Vetting vehicle service history

Uncover the history of a used car


As car maintenance is such an important part of a reliable vehicle CarVeto suggest that you only consider buying a car that has a full, documented service record. The history of a car includes:

  • Stamped service books with clear detail on the parts that were replaced with dates and mileage
  • Workshop invoices that inventory parts, labour, dates and mileage
  • Other records kept by the owner (s)
  • CarVeto – run a free check with an instant report


If you were planning to buy a Ford Galaxy the chances are there would be dozens or even hundreds to choose from within the 100-mile radius of your home.

Should you check out a Ford Galaxy that has a part or sparse service history, or perhaps none, it is best practice to walk away from the car.

The consequences of spending hard earned money on a used car that has not been serviced can be disastrous.

Oil, filters, brakes, belts and other working, serviceable items must be replaced at some stage before they start to cause mechanical problems that lead to failure and an unroadworthy car.

Fake service history

A pervasive problem in both private and dealer selling. A forged service history is incredibly easy to make so all car buyers need to beware.

Falsifying maintenance records can help increase car value, that’s why it’s done. To avoid deceit, look over some tail-tail signs of a fake history:


  1. Modern cars (especially 3 years old or under) have service records held on a central database. Manufacturers usually need to service the car to keep the manufacturer’s warranty valid. The maintenance work is recorded on the database along with the detail of the work, parts, labour, mileage, dates and associated costs. Call the manufacturers and ask if they have serviced the car. They may not disclose specifics but can at least let you know if work has been carried out.
  2. Ink fades over time so the first few services a car has received will probably diminish in the service book.
  3. Look over the workshops that have serviced the car. Fraudsters can easily order their own service stamps and fill in the existing or new service book themselves. Some will even make up garages, names, addresses and phone numbers to deceive. A good first step is to see if the garages exist.
  4. Look for more than just a service book. Are there receipts or invoices for past work? Almost all cars will carry some old receipts.
  5. Do the service records correlate with where the car owner lives? It is unlikely that the owner lives in Exmouth and the car was serviced in Hull (although the car may have had varying owners from across the country).
  6. Check the handwriting within the service book. Does it match the sellers?
  7. Buy a CarVeto and gather the MOT history information it provides. You can easily see who has MOT’d the vehicle. Perhaps they serviced it as well?


Important questions

  • When was the car last serviced?
  • Was it a minor service or a major one?
  • What are the service schedules for the car?
  • Was the service carried out at a supplying dealer, local garage or by the owner?


Many modern cars now live under a long-life servicing schedule. This means every 18,000 or 24,000 miles or 2 years (depending on the manufacturer).

Get this information before checking the service book then compare the schedule to the records and look for correlation.

Are there periods when the car was not serviced?

If your potential Ford Galaxy was displaying 43,000 but had only one service, it may be a warning sign that the car shouldn’t be bought. That’s not a definitive answer but a nice way to gauge a possible, worthwhile investment.

In situations where service schedules have been missed, it is important to take an overview of the car.

Good things to consider here include:

  • Is the car in good general condition?
  • Has the car recently been serviced and MOT’d?
  • Is the car priced competitively?
  • Does the engine seem good? Check engine noise from cold and warm as the sound may vary significantly



Telephone two workshops repair centres

Our next recommended step is to gather the details of at least two workshops who have claimed to have serviced and/or MOT’s the vehicle since it was new.

Call each workshop, provide the VRM (vehicle registration number) and ask if they have carried out any maintenance or repair work on the car?

It is better to let the garage tell you what, when and how much it cost rather than asking if they really did repair or replace a, b or c. Hope this makes good sense.

Does the information shared by the car workshop correlate with the service records in front of you?


Using a free CarVeto

Part of our recommended car buying process is to run your own CarVeto. It provides you with vital background information on outstanding finance, mileage discrepancies, theft, insurance category damage/repair and much more.

Our free check gives you some good, basic data but our Platinum check reveals extensive information to support a worthwhile car purchase.


The team at CarVeto.