and the replacement of worn parts will detect and eliminate any faults that are likely to occur
  • Smoother engine - changing your engine oil and oil filter every year will lubricate moving parts more effectively and help to increase fuel efficiency
  • Improved braking - brake pads, discs and calipers are inspected during an annual service to ensure they're performing at their optimum level

Different garages will include different tasks in their servicing packages. If you want to know exactly what you're getting for your money, any decent garage should be happy to explain what's included in their different service levels.

Here at Dowleys, you can check our servicing page, which specifies the maintenance tasks we complete in each package we offer. We're an established garage that has been servicing cars in Oxford for more than 40 years.

We are proud members of the Trust My Garage Scheme from the RMI (Retail Motor Industry) and as such, must comply with their strict code of practice. By using a Trust My Garage member, like ourselves, you can be reassured that we are true professionals that you can trust.