Car BuyingCar Selling

A Complete Guide to Using Car Service History

The service history is one of the most sought after pieces of information sellers can possibly have when it comes to selling a vehicle. In fact, a study from Kwik Fit actually revealed it can add a staggering 20% onto the value of your car when selling. It is a renowned sign of well looked after vehicle that the vast majority of owners and sellers alike are well aware of, but to utilise them and realise their potential, you need to know just how they work. 

What is Car Service History? 

The best place to start is by looking at what a service history actually is. Simply put, when the time comes for you to get your service history, the party carrying out the service marks this in your service record with an official stamp. Whether that’s just a good habit you have, you’re concerned for your car health or even if you’re contractually required from financing agreements, the same process happens. If done by an approved or franchised servicer, then this is often stored online, too. 

Types of Service History 

Although the process is relatively straight forward, service history does still actually come in a few different forms. The most sought after is a full service history or FSH. This means that the servicing has been done regularly and in full, by franchise or recognised servicers that have kept a perfect record. This is the history that is worth the most in added value. 

The other kind of service history is a part service history. That happens in cases where services are sporadic or missed, and even in some cases when done by independent service providers rather than official parts of the manufacturer or dealer the car was bought from. They still add a lot of value to the car, but of course, not to the same level as a full service history. 

How do you find it When Buying? 

So once you know the different types of services and what you could well be looking at or looking for when you’re looking to buy, it’s time to learn how to find it. In the vast majority of cases, if a dealer is the seller of the vehicle and has the service history available to them, they’ll be using it to increase the value of the car, and it will be advertised. That much is a given. 

For smaller dealers and independent sellers, however, that might well not be the case. Even if it does supposedly have one, it still helps to be sure yourself. There are a few different ways to go about it, too. 

Service Log 

The service log is often the first place to go. If it’s there it should have all of the details you need to be able to verify and view the servicing the vehicle has had, alongside an official stamp to confirm this, preventing fraud. 

In-Built Data 

Many more modern vehicles have inbuilt service systems. They include service lights on the dashboard to suggest a service is due for mileage or time reasons, as well as in some cases onboard computers too. Speaking to specialists of your vehicle or showrooms where the car is sold now could help you get access to this data through their systems. 

Manufacturer data 

Checking with the manufacturer is another great way to go about it. Some have their own websites where registrations or VIN numbers can be used to identify your vehicle info, but that is not the most common.  

Service Issuer Data 

If you know where the servicing has taken place, like if the seller has told you or they have suspicions, then you can speak to them yourself. They should have all of the data on file for you to get upon request if they’re able to provide it. 

Previous Owners 

Previous owners of course also have this information since they have had the car services if it has been done. You can ask them if they are the seller, or even contact the DVLA for information on how to contact them if they can provide you with it. Of course, you may not be able to find all of the owners, but in combination with other data on the list, it might get you some answers. 

What Does Good Car Service History Look Like? 

The final point we’ll look into is what a good car service history looks like. As we looked through above, you’ll, of course, be looking for the signs of authenticity first of all, like information from the service provider or manufacturer. 

You should be looking for a full service history ideally, which means annual if not servicing records for every 6 months with full services taking place rather than part servicing, but a combination fo the two is most common. 


Ultimately, car service history can tell you a lot about how well looked after a vehicle has been, but it isn’t everything. If the car is not up to date in it’s servicing or if you can’t find it (or just want to really be sure about what you’re buying, then you have other options available to you too. 

There’s a huge range of data that specialists like CarExamer can provide you to give you a solid picture of what information is stored out there about the car you’re interested in. Even better still, there is always the option of a vehicle inspection too, which is the best possible way to get a car checked out top to bottom and make sure there are no problems that already exist or are even about to happen. 

It never hurts to be cautious, and it all helps get a more accurate value for the car you’re buying, and what you’ll be able to sell it for too. 

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