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25 Nov 2020
Adam Bate

Signs your car needs a service


Service light

If your car is making strange noises, it might be time to take it to the garage. we’ve listed what you need to look out for.

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The last thing you need is your car breaking down or having to fork out for a costly repair. Catching these signs early could stop minor issues developing into bigger ones and in turn, save you money.

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How often should you service your car?

According to Halfords, you should service your car every 12,000 miles or every 12 months, whichever comes first. 


1. Dashboard warning lights

Dashboard warning lights are the most obvious sign that something isn’t working. Don’t ignore them!

If a yellow “check engine” light appears on your dashboard, you should get your car to the garage for a service ASAP. There are a range of engine problems that this light could indicate. 

A lot of cars also have a service light – usually in the shape of a spanner – that will come on when your next service is due. 

Your car's manual will show you what each of your dashboard lights mean.


2. Strange noises

If you hear any unusual noises coming from your car then you should get them checked out.

Squealing noises like a high-pitched squeal when turning the ignition on could indicate a problem with the cambelt. It might be worn, or loose. 

Squealing brakes could be down to worn brake pads.

Whining from under the bonnet is usually caused by a loose cambelt, which can cause all sorts of issues from overheating to battery problems.

Scraping noises or sounds coming from your car needs to be checked out.

This could be a broken part of your car scraping on something else, causing extra damage to both. This could also cause a reduced ride comfort, e.g. If your tyres are scraping on the wheel arches.

Uneven engine noise could be an easy fix but could also indicate a more serious problem with your engine.

Louder-than-usual exhaust noise tends to be easy to fix but should be looked at because there’s a risk your exhaust pipe could fall off.

Crunching gears make a huge noise when there’s an issue. If you hear a crunching noise as you change gear, get your car checked.


3. Loss in power or stalling

Difficulty getting up to speed, or not being able reach the same distance with a full tank of petrol could mean something is wrong. 

Also stalling even though you’re in the right gear can be a tell-tale sign.


4. Unusual brake activity

Vibrating or pulling under braking could be due to worn brake discs or pads, a suspension problem, or an issue with your steering. 

If you notice oversensitivity or resistance you should get your car checked. 

It's not safe to drive like this so get your car serviced as soon as possible.


What can you do you avoid these problems?

  • Get your car serviced regularly

  • Understand how your car works normally so you become aware of any unusual changes


What if your car doesn’t start?

You’ll need to call a breakdown service.

If you want to be extra prepared, check out this handy roadside assistance breakdown kit from Amazon:

Find a roadside breakdown kit on Amazon


READ MORE: Breakdown kit checklist



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