Car service history check: What does it mean?

The history of a vehicle is important in assessing how much a car is worth, this includes its service history.


30 second car valuation


What is a service? How is this different from an MOT?

What is a service?

A service is part of the vehicle’s maintenance schedule, whereas an MOT is mandatory where a vehicle requires it to remain on the road (most vehicles require this from 3 years old and require an annual MOT check). An MOT consists of a set of safety checks to ensure the vehicle is safe enough to be on the road.

We believe at webuyanycar that vehicle servicing should be carried out in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommended schedule.

Regular servicing can make a big difference to the lifespan of a vehicle, and its susceptibility to mechanical problems or breakdowns. At a service, a qualified mechanic will check a number of points of the vehicle, and where appropriate, change oil, fluids and parts in accordance with the service schedule and manufacturer’s requirements, many which specify exact types of oil or parts to be used.


Know your vehicle’s service history


Knowing a vehicle’s service record is an important part of buying or selling a car. A full-service history will influence a car’s value; the more detail, the better. If you’re considering buying a used car that doesn’t have a full-service history, it is worth knowing that this can lower a car’s value and should be reflected in the resale price. This means you won’t have the full story of the car, how it has been treated and what condition it is in, which could end up costing more money in the long run.

An incomplete service history isn’t necessarily a bad thing and doesn’t always mean anything sinister - sometimes documents are simply lost. However, you will need to find this out before buying the car to avoid making a misled deal and being stuck with a car that could cost hundreds of pounds to repair. Other things to consider before buying a car are what service work needs done imminently – is the next service an interim or full service? Maybe a belt needs to be changed which could have a significant cost. And where has previous work been carried out? Some manufacturers can be strict with where you are allowed to service the vehicle whilst it is in warranty, and what parts were used. For example, if a vehicle had its oil changed at home by a keen hobbyist or by a garage that isn’t VAT registered – it won’t count as part of the service history, and could possibly have damaged the vehicle if maintenance wasn’t to a professional standard or using the correct parts.

  • What is service history?

    A stamp in a service book is valid as long as the date & mileage of the service is included, along with the stamp of the garage. If it’s missing any of these, then future buyers don’t know at what mileage the service was conducted.

    If you have service invoices, they must be from a VAT registered garage and be correctly prepared. This should include the name, address and VAT number of the garage where the work was performed, and details of what was conducted at the service. If the garage isn’t VAT registered, it won’t be considered valid.

    If you have misplaced your service documents, resulting in a part-service history, you may be able to obtain copies of your service records from the garage it was carried out. Manufacturer franchise dealers increasingly use electronic records, so you may be able to obtain these through an online portal if this is the case.

  • How do I know my vehicle needs a service?

    This will vary depending upon the type of vehicle you drive. For typically older vehicles, you need to observe the service interval parameters indicated in the vehicle service’s schedule. Most vehicles that have been maintained correctly will have a scheduled prompt to display the service indicator on the vehicle dashboard, prior to the service being due. Some more modern vehicles do not strictly adhere to a service schedule, using Condition Based Servicing instead, where the vehicle will advise when and at what mileage a service is due based upon the use of the vehicle.

  • What is full-service history?

    Full-service history is where the vehicle has been serviced in accordance with the vehicle’s service schedule, as defined by the manufacturer. Most schedules have defined limits by when a service is due. These are either a period of time (such as 12 months), or defined mileage (such as 12,000), when the service will be due, whichever comes first.

    A full service record is of particular importance when a vehicle is in warranty. If a vehicle has missed a service, it’s likely that any claims under warranty regarding the vehicle will be invalid as a consequence.

    Another factor that affects a warranty claim is where the vehicle has been serviced. If the vehicle has not been serviced with approved or equivalent parts by a recognised garage, a warranty claim could be rejected.

  • What if I missed a service interval by a couple of months, or couple of thousand miles?

    If you are selling to webuyanycar, we apply a tolerance which depends upon whether the vehicle is in its warranty period or not. If it’s in its warranty period the tolerance is much stricter to ensure that the warranty is not invalidated. Outside of warranty, our tolerance for a missed service is more relaxed. If you pop into one of our branches, we can easily assess what service history you have for your vehicle.

  • What is part-service history?

    If your vehicle has missed one key service interval – or many – as long as you have evidence of one service record, that’s Part Service History.

  • What is no service history?

    If the vehicle is past the interval for its first service and no service has been carried out (or no records exist), then the vehicle has No Service History.

    Any future buyers of a vehicle with No Service History will intend to pay significantly less for the vehicle, as it’s possible that the lack of servicing has affected vehicle parts and components which may need replaced.

  • What if the first service is not due?

    If your vehicle hasn’t reached either of its first service indicators (and your dashboard service light isn’t on), then it’s not due. At webuyanycar, we offer the same for Not Due as we would for a vehicle with Full Service History, as the warranty has not been affected by a missed service interval.


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