How to find your car's service history

If you have bought a used car that didn't come with a full service history you might be able to track down some of it, giving you peace of mind and potentially increasing the car's value...

Author Avatar
Claire Evans
21 January 2019

How to find your car's service history

Buying a used car without a full service history can save you money. However, it also means you won't know whether that car has been properly maintained, and that you'll get less for it when you sell it on.

Not that some missing history is automatically sinister. There can be all sorts of legitimate reasons, such as it being lost during a house move. And besides, those records aren't necessarily lost forever.

Most garages now have computerised files, so if you or a previous owner have mislaid the log book and you know where the car was serviced, it shouldn't be too difficult to piece together a missing history.

Merc C-Class in local garage

But what if you don't know where the work was carried out or the original garage as gone out of business?

First, contact the manufacturer and ask them to tell you what they can about your car using the VIN number to identify it (you can find this on your car's door frame or in the engine compartment). They should be able to tell you which dealer originally supplied the vehicle when it was new. You can then approach that dealer and see if they have information on your car.

There is a danger that the car was serviced at more than one garage. But many manufacturers now have centralised records, so if you go into a main dealer they should be able to give you all the service history for that car.

MOT data online

It's also quick and easy to see all the MOT data the DVLA has for a particular vehicle online by visiting its official website - all you need to do is enter the car's registration number. The website also lets you check for outstanding safety recalls and check that the log book isn't for a stolen vehicle. You can also check to see if the car is insured and when its road tax and MOT expire. 

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here


Buy a new car with What Car?

Before you buy, visit What Car?’s new car deals section.

We have discounted deals on most new cars on sale, so you're never far away from finding a new car deal in your area.

It's all based on Target Price, which is the price we think you should pay based on research by our team of mystery shoppers, and the best discounts they can achieve.

If you’re still not sure then our deals team can help; call them on 03302 216207 – lines are open from 8am until 10pm seven days a week.