Does service history impact the value of your car?

    Tune ups are an essential part of car ownership, keeping your vehicle running safely and smoothly. But does a service history affect your car’s worth when you decide to sell

    Yes! Having a record of the services, maintenance, and repairs carried out on your car can significantly influence its value. Having your car’s comprehensive service history can potentially boost your vehicle’s resale value by up to 20%, making it a key consideration for both sellers and buyers in the UK automotive market.

    What is a service history?

    a man with his thumbs up and car bonnet open
    Your car’s service history documents the repairs, replacements, and general maintenance that your vehicle has had over its lifespan.

    In the UK, car service history refers to maintenance and repair records for your vehicle. 

    These can be accessed online or via paper hardcopies and includes dealer stamps indicating servicing, garage invoices for replacements and parts repairs, inspection records, and other associated material providing a chronological overview of your car’s maintenance.

    Trade and private adverts refer to both Full Service History (FSH) and Partial Service History (PSH). An FSH requires a record of all work and servicing carried out to the requirements of the manufacturer. This usually means the work has been carried out by a main dealer for that car brand. 

    Full-service requirements and schedules are different depending on car make and model, with some vehicles requiring servicing every 10,000 miles while others calling for servicing every 18,000. 

    Alternatively, a PSH means that only some of the service documentation for a car exists. When buying a car, missing or partial service history can be a useful way to negotiate a lower price, especially if you can locate this missing information yourself. However, you are also taking on the risk of a car with potential mechanical issues.

    If you’re looking to sell your car, you’ll get a better price with a complete record of maintenance and repairs. A documented service record demonstrates care and upkeep as a car owner and instils confidence in potential buyers. 

    What does car service history include?

    In the UK market, a detailed service history can distinguish your vehicle from others, commanding a higher resale price. 

    A comprehensive service history includes: 

    • Vehicle maintenance records: Paperwork documenting routine garage servicing, including oil changes, fuel and other filter replacements, fluid checks, wheel bearing exams, as well as repairs and replacements. 
    • Receipts: Proof of expenses incurred for parts, labour, and additional services. These include records of repairs conducted under warranty coverage.
    • DVLA and garage inspection reports: Reports from professional inspections highlighting any issues or recommendations.
    • Upgrades or modifications: Documentation of any upgrades or modifications made to the vehicle.

    While your car’s roadworthiness is examined yearly during the MOT test, your MOT certificate and associated reports of car parts issues or failure are separate from your car’s service history. However, this mechanical history still plays an important part in used car valuation

    While much of this maintenance information is stored in your car’s V5C logbook, you can also access service history details online. Typically all you need is to enter the car’s registration number into an online car check service; however, some checks will require the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) as well. It’s also often recorded in the engine bay. 

    Alternatively, you can submit at V888 form to the DVLA to see which dealers previously worked on the car.

    How does service history affect car valuation?

    a grey TROC parked up
    Maintaining a full service history of your vehicle may help you get more money when you choose to sell.

    Used car valuations are largely based on depreciation. While all new cars lose value once they’re driven for the first time, factors including the mileage, condition, and service history all play significant roles in resale pricing.

    Having a comprehensive vehicle service history could potentially increase your resale value by up to 20%. It can also increase your pool of potential customers. According to a Kwik Fit survey of 2,000 car owners, nearly half wouldn’t consider buying a used car without a full service history. 

    Full service history versus missing or partial service history

    Let’s compare selling a car with a full service history versus selling a car with a partial or missing history: 

    Full service historyPartial or missing history
    – Transparency instils confidence in buyers about vehicle’s maintenance and condition
    – Provides evidence of car’s value and asking price
    – Reduces perceived buyer risks
    – Increases buyer pool
    – Could reveal repair or maintenance issues that could deter buyers or affect pricing

    – Limits buyers due to lack of information about vehicle condition or reliability
    – Likely to drive down resale pricing
    – May appeal to buyers who plan to customise or modify the vehicle
    – Could offer sellers leeway in negotiations and attract more budget-conscious buyers or those willing to take on some risk in exchange for a lower price

    Main dealer service history

    someone going through paperwork
    Having repairs solely conducted by your car manufacturer may help with resale pricing.

    Main dealer service history is when car maintenance and repairs are exclusively conducted by authorised dealerships affiliated with your vehicle’s manufacturer. All services adhere to manufacturer guidelines and utilise brand-specific parts, ensuring the highest standard of care for your car. 

    Main dealer service history significantly enhances the value of a car in the resale market. It establishes credibility and trustworthiness by demonstrating meticulous care and adherence to manufacturer recommendations. Potential buyers are more inclined to invest in a vehicle with a documented main dealer service history, as it reflects a commitment to maintaining the car’s condition and performance. 

    Vehicles with main dealer service history often command higher resale prices due to their perceived quality, reliability, and transparency. They stand out in the market, attracting more potential buyers and facilitating quicker sales compared to vehicles with incomplete or inconsistent service records.


    How much does service history affect car value?

    Service history significantly impacts car resale value, often raising prices by 10% to 20%. Buyers prefer well-maintained vehicles with documented records, increasing resale value.

    How can I check my car’s service history?

    If you’ve lost your service records, or your car didn’t come with a paper copy, don’t despair. Manufacturers and dealerships record everything online and, for most models of car, it’s easy for owners to access the information.

    The following car manufacturers allow you to access your service history online:

    While details can be hard to find for some manufacturers, you can usually find information on viewing your service history in the “Owners” section of each manufacturer’s website.

    Is a car worth less without service history?

    Yes, cars without service history typically fetch lower prices. Buyers value maintenance records to assess vehicle reliability and functionality, and may offer less without them.

    Is service history important when selling a car?

    Yes, service history boosts buyer trust and speeds sales. Documented maintenance reassures buyers, making the car more desirable.

    Is it worth having a full service history?

    Absolutely! A full service history enhances resale value and buyer confidence. It demonstrates meticulous vehicle ownership, potentially yielding higher prices when reselling.

    How can I track the value of my car?

    If you’re not sure what your car’s value is to begin with, it’s hard to know how much having  – or missing – its service history might impact the price.

    All vehicles depreciate at varying rates, with no rule of averages accurately describing any one car’s changing value. With Motorway’s Car Value Tracker, you can get a free, reliable monthly price alert for up to six vehicles at once. 

    Follow changes to your car’s value to choose the best time to sell, and make informed choices about investments in your car’s maintenance.

    Ready to sell?

    Need to sell your car, or want to understand more about documentation or maintenance? Check out more of our guides here, covering everything from the paperwork you need when buying and selling, to various notices you may need to file with the UK’s driver and vehicle licensing agency.