How Often Do You Really Need to Service Your Car?

Hi all,

I often find myself in debate on how often you need to service your car (new/few years old).

Some people say 6 months, some say every 5000km, etc.
What if you only drive your car a few hundred km and then go on holiday? Do you still need to service it in 6 months?

How often do you service your car? and are there any rule of thumbs you go by?


  • +16 votes

    Go by what the manufacturer says, they would know better than anyone.

    • Unless it's Mazda…those greedy scumbags wanted 6 monthly servicing in Australia for the very same models that were annual servicing in every other country.

      Don't ever think for one second that manufacturers are always giving you advice that's best for you, sometimes they also have their own best interests at heart…

      • Toyota is guilty of doing that as well, Honda as well I believe.

        • Not sure why Toyota is guilty for the same thing? My last Aurion was always scheduled for 15k or 9 months whichever is first(Was still under warranty and cheap servicing package)?

        • +26 votes

          @Bnjam3: We have a Corolla in the family and it's service is due every 6 months. The same car in the USA is due every 12 months. They claim it's because of "harsh" Australian conditions, truth is the USA has much the same extremes as we do, only difference is Australian dealers want to make more money from servicing.

        • @JIMB0: You can still use private licensed mechanics if you believe that Toyota authorized dealer is ripping you off. Where i do come from the only one Toyota authorized dealer(Monopoly) is only offering 5000km oil, service is always due in 3 months or 5000km so having a 6 month servicing is still not bad to me :P. Tbh, i have only tried one Toyota dealer in Australia before and that place was not bad and they always tried to accommodate my request at much as they can(Melville Toyota).

        • @JIMB0:

          While I don't disagree that dealers are greedy, Australia is classed as a High Dust and Low Fuel Quality country, that's probably got something to do with it.

        • @Bnjam3:
          Yet if you want to keep your new car warranty you still need to meet the required service intervals, regardless of who does them - Same for manufacturer supplied roadside service.

        • @Gronk:
          Are you aware of the fuel quality in the US? They dream of the fuels that we use.

        • @JIMB0: This + they started to push other services during your service. They basically said every car that rolled in could use a wheel alignment. Every old person there just took their word for it.

        • I think they only use gas there. They always talk about filling up the gas. LPG gas must be standard in all cars there. Don't even know what petrol is.

        • @vicerum:
          FYI: Gas means gasoline, which is just another word for petrol ( )

        • I know, it was just me making a shitty joke.

        • @Gronk: Australia actually has one of the best quality fuels. 91 RON is our lowest, and 91 RON in USA is the highest.

        • @sv123: I know their standard is lower than our 91, but they must be able to get better than 91. Many sportier cars require 95 or better. Almost all motorcycles need 95 or better - mine pings horribly on 91 fuel.

        • @vicerum:

          lol, epic downvote count XD

          I laughed at least.

        • @JIMB0: Due to Harsh Australian Financial conditions, more like it.

        • @sv123: this is just wrong. That's like saying they drive slower on their freeways because they go 60 and we go 100. They don't measure octane in RON like we do, they use AKI. So when you see 87 its our 91, 91 our 95, 94 is our 98.

        • @sv123:

          Actually they don't use RON (research octane number) theirs is a different scale whereby 93 octane is equivalent to our 98

        • @nomoneynoproblems:

          They use 60 miles per hour as compared to 100 kilometers per hour here which are actually close enough.

        • @Bnjam3: every 9 months is the scam part.

          Older cars use to be every 10k or 12 months. Now its every 15k or 9 months :/

          So more kms in less time!

        • @TrendyTim:
          The Americans know We get guzzolene from gas town here

        • @bargainhunter001:
          Do you like mothers milk or visit the bullet farm?

        • @Gronk: The usual dealer routine services does not have anything to do with your fuel system. The closest they do with fuel system is change spark plugs but this got nothing to do with poor quality fuel. Some do change fuel filters but this is vefy long service item like 80k-100k. Next thing is they sell/cheat you fuel injector cleaners that does absolutely no help to dirty buildup.

        • @skillet: Fuel quality plays a big part in how often your oil needs changing. Sulfur in the fuel pollutes the oil making it acidic. Lower sulfur levels in the fuel can extended the oil change interval.

        • @vicerum:

          Ahh ok at least its only your sense of humour thats lacking and not your general knowledge :)

        • @macrocephalic: I wondered the same thing, my YZ250 needed 95 or higher, don't know what Americans would do in this case. My brother just got back from an epic road trip in the USA (over 30,000km) and said the best he saw was 91 RON, lowest was 87 RON.

        • @nomoneynoproblems: Ah ok, well this makes sense now!

      • Eh? I have mazda 6 and its yearly or 10k..

      • mazda changed to yearly servicing 3 years ago

        • This is true, although it doesn't stop their service centre hassling you every six months

      • Am i missing something. They want 6 monthly servicing but you can just go there annually if you choose to? whats the problem?

      • Depends on your dealer.

        One Mazda dealer in the greater Sydney area (won't name it) is known for being particularly unscrupulous in regards to servicing (and finance actually). We bought our car there but it was a bad experience. We've done our services at Mazda's dealership in Artarmon and they have been 100% above board and reliable (and fair).

        12 months and 10k is the answer from me anyway.

        • Why would you hesitate to name a bad dealer? Helps the rest of us if you do.

        • @mskeggs: Probably west end mazda in Parramatta. Those guys are just shonks

        • @Ace26:
          Not west end in Parramatta.

          I am happy to name it but concerned of any legal implications?

          It's not Parramatta (I know nothing about that dealership as I live near CBD) and it's not Artarmon.

          Their reviews on Google are bad, should be easy to identify.

      • Yep I have a Mazda 6 2007. Been servicing at Mazda since I brought it 2nd hand a few years ago. I noticed they do this but I've just been taking it once a year OR after every 10,000km. Now I'm thinking of just taking it to an independent mechanic as it's a lot cheaper. Plus car is old now so not worth paying extra to Mazda!

    • +15 votes

      I am sure manufacturers are as honest about servicing as they are about emissions.

    • Definitely not, that 6 month rule is absolute bollocks aimed at money making only. Yeah you might need it serviced if you haven't touched your car for 6 months, but if you've been driving it then there's definitely nothing wrong with it.

      I was following the 10,000km rule until my friend told me about how he only does the major ones eg. 30,000km, 60,000km etc. That's when I found out the 10,000km rule was actually already conservative if you don't drive like a hooligan and floor it, then slam the brakes, then floor it until you're 10m from the red light then slam the brakes again.

      • At the very least, please change the oil/filter max every 10,000km! It's cheap/easy to do yourself.

        Going longer than that between oil changes can lead to premature failure of the engine.

        • So why do some manufacturers recommend 15k? It is surely suitable for even a bit more of that, they would tend to be somewhat conservative with their schedules to prevent reliability issues.

        • @Euphemistic:
          Some cars have a bigger oil sump and hold more oil.

          More oil means there is more oil to provide lubrication and dilute the impurities.

          Trust the manufacturer on oil changes, they know what they are talking about.

        • @Euphemistic:
          The manufacturers only care about reliability issues within the warranty period. They've calculated that the longer interval will please customers (including fleet customers etc) in the short term, won't harm their bottom line in the short term in terms of warranty repairs - but in the longer term, greater engine wear will lead to more risk of failure in the long term. (Hey, if cars lasted forever, we'd never need to buy new ones…)

        • So should I trust the manufacturer, or not trust the manufacturer? Two conflicting posts.

          Manufacturers do have reason to keep cars running. 'Everybody' knows if you want a car that lasts for a long time you buy a Toyota and if you want a VW/Jeep you should be selling it when the warranty runs out. (I know I'm being very general here)

        • @Euphemistic: Some engines pollute their oil much more than others. Toyota engines are very easy on oil and don't let much combustion products pass into the oil. Other engines, particularly turbocharged ones can pass a great amount of combustion products into the oil which makes it go acidic more quickly and require more frequent changes.

    • If the manual says 12 months and 10000-15000 km, then that is what you use. Dealer is not the same as manufacturer, so don't listen to them. At the end of the day, if you follow what the manual says, your warranty is intact.

  • I follow manufacturer's recommendations. They're usually spot on. It's my opinion that their recommendations are based on an average number of kilometers driven, so if your driving history is more or less than the average, then servicing should also probably be adjusted.

    I find regular servicing to give me much better peace of mind and I also believe that it can help prevent larger, more expensive headaches, down the line.

    • How do you KNOW the manufacturers recommendations are spot on, have you ever gone longer between services and had things go wrong?

      • I suppose I can't. However, I can say that way back when I didn't know better, and didn't get the car serviced as often as I should have, my engine oil got into horribly sludgy condition and my tyres lasted only 40% of their rated life.

        Granted the sludgy oil didn't break anything at the time, since the oil is basically the lubricating life blood of the main moving parts, I figure it wouldn't have been ideal for the engine.

        The tyre were definitely a measurable and significant deviation from what I would take as acceptable life.

  • It depends on what you mean by "really need".

    If it's a new car and you're not having it properly serviced at the scheduled intervals, then you'll probably void the warranty.

    If you want it to perform well and last long, then again, you should service it as per the manufacturer's schedule.

    If you're just trying to get away with the least amount of maintenance possible, then at least get the oil changed periodically.

  • Usually, I'd do it once each year, based on the number of kilometres recommended by the manufacturer (rather than the recommended time, eg 6 months).

    On a new car, the first few services are a must. This is when the parts inside the engine aren't completely mated to each other yet. The tolerances on the manufacturing of parts means that they wont fit together perfectly and there'll be small metal bits floating in the oil that's not good for the engine.

  • I figure it's fine to do DIY oil and filter changes at the intervals specified in the manual. The owners manual will specify what needs inspecting and what needs replacing, and at what intervals.

    Other things to DIY are the spark plugs, air filter, brake pads, wipers and coolant flushes. Also the fuel filter.

    And add some injector cleaner to the fuel every 10,000km.

    • That's basically every bit of standard servicing a modern vehicle should need. Exposed belts can be visually inspected and replaced. The cam belt should be replaced on schedule (because you don't want it breaking on an interference engine). Other than that, you're just getting things repaired when they need it.

      • You forgot brakes and brake fluid. Brake fluid can be very bad for your lines if not changed when required

  • +3 votes

    oils coolants etc degrade over time, it's not just the km.

    then again I only service based on km…..

  • I say about 10-15 thousand km or annually for petrol, a bit shorter for diesel unless you are doing lots of hard driving, like short stop start, carrying heavy loads or towing. You do need to have a level of mechanical aptitude though, as you need to be aware when something is not right, like engine/transmission noises, brakes, suspension and tyres so that you can get stuff checked if it is going wrong before it goes bang.

    Some manufacturers are upping the distance and time to 12 months, 15,000km. This gives me an indication that they are still happy for it to go longer as they will build in a margin of error.

  • Its more about preventative maintenance and if you plan on selling your car regardless on how far its traveled. Your car won't seize if you miss a service, but that ticking noise you hear would have probably been picked up and fixed or your particular model is known to have a design defect and that steering hose gets replaced.

    When you sell your car a fully serviced log (on time) book is pretty much bargaining power. It tells that you looked after the car and didn't cheap out. Just some things to consider.

  • Very surprised how many uninformed people there are when it comes to regular car servicing.

    Car manufacturers make recommendations not only to cover themselves but their customers too. Certain car parts expire such as timing belts etc. which could snap at any moment if not serviced on time. This causes thousands in repairs, which is why it's always better to be safe than sorry.

    If someone doesn't want to service their car by the book, that's fine. But don't expect near market value when it comes to selling time. Also don't expect any warranty being honoured when something breaks eventually. I'm sure there will be future threads here asking for help on warranty claims being rejected because they did not follow the service schedule.

    • "Car manufacturers make recommendations not only to cover themselves but their customers too. Certain car parts expire such as timing belts etc. which could snap at any moment if not serviced on time. This causes thousands in repairs, which is why it's always better to be safe than sorry."

      They make recommendations based on statistical data that says the majority of stuff will live for a certain time. Then they take off a bit of a safety margin and choose a service interval. Just because a timing belt is meant to be changed at 100,000km doesn't mean it won't break before or will break just after the magic number. the risk of failure just increases the longer you leave it after it is due.

      And in case you haven't noticed there are a fair number of old cars getting driven around, that don't get serviced and just keep going. Thing is with them though, by the time your car is worth around $2k it is cheaper to keep driving until it dies than to change a timing belt, costing over half the value of the car.

      I don't disagree that having a newish car with a proper service history retains value and will help longevity.

      • Kind of, but if the timing belt breaks on your 2k car then you've lost 2k. We recently had to pay $800 for repairs and timing belt on my wife's old car, without repairs it was worth almost nothing, but with repairs it could almost pass a wrc and be sold on for a few thousand - or keep going a couple more years.

        • Risking the timing belt breaking on a $2k car is what lots of people do. Religiously sticking to the recommended schedule is what a lot of people don't do. Sure a stuffed engine will ruin the value of your car, but saving $1k on replacing something that is working might allow you to keep putting fuel in the tank for a few more months, or pay for rego (assuming that owners of $2k cars don't have lots of spare cash - and I know that is a generalisation)

          You chose to make $800 worth of repairs to keep the car roadworthy. Would you have spent $800 on repairs if the car was roadworthy?

  • i drive a 2003 Echo. Self serviced every 10,000. The oil filters cost 10 bucks.. oil is around $15. I throw some fuel/engine systems cleaner in there every now and then and change the wiper blades.. brakes auto-adjust..

    very easy to work on, pick car up with one hand, switch oil out with other.

    (p.s just got the airbag switched out per recall notice.. no more worrying about ceramic grenade to the face)

    • My Yaris is an 09 model. I've owned it since new and just ticked over 100,000kms. I haven't needed to change my wiper blades yet. They still do the job perfectly fine. More surprisingly though recently got my brakes checked and still have over %80 on the pads. They haven't been replaced yet! I did get the brake fluid flushed and replaced.

      • I'm quite sceptical that your Yaris has 80℅ pads after seven years and 100,000km. Either your Yaris has the thickest pads on any car ever made, or you engine brake at every red light.

        • Very light car, but yes 100,000 is a lot for one set of pads using only 20%

        • @smpantsonfire:
          Must be light if Stitchy can lift it with one hand :O

        • It is a manual and I do use the gears when coming up to red light to slow it down (or roll it in neutral, if suitable). At the end of the day, it's a Yaris so I get no joy out of thrashing it anyway. So I am always grannying it around. I was also sceptical so i took the wheel off and had a look at it myself.. In fact I bought a new set of bendix pads quite some time ago when they were on sale. But after looking at it at home, I could see there still plenty left on the pads, so there was no point to replace them.

        • I had at least 50% pad thickness left on my falcon after 80000km and it's a big heavy car… put better rotors and pads in. Took me by surprise just how much pad was left on the old ones.

        • @MetalPhreak:
          Light cars is awesome! Nissan Pulsar 170K original brake parts on all fours. 1mm more to go on the discs.

        • @skillet: got brembos on the new fgx now. Gonna be a shock to the wallet when they need replacing… :(

  • This is what I do:

    Within warranty - every 6 months
    After warranty - annually (to align with annual rego inspections)

    I have 2 Toyotas (a Yaris and a Kluger), that are both about 7-10 years old.

    • I have 6 years capped price servicing? I assume I"ll need to service it every 6 months within those 6 years to maintain warranty?

      • Needs to be done in line with the manufacturers recommendation if you want to maintian any warranty. It's not up to you to decide, unless you want to forgive the warranty.

    • Funny, I got a call from my (ig)Noble Toyota dealership to say that I was due for a major service. When I reminded them that I had just got my car serviced 2 months ago for the 130K service, she said "Oh, your car has just turned 10 years old. It definitely needs to have a major service done right away. "

  • depends on the car… i owned turbo cars and they really needed 5,000km oil changes.

    Now I'm in V8s and everyone knows the normal LS1/2 motors will do 10,000km.

    The higher performance LS3/A types will probably need 5,000 again.

  • I get mine serviced every 10-15k kms… which works out to every 3-4 months… I could do it myself, but I'd rather let those with the equipment and skills to diagnose anything do it… for instance, next service I'll be replacing my front brake pads… could I do it myself? Yes. In the same time my mechanic could? Probably not.

    • Could really do it in roughly the same time as a mechanic. What do you do that you drive 60,000k a year?

      • 50-60k… What do I do? Pretty much live in a rural area… I live probably 9km's out of town (right next door to one job), so it's a 20ish km's drive if I want to shoot into town to grab lunch/dinner/beer etc… Second job is 18km's out of town (on the other side of town, making a 55ish km round trip), and I'll travel there 3-4 times a week. Last week's trip to Big W to grab the Xbox One 1tb pack was a 70km trip… throw in a trip to Adelaide here and there (550-600km's) and it adds up quickly.

        Last service was done on the 11th October, noticed yesterday as I was driving home (from Adelaide) I'd done 5,100km's since then. Probably a good thing I enjoy driving…

      • If you factor in taking the car in, waiting, or coming back to collect it.

  • how often does a human need to shower?

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