Car Service

How to Check Your Car’s Service History

When buying or selling a car, the history of what it’s been through is a key factor in determining the vehicle’s value. The easiest way to determine this is through paperwork, and your service history is one of the most important pieces of information in your arsenal. Find out why keeping track of your service history can help you in the long run here.

A car being serviced

What is a service car history on a car?

A car’s service history is a series of documents proving that it has been maintained to the standard that the manufacturer states it should be kept to. It also shows any repairs that have been needed outside of the usual service schedule, giving a full rundown of the car’s history.

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Why should you know your car service history?

Knowing your car’s service history means you know everything your car has been through in its past. If your service history has come from either your manufacturer’s dealership or certified garages, then you know that the car has only been seen by people who specialise in your specific type of car.

Knowing your service history is also incredibly helpful when it comes to selling your car, and it can also help boost your asking price, as prospective buyers will be much happier to part with their cash if they know that the car has been treated properly during its lifetime.

How to check your car service history

The simplest way to check your service history would be to check your car’s service log. Every time your car is in for a service the book should receive a stamp of authentication from the garage carrying out the service, along with a note of the mileage and the work carried out.

If your car has been serviced at a franchised dealership, then the manufacturer will hold an online record of your services, and any dealership nationwide should be able to get your service history to hand in a matter of minutes.

If you’re trying to find the service history of a car from a previous owner, then you can by filling out a V888 form from the DVLA’s website, which allows you to request specific information from the DVLA, including contact details of previous owners. With a contact number, you can then speak to the previous owner to find more information about the car’s history, and while they may not have the paperwork, they may be able to point you towards the correct garage, who may still have the details on their systems. Remember there is always the possibility that the DVLA may deny your request, and there is also a chance that the previous owners may not cooperate.

How much does it cost to check your car service history?

Generally you can check your service history for free, assuming that you have all of the details in your logbook or are checking with your local dealer. If you are trying to contact a previous owner, however, the V888 form will cost you from £2.50 per vehicle. It’s not the only DVLA document that you’ll need to pay for, either.

What if you’ve lost your car service history?

If you’ve lost your service history, then you’re going to find it very tricky when it comes to selling the car. Buyers want to know that they’re parting their well-earned cash with something trustworthy, and a gaping hole in a car’s history can be a bit of a warning sign.

If you have lost your service history, but know that your car has only ever been serviced at franchised dealers, a quick phone call or visit to your local dealership should be able to fill in any gaps that you may have in your car’s past. Again, if there are any gaps from a previous owner, you will have to try and obtain their details from the DVLA V888 form and hope that the previous owner is able to assist in filling in the gaps.

Should you buy a car with no service history?

Naturally if you buy a car without a service history, you can’t be sure of what it has been put through in the past, and you don’t know how old any of its current components are, either. With that in mind, though, you can use it to your advantage and negotiate a lower price, and if you put the car through a full service as soon as you take ownership, you’ll know that you’re driving a car that is at least as good as it can be at the moment. As previously mentioned, it’s also quite easy to track down a service history, if you know where to look, so you may be able to get yourself a tidy bargain if you buy a car without a full service history.

Could a car service history be fake?

Over recent years, forged service histories have become more regular as sellers look to get a better offer for their cars, which is alarming as it is a criminal offence to forge a service history. If you suspect that the service history for the car you’re purchasing isn’t genuine, you can confirm any of the works carried out by calling the garages that have allegedly stamped the book, or speaking to a franchised dealership.

wrench set resting on opened car bonnet with engine showing

How to tell if a service history is fake

While it’s incredibly difficult to fake service history from franchised dealers, forging services at garages is much easier, but luckily there are a few clues to keep an eye open for that could suggest a forged service history.

  • Location. If the logbook suggests that the previous owner has had the car for the past four years and lives in the South East, yet the service history has stamps from a garage in Birmingham, you may be looking at a fake history. However, remember the previous owner could have spent time elsewhere regularly for work, so it’s worth asking just to be sure. You can also ask to see the corresponding invoices to give you peace of mind.
  • Dates. If the car’s last MOT took place in March of 2022 and had 35,000 miles on the clock, yet the last service information says a service was carried out in January 2022 at 37,000 miles, it suggests the car has been clocked. However, only 2,000 miles isn’t going to be enough to make a significant difference to the car’s value, which points you towards a fake service history. MOT service history is readily available online via the website.
  • Research the garage. If there’s no contact details on the stamp for the garage, then chances are the garage doesn’t exist. Alternatively, you can try searching for the garage online or on Companies House and if nothing comes up, then all the evidence suggests that the service didn’t happen, as it’s quite tricky to get a service at a place that doesn’t exist.

One thing you don’t need a service history for, however, is scrapping a car. If you’re looking to scrap your car, then you can find out here what paperwork you do or don’t need, and by using the Scrap Car Comparison online quote generator you can find the very best offer going for your car, guaranteed. We’ll even come and collect it from you, free of charge, no matter where you are in the country.

For more hints and tips to keep you and your car on the road, make sure to visit our Car Care hub, where you’ll find everything from driving lessons to oil changes and everything in between.

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