Previous car owner service history
Has this vehicle been properly serviced?
If you are buying or selling a car a full service history comes in very handy.
It helps a tonne when you are looking for a buyer and if you’ve just bought a used car with little or no service records you’ll want to find them right away.
In this brief guide, you’ll learn about car service histories, the different types of car history, what information is included, how its absence can affect a vehicle’s value, and what can be checked online.
Service records, explained
- What is service history?
- Full versus partial history
- What do you get in a complete service history?
- A full history
- How often should a car be serviced?
- Why are service records so important?
- When you can’t find service records
- Service records and car value
- Running a service history check
- MOT history and mileage check
What is vehicle service history?
Just like it sounds, a service history details a vehicle’s maintenance history, as well as any repairs that have been made to the car. The documents may be kept online or on paper and will likely include dealer stamps verifying work, invoices, repair bills, and other pertinent details.
A fully documented history is a strong signal that the vehicle is more likely to be reliable and roadworthy.
Full vs Partial Service History
There are two types:.
- A full-service history (FSH) indicates that the car has always been serviced on time by an official dealership.
In addition to all routine maintenance and services being performed, the history will detail any major items that were replaced when they came due, such as cambelts. You’ll find detailed information regarding full-service histories below.
- A partial service history (PSH) means that the car was serviced at a non-approved garage or it was not always serviced at recommend intervals.
If you have a car without records it’s well worth an online car check that looks out for write off, finance, theft and mileage fraud.
What is Included in a Service History?
Usually that means details on all maintenance work the vehicle has undergone.
It provides pertinent garage details, including the name and address of the garage performing the work, the date, and the car’s mileage at the time it was serviced.
Itemed items include all routine maintenance, such as replacing spark plugs and fuel filters, oil changes, which and the most common maintenance work performed on a car, as well as repairs, such as timing belt changes.
It’s important to note that mechanical failures and repairs are not required to be included in service history.
However, you may still be able to locate a vehicle’s service history, mainly if the previous owner took good care of the car. If so, they will have retained detailed invoices and paperwork to give you a better picture of the vehicle’s overall mechanical condition.
Read our change car ownership guide for a bit more detail.
A Full History
For a car to have a full-service history, a record of all servicing and work must be maintained. All servicing and repairs on the car must have been completed based on the manufacturer’s requirements and have been performed by a primary dealer (supplying or manufacturing dealer) of that car brand or a specialist garage.
Purchasing a car with a full-service history is the best way to get a car with a transferable manufacturer warranty still in place.
It is also precious if you are purchasing a high performance, expensive car.
Typically, as a car’s mileage gets higher, the time between the service intervals may decrease, becoming more frequent. In recent years, some manufacturers have begun to base servicing on the car’s condition. The manufacturer informs the car owner when maintenance is due, and the owner makes arrangements for the service to be performed.
Modern vehicles provide a dashboard alert system that notifies when the next maintenance period is coming up. Late Volkswagens first alert at 1,000 miles in advance.
How Often Should a Car be Serviced?
It will depend on the make and model of the car and is set by the vehicle manufacturer.
- A Ford Fiesta ST 1.5L Ecoboost-13 should be serviced every 10,000 miles,
- A Ford Fiesta 1.5L Duratorq TDCi is only required to be serviced every 18,000 miles.
Every car will have a servicing schedule that details when major, complete, and interim serving is due.
What is serviced also differs from one car to another.
However, it usually includes oil changes, topping off other crucial fluids, such as power steering fluid, transmission fluid, and brake fluid, and checking wheel bearings and shock absorbers for leaks or other problems.
Main dealers always carry out safety checks regardless of the service type. That includes a look at tyres and brakes, the exhaust system and other serviceable parts.
Why is a Service History Important?
There are two times that a car’s service history becomes a crucial piece of information:
- When you are buying or selling a used car. Vehicles that have been well-maintained and regularly serviced depreciate less than those that have not.
A vehicle with no available service history could potentially be a red flag.
When buying without a service history you are in the market to negotiate a lower price. Of course, if you are selling a vehicle with no car service history, you can expect to get less for the car.
Your vehicle service history can have a significant impact on your vehicle’s value. Well maintained vehicles depreciate less than those that are haphazardly serviced.
- If you buy a vehicle without history you must assess required maintenance and costs to complete work and stay on the road.
What if No Service History is Available?
While some people view this as a red flag, there are a few valid reasons these details would not be available.
For example, the service history booklet may have been lost or misplaced with an older vehicle. Fortunately, there is the possibility that you could still find a service history. It will simply take some effort on your part.
Until recently, DVLA included the previous keeper details on the V5C logbook and offered a quick route to sourcing previous service records. Nowadays, your best off looking through any documentation and old service invoices as they might just have a name and address for you to contact.
For more information, read below…
How Maintenance Records Affect Value
Any vehicle will start to lose its value the minute it is driven for the first time, a term referred to as depreciation. However, several factors affect the amount of depreciation, such as condition, mileage, and the availability of full-service history.
A full-service history can affect the selling price of a vehicle by thousands of pounds. If you’re a seller, a recent KwikFit survey suggests that you will need to decrease your asking price by 23%, or £2,982.41, to compensate for the missing records. At the same time, it significantly decreases your chances of finding a buyer.
The same survey found that almost half of 2,000 car owners reported that they wouldn’t even consider purchasing a vehicle without one. Of those that would consider purchasing a vehicle, they expect a discount of around 19% to counterbalance the potential risks they are assuming. As of July 2020, the average price of a used car was £15,025. At 19 per cent, this would equal £2,888.95, a considerable amount for most sellers.
Conducting a Service History Check
Services like CarVeto do not provide actual service records from their database. But, if you have bought a car without its history the Veto database can tell you if there is any hidden history.
It includes a handy mileage fraud check which is often a leading reason for car history being missing in the first place!
In the past, cars retained a service history booklet that was most often kept in the glove box of the car. Any time the vehicle was serviced, it would be stamped and dated by the dealer or garage.
That has changed in recent years, thanks to the introduction of online vehicle service histories and other records.
Today, some cars have in-car displays that show current service details, along with historical details.
The BMW Idrive system is a great example. It allows you to view the car’s service history at any time, but only garages and dealers with the proper equipment can update the service history records.
If your vehicle (or one you are considering purchasing) doesn’t include an in-car display, you have several options when trying to locate a vehicle service record.
The first involves some detective work on your part, such as driving to the various garages that have previously performed services and asking for information, such as receipts, to be reprinted.
Be aware that if you are a potential buyer, you are sure to need the current owner’s permission to contact garages and the manufacturers directly. If the car’s ownership goes further back, you can do a little research to learn even more about the vehicle.
Complete DVLA Form V888 “Request by an Individual for Information about a Vehicle”.
This will give you the names of past owners and a list of dealers who have previously serviced the vehicle.
Another option that still requires some time and effort involves contacting manufacturers and dealerships to view a vehicle’s service history details online — most manufacturers, including Audi, Fiat, Vauxhall, Mercedes, Peugeot, Skoda, and Toyota, use an internal database.
Volkswagen and Mazda also allow this but do require the use of a smartphone app.
Land Rover has this information as well, though it is only available on a vehicle manufactured from 2013 to the present. A dealer service history may also be offered by some dealers.
However, there is a much easier option that only requires you to know the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) or vehicle registration number to find this information using an online service. This unique 17 character code is typically found on the dashboard on the driver’s side, as well as printed in the engine bay.
MOT History Check
Be aware that an MOT history check does not actually check the vehicle’s service history.
Instead, it will tell you whether the vehicle has passed or failed the MOT inspection in the past, as well as the mileage at the time of the test, the name of the test centre and test location, and when the next MOT is due.
An MOT service history obtained through the DVLA could prove beneficial, though. It could help you identify any discrepancies and track down any services that may have also been performed at the test centre.
Note – commonly, an MOT test centre will service a car at the same time. If your car doesn’t have a proper history it may be worth asking the test centre if they hold service records on their database.