Buying a Used Car: Why checking the service history is important

Last updated: | By: Sebastian Szlasa

1a Service Records Porsche 928 S4

Imagine you're about to purchase a used car. It looks good, the price is great, and it drives well. But have you checked its service history? This article will explain why understanding a car's service history is important for making an informed decision when buying or selling a vehicle.

Key Points

2 Service And Maintenance Book

Understanding Car Service History

The service history of a car is like its medical record. It includes details of past maintenance and repairs, recorded in a "Car Service Book." This book usually contains information about the type of service, the date, mileage, and a stamp from the servicing garage.

A complete service history indicates a well-maintained car and can reduce the risk of future repairs. It also helps verify the car's mileage and ensures timely maintenance, thus preserving the car's value. Moreover, it can reveal any recurring issues, aiding in a more informed purchase decision.

Types of Car Service Histories

The Importance of Car Service History

Maintaining a thorough service history maintains the car's value and ensures timely maintenance. It is also crucial for warranty claims and efficient problem diagnosis.

3 Vin Number From Reg Compliance

Locating the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)

The VIN, found on the dashboard, door jamb, or engine block, is essential for verifying service records. It can be used to check odometer readings and repair history.

Methods to Check Car Service History

In Australia, you can check a car's service history and status through service centres or online platforms. When buying a car, especially from private sellers, it's important to check its service background.

4 Service Records Ford Transit Van

Verifying Authenticity of Service Records

Ensure the car's service history is genuine by checking the service book for garage stamps and mileage. Authenticating this information is crucial for a fair transaction.

Red Flags and Warning Signs

Look out for missing documentation or signs of forgery. Inconsistent mileage readings are a major concern. These can impact the car's value and should be considered in price negotiations.

5 Service Records Blank

The Impact of Incomplete Service History on Car Value

A car with an incomplete service history might be priced lower. Conversely, a well-documented car can command a higher sale price.

Preparing for Your Next Car Service

Regular maintenance is key for optimal car performance. Choose a qualified mechanic and consider the pros and cons of digital service records versus traditional service books.

Service Records Mercedes

Our thoughts

The significance of a car's service history in the used car market cannot be overstated. It serves as a key indicator of the vehicle's overall health and reliability. A comprehensive service history not only assures potential buyers of the car's upkeep but also enhances its value. It provides a transparent view into the car's past, revealing important information about regular maintenance and any major repairs or issues. For sellers, presenting a complete service history can justify a higher asking price and instill confidence in buyers. On the other hand, a car with an incomplete or missing service history poses risks and uncertainties, often leading to a lower resale value. Thus, whether you're a buyer or a seller, prioritising and understanding the service history is a crucial step in ensuring a fair and informed transaction in the used car market.

FAQ: Understanding Car Service History

What is a car service history?
A car service history is a record of all the maintenance and repairs a car has undergone. It's like a medical record for the vehicle, detailing past check-ups, repairs, and regular maintenance tasks.
Why is checking the service history important when buying a used car?
Checking the service history helps you understand the car's maintenance background, revealing any past issues, regular upkeep, and whether the car has been well-cared-for. It's essential for assessing the car's condition and value.
What does a full service history (FSH) mean?
A full service history means that all of the car's maintenance and service records are complete and well-documented. This includes regular services, repairs, and any other maintenance tasks performed on the car.
How does an incomplete service history affect a car's value?
An incomplete service history can decrease a car's value as it raises questions about the vehicle's maintenance and overall condition. It may lead to reduced buyer confidence and lower sale prices.
Can I check a car's service history online?
Yes, in many cases, you can check a car's service history online through various vehicle history checking platforms. These platforms can provide details about the car's past maintenance, repairs, and any issues noted during services. You can also use the PPSR to check the cars history.
What should I look for in a service history?
Look for consistent and regular maintenance entries, including date, type of service, mileage, and servicing garage. Also, check for any major repairs or recurring issues that could affect the car's performance.
Is a dealer service history different from a regular service history?
Yes, a dealer service history (DSH) indicates that all services and repairs were carried out by a dealership using manufacturer-approved parts and standards, which can add to the car's value and reliability.
What are some red flags in a car service history?
Red flags include missing documentation, signs of forgery, inconsistent mileage readings, and gaps in regular maintenance. These can indicate potential issues with the car's past upkeep.
How can I verify the authenticity of a car's service records?
Verify authenticity by checking the service book for official stamps from servicing workshops, matching mileage records, and, if necessary, contacting the service workshops for confirmation.
Does a good service history guarantee a trouble-free car?
While a good service history is a positive sign, it doesn't guarantee a completely trouble-free and reliable car. It's always advisable to have the car inspected by a professional mechanic PPI (pre-purchase inspection) for a thorough evaluation.

Sebastian Szlasa
Sebastian Szlasa is an automotive writer for, with an extensive background in the automotive and finance industry. Seb is based in Adelaide, Australia.
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