What Does a Full Car Service Include? (and How Much Does It Cost?)

Regular service and maintenance of all parts of a vehicle are of utmost importance. As time passes, the accumulation of stress and the wear and tear of components can disrupt the functionality, resulting in costly repairs and sudden stop of the vehicle. It is evident that no one desires to find themselves in such a bad condition. Therefore, servicing plays a vital role in keeping things running efficiently. But most people have a question: What does a full car service include?

Full Car Service

To enhance the longevity and efficiency of your car, we’ve compiled a list of parts to inspect, taking into account the timing and seasons. Some of the parts written in this list require regular inspection, while others necessitate periodic checks. It is crucial to adhere to your vehicle’s maintenance schedule and service intervals according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

What is a Full Car Service?

A full car service includes all the necessary maintenance and careful checks to make sure everything in your car is operating efficiently. It takes longer than a quick oil change and costs more.

Most manufacturers recommend getting a full-service check once a year or after you’ve driven around 12,000 miles.

car maintenance Checklist

To choose the right service, ask the repair shop what they include in their full-service check. Different shops might have different things in their full car service, so it is essential to know exactly what you’re getting.

What Does a Full Service Include?

The exact parts of a full car service may vary depending on your vehicle model, the service provider, and any particular requirements or issues with your vehicle.

During a full car service, various essential inspections and maintenance tasks are carried out. This includes general examinations and care for the engine, as well as checks on various fluids and a thorough examination of the braking system. In this service, your vehicle tires and wheels are also examined, and comprehensive system checks are conducted on major components like the exhaust, suspension, steering, and drivetrain.

The below list explains what’s included in the full car service:

1) General Checks

During a car service, your mechanic conducts quick examinations of essential car parts. Firstly, they check the battery to ensure its health. They also inspect all windshield wipers, the horn, and exterior lights.

They will also perform a few basic checks for your vehicle’s internal parts. This includes inspecting seat belts and airbags and possibly replacing the cabin air filter.

2) Engine Care

Car maintenance

Engine care is a crucial aspect of the service. It involves the replacement of the air filter, oil filter, and engine oil. Additionally, all hoses and drive belts are inspected for potential faults.

Depending on your vehicle’s mileage, other services may be recommended. This could include replacing spark plugs or proactively replacing the serpentine belt to prevent more significant problems.

3) Spark Plug Inspection

Faulty Spark Plug

Spark plugs are responsible for igniting the air-fuel mixture that helps to turn the wheels of your car. If these spark plugs don’t work efficiently, your engine won’t be able to generate power efficiently.

To keep your engine running at its best, your mechanic will also examine the spark plugs, ignition coils, and other parts of the ignition system when you contact for a full service of your car.

Read More: Bad Spark Plug Symptoms and Causes

4) Fluid Checks

Fluid Checks, full car service

During a full car service, all fluids are also thoroughly examined for their sufficient levels and quality. Critical fluids include engine oil, transmission fluid, and coolant. If any of these fluids is insufficient, it is possible that your system has a leak. If the fluid looks dirty, it may require flushing or change.

Your car’s engine oil does many important jobs, like making parts move smoothly, keeping out dirt, cooling the engine, and preventing damage. To keep your engine healthy, it’s crucial to have clean and sufficient oil.

While coolant and transmission fluid are major considerations, several other fluids are inspected as well. These include windshield washer fluid, brake fluid, and power steering fluid.

5) Tire Inspection

car tires inspection

Regular tire maintenance is crucial to enjoy a safe and smooth driving experience. You should make a routine of visually examining your vehicle’s tires before driving.

Examine the tire pressure on a monthly basis and before embarking on extended trips or when carrying additional weight, including your spare tire. A tire pressure gauge is essential for this task.

Keep in mind that during cold weather, tire pressure tends to decrease by one pound for every 10-degree drop in temperature. Consult your vehicle’s service manual to determine the recommended tire pressure for your specific vehicle.

When you go for full car service, the mechanic will also examine the physical condition of your tires and wheels. The mechanic will also check the alignment of the wheels. Rotating the tires of your vehicle can improve their lifespan by equally distributing tread wear and preventing noise and vibration issues.

Read More: Tire Feathering Causes and Fixes

6) Braking System Inspection

Brake System

The braking system is one of the most important parts of your vehicle. Efficient performance is very important to prevent your vehicle from accidents. Therefore, in the car service, your mechanic will also inspect the brake system.

The professional assesses the condition of the brake shoes and rotor, replacing them if they are faulty. All brake hoses and brake calipers are also examined for signs of wear. The emergency brake is also checked for its functionality.

Read More: Bad Brake Master Cylinder Symptoms and Causes

7) Steering System Inspection

car Steering System inspection

The steering system of your vehicle comprises numerous parts. Your mechanic will also examine the steering system’s hoses along with the power steering fluid.

Furthermore, the mechanic will assess the steering rack and column to make sure you can steer your vehicle efficiently. If there is something wrong, it’s advisable to address them promptly.

8) Shocks and Struts Inspection


Your car’s shocks and struts play a crucial role in managing the impact and bounce when you drive over bumps. They also play a vital role in turning the vehicle.

It’s a good practice to have them inspected by a mechanic every 50,000 miles. If you observe a reduction in ride comfort or feel less control while driving, it’s a sign to contact a mechanic for assessment.

9) Exhaust System Inspection

Exhaust System

If your exhaust system is not functioning correctly, you might notice a check engine light on your vehicle’s dashboard. Nevertheless, it’s possible to identify early issues through a brief inspection.

During this inspection, the exhaust system is assessed, and an emissions test may be conducted. Additionally, the professional will observe the smoke coming from the tailpipe to ensure it appears within the normal range.

10) Drivetrain Check


As we discussed the importance of checking transmission fluid, but there’s more to the inspection. When you go for your car service, the professional will also thoroughly examine the drivetrain, regardless of whether your vehicle is four-wheel, all-wheel, rear-wheel, or front-wheel drive.

Your transmission should always change gears without any bumps. Your differentials are also examined to make sure that the engine’s power is effectively distributed to the wheels.

Read More: Bad Drivetrain Symptoms and Causes

11) Test Drive

Test Drive, full car service

After completing the necessary services, your mechanic will conduct a test drive of your vehicle to make sure all parts are working efficiently, and there is no unusual noise or handling problems.

Benefits of Full Car Service

The full car service is very important to ensure the efficient performance of different systems of your vehicle. Most manufacturers advise a full service either after every 12,000 miles or annually, depending on whichever comes first. Following are the major advantages of conducting full car service.  

1) Improve Your Safety

When important parts of your car (like the tires or engine) don’t work properly, it can make driving dangerous for you and others.

Addressing issues promptly is akin to preventing unforeseen accidents. Regular maintenance serves as a protective shield against mishaps. Much like an insurance policy, maintaining your car’s systems in peak condition ensures a safer driving experience.

2) Fuel Efficiency

When the engine and other parts of your vehicle operate smoothly, everything functions optimally. When the engine runs efficiently, you’ll also be pleased at the gas station.

A properly working engine achieves the same power with less fuel consumption. Even though you might not save a lot of money, every little bit helps, especially when you don’t have much money to spare.

3) Improve Lifespan

Remember, if you take care of your vehicle, it reciprocates by taking care of you. Neglecting oil changes and routine tune-ups will eventually impact the engine’s longevity.

This principle applies to all parts of your vehicle. Even if your vehicle is known for reliability, sticking to the maintenance plan can significantly extend its lifespan.

4) Saves Money

In addition to the savings you enjoy at the gas pump, regular maintenance offers additional financial benefits. It safeguards your investments by reducing the risk of accidents.

Doing regular maintenance helps stop problems before they happen. Instead of spending a lot on costly repairs, you may invest a small amount now to keep everything in good condition. For example, changing spark plugs costs much less than fixing a messed-up catalytic converter that wasn’t taken care of.

5) Higher Resale Value

Maintaining service records can be advantageous if you want to sell your car in the future. It shows buyers that you’ve taken good care of it, and they’ll trust it more.

Furthermore, if your vehicle still looks and works great, you may ask for a higher price when selling it. To determine the appropriate price, consider the KBB value, taking into account the mechanical and cosmetic condition of the car. 

Car Maintenance Checklist by Mileage

  • Every 3,000 to 10,000 Miles: Change the Oil and Check all Fluids
  • Every 5,000 to 8,000 Miles: Rotate the Tires
  • Every 15,000 to 30,000 Miles (or Yearly): Change the Engine Air Filter
  • Every 10,000 to 20,000 Miles: Swap out the Brake Pads
  • Every Few Years: Change the Brake Fluid
  • Every 30,000 Miles: Flush the Coolant
  • Every 30,000 to 40,000 Miles: Change the Transmission Fluid
  • Every 50,000 Miles: Change the Power Steering Fluid
  • Every 70,000 Miles: Change the Brake Rotors
  • Every 100,000 Miles: Change the Spark Plugs

How much does a Full Service Cost?

The cost of the full car service varies according to your vehicle model and service provider. The average cost of a full car service typically falls within the range of $180 to $850. But if you’re capable of handling the maintenance jobs at home, you’ll incur only a fraction of that expense.

When you opt for a comprehensive service that combines multiple tasks, like tire rotations and oil changes, you can expect to pay significantly less than if you were to have these services done individually. Bundling services together typically results in more substantial savings.

FAQ Section

What is car maintenance?

Car maintenance encompasses various tasks such as oil changes, tire rotations, fluid checks, steering system inspection, engine inspection, and more. It’s worth noting that timing belts and serpentine belts, usually ignored by vehicle owners, require periodic replacement.

What is the difference between a basic service and a full service?

The primary difference between a full car service and a basic service lies in the scope of checks and fluid replacements. A basic service typically involves changing only the engine oil, while a full car service involves inspecting and replacing all fluids as needed.

When should I conduct a full service?

Many manufacturers advise a full service either after every 12,000 miles or annually, depending on whichever comes first. But for precise service intervals tailored to your specific vehicle model, it is recommended to consult your owner’s manual.

What is routine maintenance on a car?

Routine car maintenance involves regularly inspecting both internal and external vehicle components to proactively avert accidents and expensive damage caused by malfunctioning components.

What is included in the full car service checklist?

During a full service, nearly every part of your vehicle is thoroughly examined. The mechanic assesses the steering system, fluids, braking system, exhaust system, drivetrain, suspension, engine, and more. If any issues or defects are detected, the mechanic informs you and provides a cost estimate for necessary repairs.

What is involved in the 10,000 km service checklist?

For most vehicle models, you will need to check and top-up all fluids (engine oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, coolant, etc.) after covering 10,000 km. It is also recommended to rotate your wheels and inspect the alignment and balancing of your wheels after covering 10,00 km.

What is Maintenance Checklist by Mileage?

  • Every 3,000 to 10,000 Miles: Change the Oil and Check all Fluids
  • Every 5,000 to 8,000 Miles: Rotate the Tires
  • Every 15,000 to 30,000 Miles (or Yearly): Replace the Air Filter
  • Every 10,000 to 20,000 Miles: Swap out the Brake Pads
  • Every Few Years: Change the Brake Fluid
  • Every 30,000 Miles: Flush the Coolant
  • Every 30,000 to 40,000 Miles: Change the Transmission Fluid
  • Every 50,000 Miles: Replace the Power Steering Fluid
  • Every 70,000 Miles: Replace the Brake Rotors
  • Every 100,000 Miles: Replace the Spark Plugs

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