What’s the Difference Between an Interim and a Full Service?

Car engineHaving your car serviced regularly will reduce the wear and tear on many oiled and greased components, extend the life of the vehicle and prevent roadside breakdowns.

While most cars older than 3 years require a yearly MOT test, there are no set rules regarding how often a car should be serviced or what should be included in it. There are, however, several “rules of thumb” you should consider following:

  • Adhere to the manufacturer’s recommended service intervals during the warranty period at the least.
  • For low mileage vehicles, 10,000 miles a year or less, there’s no need for an interim service, a once a year full service is, in most cases, sufficient.
  • For high mileage vehicles, 12,000 miles or more, an interim service midway through the year is recommended in addition to a full annual service. Drivers of vehicles that only carry out short journeys with lots of stopping and starting (such as delivery drivers), should also consider additional interim servicing.
  • High-performance and high-value vehicles will hold their value better if there’s proof of regular servicing.

Difference Between an Interim and a Full Car Service

Every garage will offer a slightly different service, and some cars will have specific parts that may need to be checked or replaced at certain mileage and age points, but in general:

Typical Interim Car Service

A typical interim service will involve an oil change, change of filters, visual checks on fluid levels with top-ups as required along with a visual check of key car components such as brakes, handbrake, suspension, lights, and tyres.

An interim service will typically involve around 40 – 50 checks.

Typical Full Car Service

A typical full car service will involve the following:

  • Oil and oil filter change.
  • Air filters.
  • Fuel filters (diesel engines).
  • Gearbox oil check and topup.
  • Steering wheel and driveshaft operation.
  • Wheels removed and checked for damage to both wheels and tyres.
  • Brake discs, cylinders, hoses, pipes, pads and handbrake checked.
  • Brake fluid check and replace if required.
  • Visual check for leaks and of exhaust and suspension.
  • Shock absorber check.
  • Clutch check.
  • Throttle check.
  • Lights and electronics check.
  • Belts condition check.
  • Moving parts check with a focus on moving parts that are prone to wear and tear.
  • Spark plug check and replace if required.
  • Mirrors, windows and wipers checked.
  • Bodywork and underside check for corrosion.
  • Greasing of various components such as locks and hinges.

A typical full car service will involve around 60 – 70 individual checks.

How Much Does it Cost to Service a Typical Car?

The team here at Job Prices recently updated our guide to car servicing costs here. Go check it out and see how much garages are typically charging for both full and interim servicing.

Independent or Franchise Dealerships/Garages – Which Is Best?

There are several ingrained misconceptions that still persist today:

  • You’ll get a better level of service at the main dealership.
  • You need to service your car at a main dealership for the warranty to be valid.

Neither of these statements is true.

There are plenty of independent garages that offer excellent levels of service and a quick look at the online reviews of many main dealerships reveal plenty of unhappy customers.

Choosing a main dealership for your car’s service is no guarantee you’ll get a better service.

Under UK competition law, car manufacturers cannot invalidate a warranty because you choose to service the vehicle at a competitor. They can, however, invalidate it if they can prove the service was below standard and affected the performance of the vehicle.

If you have a high-value or high-performance vehicle, you may find that buyers will want to see evidence that it was serviced by a manufacturer-approved garage.


We hope you found this guide to the key differences between an interim service and a full service helpful.

Of course, it’s very difficult if not impossible to list every item that’s included in these two procedures because every garage will have its policies.


How long does it take to service a car?

This depends on the car, its age and condition but an interim service should take between 1 and 1.5 hours while a full service requires between 2 and 3 hours.

Should a service strictly follow the manufacturer’s guidelines?

Any servicing during the warranty period should strictly follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. Beyond this, the servicing can be customised based on how the car is driven. Most independent garages will have their own schedules based on their experiences with the type of car.

Why is the first service so important?

The first service is required after the initial running-in period when the engine components have settled. This is the best time to change the oil, filters and check for any issues which left unchecked could develop into more serious problems. High-performance vehicles may require the first service after only a few thousand miles, while a typical modern car can be serviced yearly or every 12000 miles or so.

This guide to the difference between an interim and a full service was written by and was last updated in May 2022.

For more helpful guides, explore our motoring corner here.

Author - Danny Woodley
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