As car owners in Australia, we know we must take our cars to the mechanic for regular servicing. But it can be confusing to know which to get between major, minor and logbook services. Which begs the question, what is the difference between major, minor, and logbook services?
Minor car services include simple checks like inspecting filters, while major services include comprehensive inspections like overall electrical inspections. A logbook service is a service documented in a physical logbook that ensures your car stays under warranty and is serviced based on manufacturer advice.
This blog will teach you the differences between the most common services and their frequencies. We guarantee you will walk away confident and armed with expert information about car servicing in Australia.
Let’s get started!
What Types of Car Services are There in Australia?
There are three standard vehicle services in Australia; Minor Service, Logbook Service, and Major Service. Each of these services may include similar tasks as the service that precedes it, but that does not mean it is any less important or your vehicle can go without.
Many vehicle owners may become confused when you ask if they want a Minor or a Logbook Service. Many would believe that they are the same thing; however, as you read on, you’ll learn the differences as we break them down for you and show you why each of them is important.
What is a Minor Car Service?
A minor car service is a service that comes between the larger or manufacturer-required services. It is the basic maintenance routine in which your mechanic will check surface-level areas that will keep you on the road through your everyday commute.
The minor services require the least time and money as basic tasks are carried out with little to no cost on part replacements. Minor servicing is great for maintaining your vehicle, and ensuring you catch any small problems before they pose a risk to yourself or your car.
What’s Involved in a Minor Car Service?
You might be asking, ‘How do I know what is and is not covered in my minor service?’. We have provided the list below outlining what is generally performed by your automotive expert in a minor service.
- Engine oil and oil filter change – The oil filter is there to catch and filter out the dirt and grime that builds up over time, so it is recommended to replace both the oil and the filter frequently to ensure your vehicle continues to run at prime performance.
- Air and fuel filter check – Like the oil filter, your air filter and your fuel filter are key components to ensuring that dust, dirt, and debris are caught. It is vital that your fuel filter is checked frequently and replaced as needed, as the build-up over time can cause damage to the filter, which has the potential for foreign objects or particles to end up within the fuel system, putting your vehicle at risk.
The same applies to the air filter, except it is you and your health you are putting at risk by allowing the air filter to pass that dirty air into the interior of your vehicle.
- General inspection – Cars are exposed to various elements, whether sitting idle on the driveway or being mobile in your daily commute. The vibrations, heat, and repetitive use of the internal mechanical workings of the vehicle can put a lot of stress on various parts of your car over time. It is important to have your trusted mechanic complete a general internal and external inspection, ensuring the quality of your belts, fluids, hoses, breaks, and tyres are not compromised.
- Tyre check and rotation – Having your tyres checked is paramount to ensuring you don’t end up stuck on the side of the road with burst or punctured tyres. Catching a tyre puncture or crack early is the best way to ensure your safety and wallet. Your mechanic is an expert at catching a potential problem well before you’ve even realised your tyres look odd or feel funny to drive.
- Battery test – A battery test at each service is a good safeguard against a flat or dead battery at an unexpected time. Most mechanics should complete the routine check for your vehicle at least once a year. However, don’t hesitate to ask your automotive expert if you have concerns.
How Often Should I Have a Minor Car Service?
Depending on how often you are using your vehicle and how far you travel with each trip that accumulates, a blanket recommendation for a standard minor service is every 3 to 6 months, usually along with your logbook service, or once your vehicle reaches a particular kilometre-driven milestone, whichever comes first.
How Much Does a Minor Car Service Cost?
You can expect to invest between $200 to $300 for a minor service to ensure the basics are checked over and you are good to go. While location plays a huge part in the total cost of servicing your vehicle, other factors include the vehicle’s age, model, and parts needing replacing.
How Long Does a Minor Car Service Take?
A minor service will only take up to an hour as there should not be many items requiring attention or repair if you are attending each of your Logbook and Major Services. The amount of time your vehicle service takes will depend on a few factors, such as your car’s make and model, age, and kilometres travelled.
What is a Major Car Service?
A major vehicle service is a thorough check of your vehicle inside and out. It includes complex tasks such as replacing spark plugs and wheel alignment. This service will also include a variety of minor and logbook service tasks, such as replacing the brake fluid, filter checks, and wiper blade replacements.
Depending on the vehicle, the engine type, and manufacturer requirements, you generally receive a major service after every two minor or logbook ones. It is important that you don’t miss your major service, as this is when the timing and steering belts are checked for cracks and replaced accordingly. Not replacing such vehicle parts is a hazard and could pose a potential risk to you when driving.
What’s Included in a Major Car Service?
All of your major vehicle services cover a broad range of internal and external mechanical checks in a variety of areas, including performance, reliability, and safety. An in-depth view of these aspects can be found below.
- Engine check – Having your engine checked at each major service ensures there are no cracks or other damages that could lead to additional problems in the surrounding engine bay.
- Full-vehicle inspection – A full vehicle inspection with electronic scanning is necessary if you want to maintain the quality and safety of the vehicle’s interior and exterior.
- Filter checks and replacements – The oil filter is there to catch and filter out the dirt and grime that builds up over time, so it is recommended to replace the oil and the filter frequently to ensure your vehicle continues to run at prime performance. Like the oil filter, your air and fuel filters are key components to ensuring dust, dirt, and debris are caught.
It is vital that your fuel filter is checked frequently and replaced as needed, as the build-up over time can cause damage to the filter, which can cause foreign objects or particles to end up within the fuel system, putting your vehicle at risk. This also applies to the air filter, except it is your health you are putting at risk by allowing the air filter to pass dirty air into your vehicle’s interior.
- Brake fluid and brakes check – Brakes operate on a hydraulic fluid called brake fluid. The brake system needs brake fluid to function correctly and apply the pressure that brings the tyres and vehicle to a stop. It is the most vital safety aspect of your car; without brake fluid, your brakes will fail. It is not recommended that you attempt to change or add the brake fluid yourself. We highly recommend that a qualified automotive expert do this for you at each major service.
- Wheel alignment – During our daily commutes and frequent trips in our vehicles, our wheels become misaligned due to the vibrations and the bumps or potholes. A full wheel alignment during each major service will ensure you continue driving straight and simultaneously keep the added pressure off the tyres.
- Lights check – Headlights, fog lights, brake lights, and taillights all have their own specific jobs relating to your safety and that of other road users. Having all your lights checked and blown bulbs replaced will ensure you are seen at all times, and the risk of an accident is significantly reduced. Did you know it is also a fineable offence not to have all front and rear lights working and illuminated correctly?
- Coolant flush and replacement – Coolant is a coloured, watery fluid used to reduce and regulate the temperature of the vehicle system. At every service, whether major, minor, or logbook, the coolant should be checked and topped up where needed to prevent your vehicle from overheating.
- Transmission service – Having your transmission serviced is a standard part of routine car maintenance. The main reason to complete a transmission service is to flush the old transmission fluid and replace it with new, clean fluid.
- Spark plug replacement – Spark plugs are used to spark the electricity that ignites the combustion, which is needed to start your vehicle. Spark plugs send a bolt of electricity that ignites the fuel and air, putting the pistons in play and causing your vehicle to start running.
- Windscreen wiper blade and fluid replacement – Keeping your wiper fluid topped up is an important factor that many car owners simply forget, and whilst your mechanic will always check this and provide a top-up during your regular services, this is another simple maintenance task that you can do between visits, and we highly recommend you do.
- Suspension tests – Suspension are the springs or shock absorbers that connect a vehicle to its wheels and allow vibrations and heavy shocks to be dispersed through the suspension and vehicle evenly and ensure the tyres remain in contact with the road.
- Wheel bearings repacking – Repacking a wheel bearing involves removing parts of a wheel mechanism to clean it out, adding new grease into the bearings, and preventing metal-on-metal grinding.
- Tuning (as required) – Tuning a vehicle means modifying the car to optimise the inner workings for greater performance requirements and results other than simply driving. Tuning a vehicle is not a standard service inclusion and is only done per a vehicle owner’s request to use their car for performance reasons aside from everyday driving.
How Often Should I Have a Major Car Service?
A standard Major Service happens every 12-24 months or every 30,000km, whichever comes first. This can vary depending on the make and age of your vehicle; however, it is recommended not to allow a lengthier timeframe between major services if you wish to preserve the quality and safety of your vehicle.
How Much Does a Major Car Service Cost?
While location, vehicle age, and parts play a huge part in the total cost of servicing your vehicle, you can expect to invest between $350 to $600 for the major service. During a major service, deeper issues might be uncovered, saving you money long-term.
We recommend your mechanic give you a quote before beginning the service. You should ensure that your mechanic keeps you updated with any additional costs for extras that may need replacing before the item is replaced.
How Long Does a Major Car Service Take?
A major service generally takes anywhere from 2-4 hours as they involve additional checks on the electronic systems and more parts being replaced or topped up. It’s always best to get an estimated timeframe from your mechanic to plan your day around a major service.
What is a Logbook Car Service?
A logbook car service is when your vehicle is serviced at regular intervals specifically set out by the vehicle manufacturer in accordance with the ACCC laws and guidelines, along with exact specific items that the manufacturer requires you to check or change.
During your logbook car service, the mechanic completes a thorough check on both the inside and the outside of your vehicle to ensure it continues to meet safety and compliance aspects, as well as assesses for parts and products that need replacing to ensure the longevity of your vehicle’s lifespan.
A logbook service may include certain tasks covered in minor and major services, such as front and rear light checks or windshield wiper replacements. During a logbook service, the mechanic will also check the vehicle registration and safety certificate, ensuring they are still valid.
What’s Involved in a Logbook Car Service?
Now you have learnt what both minor and major services include. You might be pondering, ‘what else could be done to a vehicle that’s had a minor or major service?’. To answer your question, we have provided a list below outlining what is generally involved in your logbook service.
- Change engine oil & oil filter – The oil filter is there to catch and filter out the dirt and grime that builds up over time, so it is recommended to replace the oil and the filter frequently to ensure your vehicle continues to run at prime performance.
- Brake inspection and adjustment – Brake inspections are vital to ensure your number 1 safety feature will perform well in the event of a potential collision. If your brake pads are worn or misaligned, they should be fixed or replaced immediately.
- Check steering and suspension – Suspension is the springs or shock absorbers that connect a vehicle to its wheels and allow vibrations and heavy shocks to be dispersed through the suspension and vehicle evenly and ensure the tyres remain in contact with the road.
- 40-point vehicle inspection – A 40 Point Vehicle Inspection is a comprehensive assessment of your vehicle that aims to identify every safety issue your car may have. A variety of aspects are included within the 40-point inspection. Some of these have already been covered but do include a check on the tyre tread, air pressure, car battery and charging system, exhaust system, drive and fan belts, coolant and transmission fluid, lights, windscreen and wipers, brakes and steering, suspension, transmission, engine, diff, clutch, and vehicle body.
- Fan Belt inspections – Without your fan belt, your fan won’t work, and when your fan won’t work, your engine bay will retain excessive heat. It is vital to regularly check drive and fan belts at each logbook inspection and replace them if there are any signs of dryness or cracks. You risk snapping the belt and losing the full capacity of your vehicle otherwise.
- Check and top up all fluid levels – The wiper fluid, water reservoir, oil, coolant, and brake fluid should all be checked and replaced or topped up accordingly at your logbook service.
- Computer battery test – A Battery Test at each service will prove a good safeguard against the potential of a flat or dead battery at an unexpected time. Most mechanics should complete the routine check for your vehicle at least once a year. However, don’t hesitate to ask your automotive expert if you have concerns.
- Check tyre pressures – Both regular driving pressure and heat can cause tyre pressure to become uneven. Having your tyre pressure checked and tended to regularly is paramount to ensuring you don’t end up stuck on the side of the road with burst or punctured tyres.
Many handy guides are available to understand the different tyre pressure requirements and how to top up tyre pressure between services confidently. Your trusted Shift Automotive mechanic will happily guide you on your tyre pressure on your next visit.
- Check radiator hoses – A radiator hose delivers coolant to and from the radiator. If your hose is old or split, you could be leaking coolant. Loss of coolant will eventually lead to an overheated vehicle.
- Light checks – Headlights, fog lights, brake lights, and taillights all have their own specific jobs relating to your safety and that of other road users. Having all your lights checked and blown bulbs replaced will ensure you are seen at all times, and the risk of an accident is significantly reduced. Did you know it is also a fineable offence not to have all front and rear lights working and illuminated correctly?
How Often Should I Have a Logbook Car Service?
It’s generally best to have a logbook service performed every 3-6 months or possibly sooner, depending on how many kilometres you drive. It’s best to consult your logbook and your mechanic to determine how often you should have a logbook service done.
How Much Does a Logbook Car Service Cost?
Logbook services cost between $210 to $600 pending on if you need parts replaced. While location plays a huge part in the total cost of servicing your vehicle, other factors include the level of service you opt for, the vehicle’s age, model, and the parts that may need replacing.
We also recommend your mechanic give you a quote before beginning the service. You should ensure that your mechanic keeps you updated with any additional costs for extras that may need replacing before the item is replaced.
Many great mechanics also offer a capped price servicing option which allows the services to be capped at a particular price.
How Long Does a Logbook Car Service Take?
A logbook service may take around 2-3 hours to complete. However, the exact time your vehicle service takes depends on a few factors, such as your car’s make and model, age, and distance travelled. We always recommend you ask your mechanic, who can advise you based on their workflow.
What Type of Car Service Do I Need?
If your car needs comprehensive servicing, like a 40-point vehicle inspection or a steering and suspension adjustment, you need a logbook service. However, a minor service will suffice if you only require small things, like battery and filter checks. It ultimately depends on the state of your car.
If you own a car and manage the maintenance schedule of your vehicle, you have most likely been presented with the question: ’minor service, logbook service, or major service?’. It can be hard to remember which service your car is due for. When so many factors are involved in each service, you don’t want to miss having a critical part checked or replaced.
Most vehicles will have their vehicle logbook with them, and this is one of the easiest ways to check which service type your car is due for. However, if you have not followed the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations and fallen out of schedule with your services, the decision might come down to cost. Maintaining your car with a minor or logbook service can ensure you cover most of the required maintenance factors and aren’t likely to run into any trouble on your regular commute.
However, if you can’t remember when your last major service was, we recommend opting for a major service to ensure all bases are covered, all parts are checked and replaced, and you receive peace of mind knowing that a professional has checked every inch of your car.
Opting for the major service is also great as that can kick start your regular maintenance schedule again, and if you book your next service immediately with your mechanic, your mechanic will always know which service is required next.
Is Car Servicing Important?
Servicing your car is definitely an important task for a vehicle owner. Your safety depends on regular vehicle maintenance by a trained professional. If you want to ensure both quality and vehicle lifespan, as well as your safety, servicing your car will be your ultimate priority.
Not servicing your car will damage the mechanical functions of the vehicle and essentially cost you more if major damage needs fixing. Save yourself the hassle and worry by booking your next service ahead of time to ensure your mechanic sends you that reminder and the service will not be forgotten.
What Happens if a Car Is Not Serviced?
If your vehicle isn’t regularly serviced, you risk damaging the vehicle and potentially causing dust or oil sludge to build up in your engine and air filters. In addition, not servicing your car regularly puts added pressure on the vehicle components, increasing running and repair costs.
If your vehicle is due, or overdue, for a service, don’t delay booking it, as this will cause you more headaches further down the track if you go without. If you have an older model vehicle, we recommend you don’t go more than six months without a service, as older cars tend to be at risk of complications that need monitoring regularly.
Does a Low Mileage Car Need Servicing?
A low-mileage car still requires servicing; however, the service intervals are less frequent, and the vehicle’s maintenance is less complex than a vehicle with high mileage. For a low-mileage car used infrequently, parts such as air and oil filters may not need changing at every service.
Should I Get My Car Serviced at the Dealership or Independent Mechanic?
It’s best to get your car serviced by a mechanic, even though there are some benefits to getting your car serviced at a dealership. The quality and affordability of a service by an independent mechanic always outweighs taking your car to a dealership where you deal with long wait times and inflated prices.
We highly recommend choosing an independent mechanic for three main reasons. The first and most important for the majority of vehicle owners is the cost. A dealership often charges excessive prices for both their minor and major car service packages, whereas an independent mechanic has fewer locations to manage, fewer overheads, and fewer outgoings; therefore, they can charge fairer prices and still maintain the business and their employees.
Secondly, independent mechanics can also provide you with genuine parts and products specific to your vehicle make. Having these available from your local mechanic means you won’t be voiding your car warranty any time soon.
Lastly, your local independent mechanic is more likely to provide a friendlier, more welcoming, and tailored customer service experience.
Minor Service vs Major Service: What Is the Difference?
Two of the main differences between Minor and Major services are the extent to which your mechanic checks over your vehicle and the number of parts and products needing replacement. Often you might find that during your minor services, you won’t need comprehensive replacements such as spark plugs or brake fluid.
What Affects the Cost of a Car Service?
A variety of aspects contribute to the cost of your car service; these can include the age of the vehicle, the quality of the current parts that may need replacing, and the accessibility or delivery of parts. The cost also depends on whether you need a minor or major service.
Do I Need a Logbook Service Every Year?
A logbook service is not recommended yearly, depending on how often you use your vehicle and how far you travel with each trip.
A blanket recommendation for a typical logbook service is every 3 or 6 months or once your vehicle reaches a particular kilometre-driven milestone, whichever comes first.