A lot of people think if they take their car for an MOT it doesn’t have to be serviced. That is most definitely not the case. Read on to find the difference between an MOT and service and the multiple reasons why it’s important to have your car serviced.
Six big differences between an MOT and service
- Once your car is more than three-years old, getting an MOT is a legal requirement. A service is optional.
- The MOT must be carried out every 12 months, no matter how many miles a car has covered. Servicing can depend on the miles covered or in very low mileage cars, a time span.
- The government’s Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) sets out the MOT and what it covers. When and how a car is serviced is defined by its manufacturer.
- A DVSA-approved tester must carry out the MOT. Anyone can perform a service; they don’t even have to be a professional mechanic.
- Garages can charge a maximum £54.85 for an MOT. Depending on the car, the cost of a service could run into thousands.
- Not all garages can carry out an MOT. They must have a DVSA-approved tester to do so. Any garage can do a service, although not all are manufacturer-approved.
What the MOT looks for
The MOT is a roadworthiness check. It’s an inspection of parts of the car that might make it dangerous if they wear out and/or fail. The MOT looks at elements such as the lights, tyres, brakes, suspension, windows and bodywork. It also warns of parts that might become dangerous in the near future. These are called advisories.
Why is the MOT useful?
There are the obvious safety benefits of an MOT. But for the used car buyer, the MOT is an important investigative tool. Go to the government’s MOT checker website, input any car’s registration and you’ll be able to see its MOT history. This should give you an idea of how it’s been looked after. It’ll also tell you which parts may be close to wearing out. That gives you a bargaining chip for knocking some pounds off the price.
What is a service?
A service is more of a health check. It’s specified by your car’s manufacturer after a certain amount of time or number of miles. The car firm’s engineers will have carefully calculated how long oil and air filters will last before they get blocked up, how long the engine can run on the same oil and so on. A major service might replace parts like engine spark plugs and the pollen filter in the ventilation system.
What’s the benefit of a service?
The service will ensure your car is running as efficiently as it possibly can do. This will have a couple of benefits. It should mean that you’ll get maximum miles per gallon. And it’ll reduce the likelihood of components wearing out, breaking and causing breakdowns. Car manufacturers specify that owners service cars after a set number of miles or time. Stick to these and record them in the car’s service book and you’ll give the car a ‘full service history’. This can enhance its resale value.
Why might a car break down after an MOT?
The MOT doesn’t look at things like how the engine is running, whether the clutch is about to wear out or if the gearbox is packing up. So if something like that is nearing the end of its life it might fail immediately after the MOT. If while doing an MOT, the garage notices something that should concern the car’s owner, a decent, honest outfit really should mention it.
I’ve been writing about cars and motoring for more than 25 years. My career started on a long-departed classic car weekly magazine called AutoClassic. I’ve since pitched up at Autosport, Auto Express, the News of the World, Sunday Times and most recently the Daily Telegraph. When I’m not writing about cars and motoring, I’m probably doing some kind of sport or working in my garden.