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Car Servicing Record: How To Check Your Servicing Log Book

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If your vehicle doesn't have a servicing log book, it is hard to sell, or know what upkeep is needed and when. Here's how to dig up an elusive servicing record.

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Having a full service history for your car is beneficial, no matter its age. Without a servicing log book, you will struggle to know:

  • What kind of maintenance it needs and when
  • Replacements or modifications that have been applied to the car
  • Damage it's sustained over its lifespan and how that impacts its performance
  • Its likelihood to pass an MOT test
  • Its projected lifespan and the quality of its continued performance

That's just to name a few. This information is not only useful to you as the owner and driver, but also when selling the vehicle.

Many buyers are hesitant to purchase a car that they (and the seller) know little about. In a survey of over 2,000 car owners, almost 50% 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%). This can leave you out of pocket if you're selling the car.

So, what can you do if the vehicle doesn't have a servicing log book? Here's a breakdown of what a full service history entails and how to dig up one for your car:

What Is Full Service History?

In automotive terms, a full service history is sometimes written as "FSH" or known as a servicing log book. It shows that the car has been serviced either every year or every 12,000 miles, and it details any maintenance, repairs, or replacements that were involved in this servicing. This may include:

  • Tyre changes
  • Brake pad replacements
  • Oil or other fluid changes
  • More serious repairs, such as a cambelt replacement or engine repair

This servicing should be completed by the manufacturer of the vehicle or at an approved service centre. The history should also include any invoices and paperwork from the repair centre, as well as the service book itself, 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 only has a partial service history.

Do I Need A Full Service History For My Car?

A full service history is very desirable, as it shows that the car has been well cared for and maintained appropriately. If you're purchasing a car, you should ask to see the service history to determine that the vehicle's condition truly matches what the seller claims.

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. Many buyers are willing to take cars that need work, but deceitful tactics drive away prospects.

Of course, a vehicle that lacks an FSH isn't automatically a bad car. It simply means that you are taking the car at face value, without understanding its history, possible flaws, or its true projected lifespan.

How Can I Find The Service History Of My Car?

If a car lacks a servicing log book, it can be difficult to hunt down this record. That's especially true if you don't know the previous owners or which repair centre the car has visited.

Even still, there are ways to find it. Whether you're the original owner who has misplaced the record or you're a new buyer trying to learn more about your car, try these steps:

Contact A Previous Service Centre

If you know the auto centre the car has visited, or you can obtain this information from the seller, then getting a new servicing log book is easy. Get in contact with the garage and ask for their records on the vehicle's history. This will be available in their database, either on paper or via a computer system.

They can then supply you with any missing documents. You will need to prove that you are the owner of the vehicle, however. They may request to see your V5C, which is the car's registration information. As the original owner or a second-hand buyer, this should be in your possession.

Reach Out To The DVLA

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) will have information regarding the car's previous owners. You can use this to get in contact with them and ask questions about the vehicle's history. That's particularly helpful if the seller you interacted with is not the original owner and is also unaware of the vehicle's full history.

Start by filling out a V888 form on the DVLA's website. This allows you to request specific 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 within the form. You will need to verify your reasons for contacting the previous owners and confirm that you are the new owner.

Previous or original owners will not always have the paperwork needed to confirm the vehicle's history, but you may be able to gain verbal information about:

  • Any servicing the car has received while in their care
  • The auto centres the car visited, which you can then contact separately

Just note: depending on the circumstances, the DVLA may choose not to provide you with the information you request. Likewise, previous owners may not wish to help you, which is their prerogative.

Contact The Manufacturer Or Dealership

Using information gained from the previous two methods, or by consulting the owner's manual, you may be able to narrow down where your car was manufactured or originally sold by a dealership. If that's determined, you can:

  • Reach out to the dealership or manufacturer
  • Provide the registration and licensing information for the car (to verify who you are and the exact vehicle in question)
  • Request any data they have on the vehicle

They may not have a complete servicing history, but they can confirm certain details or provide you with whatever information they do have. If that doesn't encapsulate everything you need, it may at least point you in the right direction to continue your search.

How To Check If The Service History Is Legitimate

When purchasing a second-hand car, you must be careful that the FSH hasn't been forged. It's a crime that has increased in 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. You should call them to double check that the service history is correct.

Then, check the repair centres listed in the stamp book to ensure they exist and are legitimate. You can even reach out to verify that the garages did, indeed, work on the car and complete the work listed in the book.

Finally, ask for proof of paperwork and receipts, instead of just looking at the service book. This additional paperwork is harder to forge, and disreputable sellers are less likely to make the effort. As a bonus, the receipts will show:

  • The dates the work was complete (helping further investigations)
  • That the owner paid for the work carried out

Once you have this service history, and can verify that it's truthful, you can then purchase the car with peace of mind. As a seller, it also allows you to market the car ethically and earn a fair profit from selling it on.