These days, a modern car will happily run for thousands of miles before needing any major repair work. You’d be hard pressed to noticed any faults or even slight changes to your car’s performance even over long periods of time. That doesn’t mean that you should ignore your car’s health though: A well looked after and regularly serviced vehicle will save hundreds of pounds a year on fuel, and often thousands in depreciation.

Here’s a guide to the basics of car servicing and what to look for when choosing a garage to perform the job:

Prevention is Better Than Cure

Modern cars will run for a very long time without appearing to be worn out. That doesn’t mean they don’t need attention though. Your car uses “consumables” every time it leaves the driveway, and you should always keep the basic items in fresh and in good condition.

Check the service manual: This will tell you how often the car should be taken to a garage, and what parts need replacing at that visit. Keeping the service book stamped and up to date will help when it comes to selling time too.

The Basic Consumables

As a minimum, most cars will require a change of oil every six months to a year. This is by far the most important consumable to keep up to date with, and will go a long way to keeping the engine healthy. This is also a great time for a qualified mechanic to check over the car and advise you on anything else that may need attention.

Every two years or so, (depending on the model) the car will require new air and fuel filters, and perhaps a change of spark plugs and brake fluid. At this point, the technician will also run diagnostics on the engine to check its health, and even replace water in the radiator. Major replacements, such as cam belts, won’t be required until five or so years have passed. Of course, all these figures are entirely dependent on mileage and car model, so make sure you check the service manual.

Where Should You Take Your Car for Servicing?

Established car dealers (perhaps where you bought the car in the first place) should be your first port of call in more modern vehicles. You’ll receive an official stamp in the service book and won’t run any risks of voiding warranties. On an older vehicle, you may want to decide if an independent, local garage is the better option.

Check the Credentials If You’re Going Local

If you do decide to go with a local garage to service your car, you should try to investigate how long the company has been in operation and what qualifications or manufacturer recommendations they have in place. In addition, ask around for testimonials and find out about the quality of service and the cost of the work.

How Clean and Modern Does the Place Look?

The days of dirty, disorganised back street garages should be long gone, but it pays to make a visit to the place in question before committing your car. A modern garage should be relatively clean, and very professional, both in terms of the quality of work and the customer service.

Ask about the equipment too: Many manufacturers have bespoke diagnostic systems and computerised tools, so the modern garage should be quite a high tech place., who supply machinery and tools to the automotive industry agree: “Modern cars often require very specialist tooling and equipment to repair, and modern garage should be able to talk through any of your concerns and reassure you that they have full manufacturer training in place”.

Keeping your car regularly checked and service is important not just for your safety, but for resale values as well. Choose a garage wisely, and always do your research.

Wendy Lin is a writer, painter and successful female businesswoman. She enjoys hiking and marathon training with her husband and their oldest son.