How to Check Your Car Service History

Jack Dreyer | Monday 25th March 2024 11:30am

Person dropping a car key in another persons hand.

Having a full car service history could be very beneficial, particularly when you come to sell your vehicle. We surveyed over 2,000 car owners and almost 50 per cent claimed that they wouldn’t buy a car that had an incomplete service history. Those who would still buy the vehicle said they would expect a significant discount (on average nearly 20 per cent), which could leave you out of pocket if you’re selling your car.

Nevertheless, a lot of people are purchasing from online marketplaces such as Facebook in recent years as the cost of living has hit people’s wallets. Although more people are holding onto their cars for longer, rather than pay for maintenance, many people would prefer to try cheap purchasing options. The problem with this is that there is far less security in the transaction which includes an incomplete service history.

If you’re planning on buying a used car, or want to find out more about the history of your own vehicle, it’s worth knowing the following points.

What is full service history?

If you’ve ever purchased a car, you may have heard of full service history, sometimes also written as FSH. A full service history shows that the car has been serviced either every year or every 12,000 miles. This service should have been completed by the manufacturer of the vehicle or at an approved service centre. It will detail any work that’s been undertaken on the car, such as tyre changes, new brake fluid and replacement oil or more serious repairs, such as a cambelt replacement.

The service history should include any invoices and paperwork from the repair centre as well as the service book, which must be stamped by the technician after every service. If the vehicle missed one service, was taken to a non-approved service centre or is missing a stamp, then it would have a partial service history. A full service history is very desirable as it shows that the car has been well looked after. If you’re purchasing a car, you should ask to see the service history to determine that the vehicle is in the condition that the seller states it is. If you’re selling a car, make sure that you have the service history available for the buyer in case they ask for it. You should be as open as possible with them about the history of the car.

If a car hasn’t got a FSH, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be anything wrong with it. It just means that you won’t know what work has previously been carried out.

Mechanic filling out a service form for a car.

How can I find the service history of my car?

Finding the service history of your car can be a bit of a minefield, particularly if you don’t know who the previous owners were or which repair centre they took the car to.

If you’ve lost your service book or misplaced your paperwork, don’t fret. You can contact the centre who regularly services it. They should keep records of your vehicle’s history, either on paper or on a computer system. They should be able to supply you with any missing documents, providing you can prove who you are and that you’re the owner of the vehicle. They may request to see your vehicle’s log book, otherwise known as a V5C.

Previous owners

If you want to find out the service history from previous owners you can fill out a V888 form via the DVLA’s website. This allows you to request particular data from the DVLA, such as the previous owners of your vehicle and their contact numbers. This costs just £5 and you can include a cheque with the form. You could then contact the car’s previous owners and find out more information from them on the vehicle’s history. They may not have the paperwork to prove that the work was carried out, but you may be able to get some useful information. It’s worth noting that, depending on the circumstances, the DVLA may choose not to provide you with the information that you request and previous owners may not wish to help you either.

Perhaps you purchased your vehicle from a dealership. If you’re missing some of the vehicle’s service history, they might be able to provide you with some additional information.

How to check if the service history is legitimate

If you’re purchasing a second-hand car, you must be careful that the FSH hasn’t been forged. This is a crime that has increased over recent years, as many sellers know that they can get more money for a vehicle with a complete history. For a car that’s three years or younger, the service records should be held on a central database with the manufacturer, so call them to double check that the service history is correct.

Then, check that the repair centres listed in the stamp book are legitimate and that they do exist. You could even call them to check that they worked on the car and that they completed the work listed in the book.

Finally, you should ask for proof of paperwork and receipts instead of just looking at the service book. This will show that the owner paid for the work that was carried out and will tell you when it was done too.

Keeping your car up to date

The cost of living crisis means more people are choosing to either not maintain their car or go to cheap, risky sellers. Kwik Fit has the Kwik Fit Club, providing tailored membership packages to manage your car’s expenses. These packages include Premium tyres, cover on wear and accidental damage,* and up to 8 alignment adjustments over the contract** among other optional extras, all in a predictable monthly fee.

If you check your service history and realise it’s been a while or you’ve just purchased a new car, why not get some well-needed maintenance? Book in for a service at your local Kwik Fit. Find out what’s included and which servicing option is best for your car, or get in touch with us and we’ll set you up with one of our expert technicians for further advice.

*Subject to our fair use policy

**Subject to spec of vehicle

Any facts, figures and prices shown in our blog articles are correct at time of publication.

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