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Autodata Skillnet  

Look after your car and it will look after you


There’s a common belief that your car always drives better after you’ve spent hours cleaning and waxing it. Summer’s not too far away and what with entertaining the kids, doing the gardening or clearing out the garage, looking after your car is often overlooked at this time of year, particularly if you are planning on driving abroad on holiday.

Don’t forget, however, that regular servicing of your vehicle will not only improve its reliability, safety and environmental performance but also significantly protect its re-sale or trade-in value. Research has shown, however, that many motorists rely purely on the annual MOT, which is both a false economy and potentially dangerous. A vehicle’s service history can not only boost its value but also make the difference between a desirable and completely unwanted car. The absence of a service history may knock £500 or more off a car’s value or, even worse, put off potential buyers completely.

The advice from the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), the professional association for individuals working in the motor trade, is ensure that your car is maintained by qualified professionals. Modern vehicles have more computing power and electronics than the Apollo moon rocket and systems such as ABS, ASC, AWD, EBA and ESP are commonplace. Such technology demands a high level of technical knowledge and expertise, so it is paramount that your vehicle is entrusted to safe hands.

Commented John Tinham CAE AMIMI, UK Technician of the Year and IMI member:

"Most of us rely on a car every day so it’s vital that it is maintained properly and at the manufacturer’s recommended intervals. When it comes to a service, communication with the garage is everything, and you have a right to deal with fully trained and qualified staff. If you are shopping around for the best deal, make sure that technicians are adequately qualified to work on your particular make of vehicle."

To give motorists peace of mind, the IMI has a list of handy ‘top tips’, when it comes to getting the car serviced.



  1. Check if the garage employs IMI members, who all possess a membership card to show they are suitably qualified. Ask whether the business is registered by the local Trading Standards Office.
  2. Ensure that the garage is familiar with your car's make and model.
  3. Prior to booking your car in, consider how it's been running. Be honest – inform the service staff of any problems and/or any recent work carried out.
  4. Check what is included within the service - ask to see a copy of the service schedule for your vehicle type.
  5. Check the breakdown of costs, including all parts, consumables, labour and VAT - you should know exactly what you are paying for.
  6. Insist that no additional work is undertaken without your express permission. If recommended, this should be quoted against, not estimated.
  7. Ask for any replaced parts to be retained for your inspection upon collection.
  8. Ensure that you receive a detailed itemised report with a verbal explanation of the work undertaken and/or recommended. Ask about the garage’s quality control checks and make sure your service book is stamped.
  9. Ensure that the name of the technician that works on your car is detailed on your invoice. Ask to speak to him or her specifically, if you have any concerns or require necessary explanations.
  10. Ensure that you receive a guarantee. Make sure you know what it covers, check the period of validity and identify the complaints procedure, should a query arise.