posted 4 years ago

The Real Value Of A Full Service History

Incomplete service history wipes a fifth off the value of a used car

After buying somewhere to live, purchasing a car is probably the second most expensive thing that most of us do.

Investing so much money means that you’ll want to know how that car has been treated and one of the best ways to do that is to check its service history.

All of those reassuring ink stamps in the service history book provide at least some peace of mind that the owner has sought to keep the car in the best possible condition while also satisfying warranty requirements. So much peace of mind in fact, that you’d be prepared to pay more for it.

False Economy

Turn that scenario on its head, with you the seller rather than the buyer, and it quickly becomes apparent that keeping up to date with servicing is one way of ensuring that you’ll get the best possible price when the time comes to trade your vehicle in.

Skipping the odd service can seem like a good way of saving money, but in the long term, it only adds up to false economy.

Nor is having “forgotten” an excuse these days. Sign up to a service like MyMotoring and you’ll get a range of free reminders.

According to research by Kwik-Fit, having an incomplete service history typically reduces a car's value by 19%, which - based on the average sale price of £7,706 in July 2014 - is equivalent to £1,464.

Furthermore, a Kwik-Fit survey shows that 45% of motorists would not “even consider” purchasing a second-hand vehicle without a complete, fully stamped, service history.

Regional variations

The discount expected by those that will invest varies regionally. A driver in London, for example, expects to pay 23% less than for a similar car with a full history. This is followed:

  • South East (20%)
  • North East (19%)
  • North West (19%)
  • West Midlands (19%)
  • Scotland (19%)
  • East of England (18%)
  • Wales (17%)
  • East Midlands (17%)
  • Yorkshire & Humberside (17%)
  • South West (15%).

Roger Griggs, Kwik Fit Communications Director,  says: “Car owners often skip services to save money, but in the long run this can end up being very costly.  Not only does it reduce the vehicle’s value, it also makes the pool of potential buyers much smaller.

“Having a record that shows regular servicing gives prospective buyers confidence that a car has been well maintained, so even if you have one or two missing, frequent servicing is still important.” 

Authenticate Service History

Some sellers try to increase the value of a vehicle by faking its service history. It is easy and cheap to buy a blank service book then falsify the dealership stamps, dates, mileages.

The buyer can authenticate a service book by contacting the garages that (apparently) completed any work. Ask: “did you see this vehicle – on this day – at this mileage?” Further reassurance comes from cross referencing with any accompanying invoices and receipts.

Then there is the other side of the coin. A buyer – who is considering purchasing a vehicle that is lacking its paperwork – might be able to trace its history prior to sale. He/she can then purchase with more confidence but pay the lower “lack of service history” price. 

Let us consider how. I once helped a friend source a second-hand vehicle. He had very little money, and the best car we could find had paperwork that indicated a partial service history. However, it also had the look, feel and badge of a once prized possession. 

We contacted the local garages and established its history was more complete than the paperwork suggested. My friend – after purchase – added value by requesting copies of the invoices.

Sign up to MyMotoring today


I used to be a car dealer new & used. Most vehicles appraised on condition only. No one was interested in service history, how many times has a sales man asked for the history. Half the time he gives a px price without even stepping out of the showroom! ! As long as condition is ok no need for expensive service record. It's nice for the dealer to add extra £000's to price but mainly only advantage. Service history is only paramount on high end vehicles, your Ferrari, roller, lambo etc. Fiat punto, mondeo bread & butter type cars especially over 3 yrs old as long as clean & obviously looked after will always fetch top prices. Its your unkempt cars even if just 6 mths old that will fetch 20% or more below bottom book & end up on joe bloggs automart. So don't worry about what kwikfit say just look after it there will be marginal price difference on trade in.

Modern cars can go over 20,000 miles without a service. The difference between a car driven in stop & go traffic and one driven mostly on the highway is huge, meaning a car with 30,000 between services (or never serviced) may have had less severe use than one "fully serviced". This predilection with full service history seems a particularly British obsession - which is odd since UK drivers do tiny annual mileages compared to Continentals and others. In the USA, it's not uncommon to do 50,000 miles a year (some 80,000) and yet no one particularly cares about service history on the same Audis, VWs, BMWs, Volvos, etc. that are sold in the UK. For me, this is a good way to get excellent deals by beating down the UK price on cars without full service history - knowing full well they are every bit as likely to be reliable (or not) as those without. Funny Brits.

I have always had my BMW's serviced at main dealers and now they offer a 'value service' it gives me even more reason to continue as their prices are competitive with the rest of the market.

Quite agree about Kwik Fit - half price MOT, but loads of extra 'work' that when taken to another garage was found to be unnecessary, and passed MOT without even advisory's! Ok you pay full price for MOT, but it saves a lot of hassle with Kwik Fit. But ok for tyres etc.

Trading standards should put Kwik Fit under the microscope for touting for extra work that's not necessary.

Kwik Fit are not credible company, in my view they are a load of charlatans and you can't take any serious notice of what they say. My mate never had a new car serviced ever, but he kept them in good order and he always got top book price, the trade price all depends on what you are buying, I myself have bought ten brand new cars and I always had my cars expensively serviced at the dealers, and it never did me a bit of good except I never had any bother and the cars ran well, while my mates cars were running like a bag of nails at trade-in time.

I service my car myself but when it comes to needing any jobs doing I take it into my local garage. When I had the MOT renewed this year,one of the rubber boots on the CV joint had split. My garage charged me £35 for the part and fitting.Iv'e also just had my cam belt replaced he charged me £120 for cam kit and fitting.And when he's done the job he washes your car for you.He's always busy he does not rip his customers off. He's as honest as the day is long. As for Kwik-fit they just find problems with your vehicle that don't exist. In other words they are highway robbers. It's a proven fact by BBC TV'S Watch Dog.

I bought a new car 3 years ago, had it serviced by Ford main dealer, last service was appalling, they never even topped up the brake fluid, it was neay empty! I now use a local guy who is really good and does what you ask for half the price, as for what you say, I'd never use quick fit, they buggered up my brakes years ago!

If you want an excellent car service, then I would recommend Halfords Autocentres. Brillant and excellent value for money.

I hear what people say and I can understand why they are prepared to do their own servicing.It comes down to 2 issues, Number one COST and number two ENJOYMENT. But look at it from another angle,a skilled dealer mechanic has experience and very good eye for detail when a part or parts are past their sell by date, ie- Timing belt and associated pulley wheels. If any of these parts fail it will cause major problems to your engine as well as your bank balance which can run into 4 figutes, is it worth it.A reptuable main dealer is honest and thorough on check points and not just after your money like some quick fit service outlets.They will in some area's of skill will not have the experience or equipment to do the repair to a high standard. Straight forward oil change has resulted into a sump leak on the drain plug because a 50p washer was not renewed as practice.A lot of people think main dealer services is costlier than Joe Bloggs in the high street,far from true.Quiet a few will price match or will haggle.I have a Renault Megane,Timing Belt plus pulleys and Auxillary Belt supplied and fitted by Renault Dealer £299,local garage quoted £325.All old belts and pulley's were in the boot of my car in a original Renault Parts Kit Box.How's that for honesty and service.

I've always done ALL my own servicing & I wouldn't use a dealer. Say you keep a car for 10 years & service it yourself as opposed to a dealer doing the work. How much would you save compared to the depreciation of the vehicle? I do it my self & this way I also know the works been done correctly. As for Quick Fit......... Pah, bunch of apes.

Quick-Fit, you are joking,Grease Monkeys as known in the Trade.Go for a cheap advertised MOT or Service will end up costing more than double compared to main dealer.They'll find something to up your bill.

Personally I would not touch a car if it was serviced by it's owner only. Receipts don't prove anything, could of been parts for mates cars. I've part serviced my own cars in the past ie- oil and filters. But when it comes to timing belts,brake fluid renewal, air con,petrol filter,brake check. Leave it to the experts, well worth the extra coin with full peace of mind.I know which car I would pick with a full service history Main Dealer.

I totally agree with your comments Jon A.The main labour @ Material content on modern cars is the oil @ filter change the rest is a checking list ,most people can carry out themselves ,main dealers overcharge .

Utter BS and just a ply to cough up money to delearships, who in reputable survey after survey are found to be ripping off customers during 'service work' - these days you basically get an oil change and a stamp in your book for £200 plus a recommendation to spend even more money on useless work - save your money - have the first 3 years servicing at your dealership to preserve your warranty and then give your local trusted garage the MOT work, plus throw in an oil change and any filter / plug replacements - all these you can do yourself - very few modern cars need anything else doing other than regular inspections - chucking 1000s at dealerships is throwing good money after bad and very poor value once out of warranty and really only for the non-mechanically minded to obtain peace of mind.

Nice you asked the professionals Kwik-Fit?????????

I always do my own service and always use top quality oils etc generally superior to that used by dealers.. I enter the service details in the book and sign, and keep all relevant paperwork showing the quality products fitted. Never had a problem selling as long as you can show good history and car is cared for

utter rubbish main dealers are not interested when there buying but also seem to stress fsh when selling good excuse tp buy cheap sell high seen many car with fsh but actually knackered wrecks tha may have a full dervice history but driven to within an inch of its life inbetween

This article is total rubbish! Where did they get their figures from? Evidence it and I will believe it. Main Dealers claim the same rubbish about servicing carried out at non franchised dealers like Kwik fit also. None of it stands up. Just keep your car serviced and in good repair then your conscience is clear that you are not ripping anyone off!

Just listen to Kwik-Fit. Only used them twice ,Exhaust on my Transit truck,They put the Gas Axe through the wiring harness then didn.t want to relace it,second time bought a car with 4 new tyres,Firestone. Two of them the sidewalls bubbled after 1200 miles . they did not want to know because the previous owner had put them on so it would pass the MOT. Don't believe a word they say

An unsubstantiated, inflated estimate by, guess who, organisations selling car servicing.

Everything is relative. If you buy a new car and sell after 3 years then with most new vehicles you will have to service it for the warranty and you have lost a packet as soon as you pick it up. However if you buy the vehicle at about 3 years old and then keep it for 7 to 10 years doing all your own servicing and maintenance you will save at least £1500, you will also have the peace of mind the jobs are done properly. Even if you then lose 20% of the sale price it does not add up to £1500. In fact most dealerships won't care about a vehicle of that age, they will trade it on.

do not be conned main agent service history is all its made out to be, often a service carried out by a trusted independent is carried out to a far better standard.

so what their saying is... if i keep a full history of services, up to date... if i where to sell my car in yorkshire i would xpect at least book value.... but without service history it would be reduced by 17 to 20%? ok, so i sold my car (part exchange) to a main dealer for a brand spanking new car... and got 57% of the actual book price for it even though it had 6 years full history stamped in the book & up to date.... so tell me again how to not loose cash to sharks?

The only time I entrust my new car to a garage for servicing is for the first two services in order to maintain the warranty, but even then I thoroughly check it over afterwards. I have picked up on some incredibly bad workmanship over the years, either doing it wrong or not doing it at all. I always put a blob of paint on the sump plug and the filter, then I can tell at a glance whether the service has been done properly, or skimped. Subsequently, I service my cars myself at more than the recommended frequency, and keep all the invoices for the parts and consumables, noting the date and mileage in the service record book, but without any dealer stamp, obviously. If anyone queries that record, I can produce the invoices to support it. No dealers for me, thanks, as a Ford apprentice I can do a better job myself, and save myself money to boot.

I have some 55 years of driving experience in all manner of vehicles, I have owned some 537 cars, from bangers to Bugatti, a service history seems on the surface to be a great benefit, however, are you sure that a "service" has ACTUALLY been completed? Over the years I have experienced a dreadful catalogue of "service cons" .. Cheap "copy" parts being installed (Jaguar) .. Oil change with old filter not touched (Porche) .. Coolant charged for £88 but not changed (Mercedes) and the very worst, .. Gearbox oil drained but not replaced .. Cost .. £700 + total garage denial on cause .. (Ford) .. So .. Rely heavily on all the little "tell tale" signs of your OWN intuition .. Not on that seemingly "accurate" "service history"

totally agree, a properly executed service history to manufacturer specs. is worth a reduction of at least 30% on mileage history imho.