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Car Service vs MOT

Car Service vs MOT

By Swansway Motor Group 06-02-2018


Swansway Motor Group look at the main differences between a car service and an MOT. In their featured blog they explain why both are necessary.

Here’s a thought process that many of us will have had…

My car’s passed its MOT, so why do I need to waste money having it serviced?  There’s clearly nothing wrong with it, I might as well save the cost of the service.

Are the two things the same? If your car passes its MOT does it still need to be serviced, and if so, why?

Well, firstly an MOT and a service are not one and the same thing.

An MOT is a mandatory test to ensure that your car is roadworthy; a service follows detailed guidelines, set out by the vehicle manufacturer and is designed to keep your car in peak condition.

Let’s look at it this way.

Image of Jaguar F Type being serviced by 2 Technicians

You go to the doctors for a check-up. The doctor says everything is fine, you could do with losing a few pounds, your eyesight isn’t 20/20 and you’ve got a bit of a cold, but otherwise you’re fine. That’s your MOT, you’ve passed, but you’re not going to run a marathon anytime soon!

You go to the gym for a fitness test. They change your diet, give you a personal trainer and you literally could run a marathon. That’s your service, prolonging your life and keeping you fitter.

So a car that passes its MOT is roadworthy, but it’s not necessarily running at optimum fitness. Things maybe starting to fail mechanically, the oil may need changing, or the air filter, fuel filter, spark plugs may have to be replaced and doing all this would not only make the vehicle run more smoothly it would also make the car more economical to run.

MOT testing station

Whilst both an MOT and a service check similar things, such as tyre tread depth, seat belt anchorings and so on; a service doesn’t just check these things, it replaces some parts, which improve not just your car’s performance, but also its economy and its lifespan.


If your car is 3 years old or more, then you have to have it MOT tested. It’s a legal requirement and just as importantly, without a valid MOT certificate your car insurance is invalid. An MOT test is NOT a choice you make, it’s a legal requirement.

Servicing your car IS a personal choice, so why spend the money, when you’re not being forced to?

Better safety: cars take a lot of pounding on our roads; potholes, rain, snow and mile after mile mean that there’s plenty of wear happening. You may think your car feels OK, but for your safety, and that of your passengers, regular servicing highlights out-of-sight problems, like cambelt issues, and helps provide you with peace of mind.

Mechanic, pressing a gauge into a tyre tread

Save money: we’ve probably all thought, “HOW MUCH”, when booking our car in for a service, but don’t let the upfront cost of a service fool you. Not having your car serviced can be much more costly in the long run. Regular servicing identifies problems early, which if left would become costly and expensive to rectify; the replacement of oil and air filters during your service also helps make your car more fuel efficient.

Last longer: very simply, a car is like a human, the better you look after it, the longer it’s likely to last. If you want your car to have a long life and to enjoy many years behind its wheel, then you need to take care of it by having it regularly serviced.

Sell for more: when the time comes for you to change your beloved car, you’ll really notice the difference in value if you’ve not been servicing it regularly. A full service history, or at least proof that you’ve been having your car serviced regularly, will attract more buyers, who will be willing to pay a higher price and if your part exchanging it with a dealership, this service history will make it worth more.


My car is roadworthy for the length of the MOT test certificate

It’s true that an MOT test certificate lasts for 12 months, but it can only ever be a snapshot of the condition that your car was in on the day it was tested. A year is as long time, you could get married have a baby and move house in that time, so there’s certainly time for your car to deteriorate and become unsafe.

mechanic at work in his garage

Don’t use an MOT test pass in January to reassure you that your car is safe in June. Check your oil and fluid levels, tyre pressure and lights regularly.

My car’s passed its MOT so I know it’s in good mechanical condition.

No. An MOT pass means that your car has met the MINIMUM road safety and environmental standards set out in the test by the DVSA. Nothing is dismantled in an MOT test, it’s impossible to give any indication at all of the vehicle’s mechanical condition.

An MOT test gives NO reassurance as to the mechanical condition of your car.

The law says you HAVE to have your car serviced.

No. There’s no legal requirement to have your car serviced. Whilst a car with no MOT is not insured, the same does not apply to a car that has not been serviced; however, while you may think you’re saving yourself a few bob by not servicing your car, you’re storing up trouble down the road.

A small problem, left to escalate, will cost much more to rectify, so not having your car serviced is just false economy.

Book a Service with your local Swansway dealership

Book an MOT with your local Swansway dealership

Find out about Service and MOT work available from Swansway Motor Group

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