Vehicle servicing is important for longevity at any stage in a car’s life, but time goes by, many people question the logic of it as the cost of maintenance can appear to be more than the value of the car itself. But remember, the cheapest car is the one you have already…

“Why bother?”
“I wouldn’t know where to start!”
“Shouldn’t you really take your car to a mechanic?”

These are just a few things people usually say to me when I might mention that I service my own cars. Comments received are rarely positive, as many people think that they could never do something ‘as difficult’ as looking after a car. The funny thing is that many of the same people do other things which are way more strenuous and complex.

Now, let me say that not all cars are born equal and are therefore easy to look after. Indeed, maintaining an old Citroen SM or rare Lamborghini will require greater car care knowledge, but I say that normal servicing on a small car like a Clio is no more difficult than building an Ikea Billy Bookcase or baking a Victoria Sponge.

My Clio came with some service history and having owned the car a while now, I could see that it had been looked after. A while ago. The truth is that the oil was a bit manky and the car was in need of more love to keep it running sweetly.

A decent service starts at £243.00* and although you can get cheaper headline quotes online for car servicing, the devil is always in the detail for the work carried out and parts replaced. If I shopped about, I think I could shave about £70 off that quote, but for a car of this value something Bangernomics-style was needed.

A garage would probably allow an hour for a basic Clio service, so that’s what I did. Roughly in-line with the Haynes manual recommendations, I bought; an original equipment specification oil filter, 5W40 fully synthetic oil, air filter, and fuel filter for just under £40 from a local motor factor. I might have been able to get it all slightly cheaper using an online supplier with a discount code.

Now, a Billy Bookcase shouldn’t take the average person, who’s never built one before, longer than an hour to assemble. Yes, there are people on YouTube who can build one in 10 seconds, but we live in the real world, where there are things to move out of the way, limited space and light etc, so here goes. Tools needed: Ratchet drive, oil key for Renault (borrowed), cross head screw driver, pliers, funnel old rags.

When servicing a car like this, drain the oil out into a bucket first. While that’s going on, change the air filter, which is held in place with a few screws and clips. The fuel filter pipes just unclip and are colour coded. Change the pipes one at a time, so you don’t get muddled up. Check the oil hasn’t dripped everywhere. Next, unscrew the oil filter and screw on the new one (put some oil on the gasket first). Once all the old oil is out, put the sump plug back in and refill engine with the new oil up to the max level on the dip-stick.

Now look, it’s never that easy is it, as things seize with age and are sometimes hard to get at. But with some patience and practice, an hour spent on the drive with the Clio meant that I’d serviced the car for £40. I mean, what can you buy for £40? A Billy Bookcase starts at £45 and you have to build it yourself.

Costs so far (excluding fuel):
On the road £443.00 (inc. car, insurance etc)
Costs incurred (excluding fuel) £40.00 (oil, oil filter, air filter, fuel filter)
Servicing costs £0.00
Miles covered 500 ish
Breakdowns None
Depreciation None (market value £300 with MoT)

*price correct 09/08/19, renault.co.uk, basic service, coolant, brake fluid etc additional

Follow Matt: @fix_it_workshop or www.fixitworkshop.co.uk