How to find your car's service history

If you've bought a used car that didn't come with a full service history you could increase its value by tracking it down...

Service book

You can save money by buying a used car without a full service history. However, doing so also means you won't know whether the car has been properly maintained, and your car will be less desirable when you come to sell it on, so it could be worth less.

That said, there is usually nothing sinister about a car with some missing history. There can be all sorts of legitimate reasons for service books being lost or not stamped, such as them being mislaid during a house move. And the good news is that often those records aren't necessarily lost forever.

Most garages now have computerised files, so if you or a previous owner have lost the service 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

What if you don't know where the work was carried out, though, or the original garage has 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 the dealer and request all the information they have on your car.

With older cars there's a stronger likelihood of them being 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 vehicle, regardless of where it was serviced.

MoT data online

If you're not able to get the entire history from the supplying dealer, it's also quick and easy to see all the MoT data for a particular vehicle online by visiting the DVLA MoT history website – all you need to do is enter the car's registration number.

1. Check its service history

You can also find out where MoT tests were carried out if you enter the 11-digit V5C number from the car's logbook. This will enable you to contact the garage and ask for details of any work they may have done to the car. 

The DLVA website also lets you check when a car's road tax and MoT expire and whether it has any outstanding safety recalls. 

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

Read more What Car? used car buying advice articles >>