a mechanic checking a dipstick

Is It Illegal to Not Service Your Car?

December 14, 2023

For responsible car owners, servicing their vehicle is a routine part of its annual maintenance - but is it illegal to not service your car? While it’s strictly not against the law to not service your car on a regular basis, you could end up being liable for costly repairs in the event of an accident. Let’s take a closer look at why regular maintenance matters.

What Does Car Servicing Entail?

Generally speaking, car servicing in the UK involves a series of maintenance checks and procedures carried out at regular intervals, or after the car has travelled a certain number of miles. These checks typically include engine oil change, filter replacements, brake checks, and other fluid level checks. Put simply, servicing ensures that your car is running efficiently and safely, so you can feel confident on the road.

Why Regular Maintenance Matters

Regular servicing of your car is crucial for several reasons: not only does it extend the lifespan of your vehicle, but it also ensures better fuel efficiency, and most importantly, it ensures the car is safe to drive both for you, your passengers, and other drivers out on the road. And as we already mentioned, neglecting regular maintenance can lead to bigger, more costly repairs in the future, while also compromising the safety of the vehicle.

The Legal Requirements for Car Owners

In the UK, there is no legal requirement that explicitly states you must service your car regularly, however all car owners are legally required to ensure that their vehicles are safe to drive on the road at all times. It’s also important not to confuse servicing with your annual MOT: your MOT test checks for minimum safety standards and is a legal requirement, but doesn’t replace regular servicing.

Consequences of Neglecting Car Maintenance

Vehicle Safety and Roadworthiness

Failing to service your car regularly can lead to critical issues that compromise its safety and roadworthiness. For example, worn brake pads or tyres, if not checked and replaced, can lead to dangerous situations on the road that put you, your passengers and other drivers at risk.

Impact on Insurance Claims

Failing to perform regular servicing can also negatively impact your car insurance; in the event where you claim for a car accident, if it's found that the accident was caused due to lack of maintenance, your insurance claim could be affected, meaning you’d possibly have to pay out of pocket for any repairs. It’s worth noting that insurance isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free card; most Insurers will expect you to take reasonable care to maintain your car in a roadworthy condition.

Balancing Manufacturer Recommendations and Legal Obligations

a person pouring engine oil

While it's not legally mandated to service your car in the UK, following the manufacturer's recommended service schedule can be beneficial: these recommendations are designed to ensure the longevity and efficiency of your vehicle, and balancing these recommendations with your legal obligations (aka your annual MOT) can keep your car safe for you and your passengers, as well as your fellow drivers.

Regular Maintenance Best Practices

As a car owner, here are some best practices for regular maintenance:

  • Follow the Manufacturer’s Service Schedule: As we just mentioned, it’s a good idea to adhere to the service schedule outlined by your car’s manufacturer; this often includes regular oil changes, brake checks, tyre rotations, and inspections of various car components.
  • Stay Proactive with Repairs: If you notice something amiss with your vehicle, such as strange noises or performance issues, don't wait for your next scheduled service. Have it checked out immediately to prevent the problem from getting worse and impacting your vehicle’s road-safeness.
  • Keep Records of Maintenance: Always maintain a log of all services and repairs, as this can be invaluable for warranty claims, reselling your car, and for your own reference.
  • Perform Basic Checks Regularly: Basic maintenance tasks like checking tyre pressure, oil levels, and coolant levels can be done at home and can significantly contribute to your car’s health.
  • Choose Reputable Service Providers: Finally, always ensure that your car is serviced by qualified and experienced mechanics; good servicing can make a significant difference in your car’s performance and safety, so it’s not an area where you want to skimp on quality.


Does a full service history affect my car's resale value?

Yes, a full service history can positively affect your car's resale value as it provides proof of regular maintenance and indicates that the car has been well cared for, all of which is attractive to potential buyers.

Are there any legal implications for selling a poorly maintained car?

When selling a car, you are legally required to describe it accurately. Selling a poorly maintained car without disclosing its condition may lead to legal consequences if it's deemed misleading to the buyer.

Can failing to service my car void its warranty?

In some cases, neglecting regular servicing can even void your car's warranty; some warranties include conditions that require regular maintenance to be carried out as per the manufacturer's recommendations.