Car service cost: How much should you pay?

Finance Writer · 2 August 2021
Getting your car serviced can make a dent in your hip pocket, but an unserviced car could cost you a lot more in the long run than sticking to a regular service schedule.

To help you budget for your car service, we look at how much you can expect to pay.

How much does an average car service cost?

The average car service cost in Australia is around $245 for a minor service and $386 for a logbook service, based on data shared by AutoGuru, however the make and model of the car, mechanic and type of service all influence the cost. Sometimes, location may also impact the price you pay, with costs varying around the country.

Given the influence of these factors, it can be difficult to predict with certainty the “average” cost you can expect to pay.

To make things a little easier for new car owners, several car manufacturers have introduced capped price servicing. Under the scheme, the cost of standard servicing is capped at a fixed upper limit for a period of time, as long as certain conditions are met, such as getting the car serviced by an approved mechanic. This can give car owners a greater understanding of what they’ll be paying and therefore, how much to budget.

Average car service costs around Australia

The table below shows a snapshot of the average cost of a car service by state and territory.

Be mindful that this data is inclusive of all service types (basic and logbook), all makes, all models, and all regions within each state or territory.

Australian State or Territory

 | Average cost of car service

ACT $363
New South Wales $357
Northern Territory $422
Queensland $331
South Australia $304
Tasmania $272
Victoria $337
Western Australia $320

Source: data supplied to Canstar by AutoGuru, 2021 

What factors affect the cost of your car service?

There are a number of factors that influence the cost of a car service, which is why it could be beneficial to ask a few mechanics for estimates before booking any work. Typically, the car’s make and model, the mechanic, and the type of service will have the most influence on your bill.

Here’s how:

Car make and model

Every car is manufactured differently, and the age, quality and accessibility of parts can play a role in the cost of servicing it. Additionally, the recommended logbook service intervals vary between manufacturers and vehicle models. Where some cars are only required to be serviced in 12-month intervals, some manufacturers recommend six-month intervals.

If your car is covered by a capped price servicing scheme, you’ll know upfront how much you can expect to pay for your scheduled services during the period of the plan, so you can work the cost into your budget and prevent a blowout.

As an example of the variation that can occur based on the car model, here’s a quick glance at the difference in costs between a Subaru Outback and a Holden Astra based on their scheduled servicing guides.

2021 Subaru Outback, 48 months / 50,000km ~ $801.42

2020 Holden Astra, 45 months / 60,000-70,000km ~ $499

If your car is older or not included in a capped price servicing scheme, it’s a good idea to contact a few mechanics in advance to request a quote for comparison.

Type and timing of service

Averages are great for indicative pricing, but the cost of a major service can blow out your budget. The scheduling of major services is typically based on how many kilometres your car has travelled and/or the car’s age. The older your car gets, the more expensive it can be to maintain, as there’s likely to be more wear and tear and part replacements.

Motorama suggests as a rough guide, a minor service should occur every 10,000 km whereas a major service should occur every 3 years or 30,000 km.

Major car services involve a full inspection and tune up of your vehicle as per the service directions in your logbook. They can typically include things like:

  • wheel alignment
  • spark plug replacement
  • wheel bearings
  • suspension check
  • brakes and brake fluid check
  • filter checks and replacements
  • engine and transmission oil testing and replacement
  • battery tests and other general checks

Minor car services are typically more of a surface inspection initially, engine oil and filter change, fluid replacements, adjustment of tyre pressure and other small repairs. They generally don’t cover the replacement of parts, use of special tools or time-intensive repairs that may be picked up during the service. This is how the condition of the car can impact the cost and type of service if, during basic maintenance, parts are identified as needing to be replaced. These services may be requested based on a timeframe (e.g. every six or 12-months) or distance based (e.g. every 10,000km), or whatever comes first.

The mechanic

The total amount you pay will vary depending on the standard hourly labour rates charged by the mechanic you use, and potentially whether you go with a private mechanic or car dealership.

However, you could expect some service costs to come down in the near future, when new Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)-backed legislation comes into effect on July 1, 2022. The new bill allows independent Australian motor vehicle repairers to have fair access to information, for example onboard computer software updates, that currently, only car manufacturers and their affiliated repairers might have.

The levelled playing field the bill aims to create means that Aussie motorists could soon have greater choice when shopping around for services and vehicle repairs.

Is it better to go with a dealership or private mechanic?

Choosing whether to get your car serviced at the dealership or through a private mechanic will depend on your vehicle and personal needs and circumstances.

It’s a common misconception that new car owners will void the manufacturer’s warranty should they get the car serviced at an independent garage. The ACCC states that consumers have a right to choose who carries out repairs and service on their cars under the manufacturer’s warranty, subject to the work being performed in accordance with the manufacturer’s standards. However, if an issue is identified while your car is under warranty, the dealership will most likely need to manage the repairs.

It’s also not necessarily true that servicing with a dealership will cost you significantly more, since the introduction of capped price servicing has provided transparency and in some cases, manufacturers subsidise the dealership for that work. Once the proposed new law kicks in next year, you could expect to see prices come down as more independent mechanics can compete with the dealerships.

As costs can vary based on a number of factors, it’s best to do your research and compare your options.

→Compare new car servicing brands and car servicing chains with Canstar Blue

How can car owners keep service costs down?

According to research from Canstar Blue’s 2020 Car Servicing Chains report, Australians spent around $650 on their most recent servicing (significantly more than customers on AutuGuru’s database), with two-thirds of those surveyed also not sticking to their logbook servicing recommendations.

However, one way to keep car service costs down is with regular servicing. Regular servicing can help ensure your car is reliable and safe to drive. It can also help you pick up on any issues that require future attention before they become an expensive problem requiring major repairs.


Original article by William Jolly

Cover image source: Standret/

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