Help save water - care for your car with rain

Help save water - care for your car with rain  
Filed under:
on 05/30/2006

There’s a common belief that your car drives better after you’ve cleaned it. Summer’s around the corner and what with entertaining the kids, gardening or clearing out the garage, looking after your car is often overlooked at this time of year, particularly if you are planning to drive abroad on holiday.

With many areas of the country now facing drought measures, motorists can play their part in helping to conserve water supplies, says the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), which is the professional association for the retail motor sector.

If you have a water butt, for example, top up your windscreen washer bottle using rainwater. Not only is it a free supply, rainwater is better for the car’s water jets. Simply place a fine mesh cloth over the reservoir aperture as a filter, which will avoid any blockages. Also, don’t let a rainy weekend spoil your fun. Why not grab your coat, wellies and a sponge and clean your car in the rain? If you have them, get the kids to help but leave the car waxing for another day!

Don’t forget, says the IMI, that regular servicing of your vehicle will not only improve its reliability, safety and environmental performance but also protect its re-sale or trade-in value. Owners of vehicles over three years old should not 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 IMI advises motorists to ensure their car is maintained by qualified professionals. Modern vehicles have sophisticated electronic systems and 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, who is a member of the IMI, three times UK Technician of the Year and one of the first technicians to achieve Master Technician status for the motor industry’s recently launched Automotive Technician Accreditation scheme:

"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 or even before. 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 qualified to work on your make of vehicle. Look out for ATA technicians, as this is the new benchmark of competence in the industry which is your sign of reassurance."

The UK’s first national voluntary assessment system for technicians, Automotive Technician Accreditation (ATA), has almost 2,000 technicians accredited since launching in June last year. Governed by the Institute of the Motor Industry, ATA is the national benchmark of competence for technicians, who are working on increasingly complex vehicles.

To achieve ATA status, technicians must pass a series of practical tasks and an on-line knowledge test. Accredited technicians are issued with a unique photo identity card and are listed on an internet register. They must be re-assessed after five years to maintain their credentials. ATA is backed by the Government, consumer organisations and all major vehicle manufacturers and leading independent service and repair chains.

Commenting on Automotive Technician Accreditation, Sarah Sillars, IMI chief executive, said:

"ATA clearly identifies proven current competence, which is as important to consumers as it is to businesses seeking qualified technicians. The level of support within the motor industry would suggest that at least 50% of businesses involved in vehicle servicing and repair nation-wide will be actively supporting ATA within the next five years."

Full details of Automotive Technician Accreditation are on-line at or by telephone on 01992 511521.

IMI’s Top 10 tips on having your car serviced

1. Check that technicians are fully qualified and/or accredited by an organisation such as the IMI or Trading Standards.
2. Ensure that the garage is familiar with your car's make and model.
3. Inform the service staff of any problems and/or any recent work carried out – be honest.
4. Check what is included in the service, and what isn’t. If you don’t have it, ask to see a copy of the service schedule for your vehicle.
5. Check the breakdown of costs, including all parts, consumables, labour and VAT - you should know exactly what you are paying for.
6. Confirm that no additional work will be undertaken without your authorisation. If recommended by the garage, this should be quoted for, not estimated.
7. Ask for any replaced parts to be retained for your inspection.
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 and check the period of validity.

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