How important is a full service history?

Should you buy a used car without a full service history, or is an FSH absolutely essential?

Just how important is ‘FSH’, or full service history, on a used-car advert these days? Do buyers care any more about how often or regularly a car has been maintained, given that modern cars are so reliable compared to how they were, say, 30 years ago?

Well, actually… yes, buyers do care, and a FSH is a vital thing to have on your advert – or on the advert of a car you’re interested in. According to a survey carried out over in the UK, nearly half of buyers (45 per cent) won’t touch a second-hand car if it doesn’t have a FSH; and cars without the FSH can be worth up to a fifth less than equivalents with a pristine service record.

Interestingly, almost two-fifths (37 per cent) of respondents to a Kwik-Fit survey said an independent service history still wasn’t worth as much, speaking in terms of peace of mind, as a full main dealer service history.

Put simply, the service record of any given car shows that it has been properly maintained throughout its life. Chances are that, if it has been into a dealership for a service, on time every year, then the previous owner(s) would also have ensured its upkeep with any repairs necessary outside of the servicing schedule during their custodianship of the car. That means it should be more reliable, less likely to need extra maintenance going forward and, hey presto, it’s worth more as a used-purchase proposition.

There’s another good reason an FSH is important on newer vehicles – without it, any manufacturer warranty left remaining could possibly be invalidated. Manufacturers will honour warranties on any components that fail on the proviso the car has been maintained and used in a sympathetic manner, so no servicing on a two- to four-year-old machine could mean any future warranty claims will be null and void.

The FSH is so important to the value and desirability of second-hand cars that there are even scams that will now supply sellers with fake service records – so if you’ve got any doubts whatsoever about the maintenance record you’re looking at, call the dealerships involved to check it was serviced when the book claims it was. Almost all garages, apart from a few smaller independents will have their own records of which cars were serviced when, so you can corroborate any evidence you’re looking at with them.

In short, an FSH is vital to the selling of second-hand cars – whether you’re trying to sell your motor or you’re looking to purchase yourself. So make sure you book in for that oil change you’ve been putting off for your car for the last few weeks, eh?