How to find your car’s service history

When you’re buying or selling a car, one thing that can influence the price is its service history. This can tell you or prospective buyers how well the vehicle’s been maintained. But if you don’t have a service history, where can you find it? Read on to find out.

When you’re buying or selling a car, one thing that can influence the price is its service history. This can tell you or prospective buyers how well the vehicle’s been maintained. But if you don’t have a service history, where can you find it? Read on to find out.

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
4
minute read
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Posted 2 MARCH 2021

What is a service history?

A car’s service history is a bit like your medical records. It’s a full rundown of the services, maintenance and repairs your car has had.

Your car should have a service book which the garage will use to log every service, the vehicle mileage and any work carried out. This information will then be authenticated with a stamp.

The service history can be paper documents like receipts and invoices, as well as online records kept by the garage. If the car is serviced through a franchised dealer, the manufacturer should also have online records.

When it comes to buying a used car, there will usually be a reference to its service history in the advert:

  • FSH: full service history – the car comes with a complete record of services
  • PSH: part service history – some information is incomplete or missing

Why is a service history so important?

A service history is important if you’re selling your car or buying a used car.

If you’re selling, it will show potential buyers that the vehicle has been looked after properly and well maintained.

If you’re buying, it gives you the peace of mind that the sale is legitimate and also flags up any recurring faults or problems the car has had.

Although the V5C logbook is essential for buying and selling a car, it will only show the registered keeper. Documentation in the form of a sales receipt helps to prove who the vehicle owner is.

What does full service history mean? 

A full service history means the car has a complete record of all annual services and, in many cases, what work has been done on it. Owners don’t have to keep every single receipt and invoice for repair work, but it’s a good indication that the car has been well cared for.  
 
It can also show that the car has been serviced and maintained by an official garage approved by the manufacturer.  
 
A full service history could mean better value and a higher sale price if you sell your car further down the line. A complete service record could also mean less chance of breakdowns and expensive repairs while you own the vehicle.  

What does part service history mean?

If you’re looking to buy a used car and you see Part Service History (PSH) on the advert, this usually means some of the documentation is missing, or the car hasn’t been serviced regularly.

Although you should be wary of buying a car with a PSH, it doesn’t automatically mean there’s a problem with the vehicle. It might just be a case of lost paperwork, or the garage forgetting to fill in the details after a service.

But a PSH could be used as a bargaining tool, and hopefully it’ll help you to negotiate a lower price as a buyer. Of course, it could work against you if you’re the one trying to sell the car.

How to find a car’s service history

The good news is that you may be able to find the missing gaps in a car’s service history. Before you start digging, you’ll need the car’s registration number and, in most cases, the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

Contact the manufacturer
If your car has been regularly serviced by a franchised dealer, your local showroom should be able to dig up the details about the car’s service record and maintenance.

If you own the car, the easiest thing to do is contact the manufacturer directly online. Today, car manufacturers keep computerised records, so it should be fairly simple to get the information you need.

If your car has been serviced by an independent garage, ask if they have information about your car on file. It might be trickier if the car is fairly old as it’s unlikely the records will be stored online.

If you’re buying the car, you’ll likely need the current owner’s permission to get information about it, due to data protection laws.

Ask the DVLA 
If you’re the vehicle owner, you could request information about your car directly from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) using a V888 form. This could give you details about previous owners and dealers that have worked on your car in the past.  
 
Check MOT service history 
You can check the MOT service history of your car on the DVLA website. This will give you information on where each MOT was done, and any problems found during the tests. To view the location of the test, you’ll need to enter the 11-digit number from your V5C logbook.  
 
If the MOT was done by a franchise dealer, they’ll most likely have the service records as well.  

We can help you stay on top of things too. You can login to your comparethemarket.com account and choose to have text reminders sent to you, before your MOT is due. 
 
Get a vehicle history check 
If you’re looking to buy a used car, it might be worth getting a vehicle history check, even if it has a full service history.  
 
Motor organisations including AutoTrader, the RAC, AA and HPI offer a comprehensive check of the car’s history, including:

Vehicle history checks only cost a few pounds and can give you the reassurance that there’s no hidden surprises and the sale is above board.  

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