Car Advice

How to find a car’s service history

This is one for those buying a used car that may have a missing or incomplete logbook, so, here’s how to find a car’s service history.

Depending on the age of your vehicle and how many owners it’s had there’s a fair chance the logbook might be missing or only partly completed, or, it could be so old that the logbook has been filled and that there’s just a pile of receipts for the last few years of services, or maybe even nothing at all.

Sometimes car owners will sell their vehicle for less money if it’s service history isn’t complete or a buyer may haggle down the price. This means any subsequent sale of the vehicle will make less, and so on.

But a missing or incomplete logbook isn’t the end of the world, although in Australia it’s harder and more expensive to piece together a vehicle’s history than it is in other countries around the world. For instance, in the UK, the MOT website allows owners to check on the registration and maintenance history of a vehicle for free.

Comprehensive Car Insurance

There is no such service in Australia.

One thing you can do, is, if the person you’re buying the car off remembers where it’s been serviced, you can always contact that mechanic and ask for a history of the work they’ve performed on the vehicle. You can also reach out to the car maker and supply them with your vehicle’s VIN… they should be able to advise which dealer originally sold the vehicle. It’s all about building up a picture.

But after that you’re required, in this country, to outlay cash to learn more about your vehicle. It seems a bit grubby that the Government charges for and has allowed third-parties to hold service history information and charge owners to access it.

Here in NSW, Service NSW charges around $22 (at the time of writing) for a comprehensive history of the vehicle, including previous owners, service history, whether there’s unpaid finance on it, and more. It also offers a free service but this does nothing more than tell you if the vehicle’s registered.

Owners can perform a REVs check which costs around $30 and lists if there’s any finance owing on the vehicle, insurance claims, and more. Check my Rego is another source of information but it doesn’t publicise costs of its two services, and is potentially not as complete as the history you’re likely to get from, say, Service NSW and its equivalents in other States and Territories.

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober was born in the shadow of Mount Panorama in Bathurst and, so, it was inevitable he’d fall into work as a motoring writer. He began his motoring career in 2000 reviewing commercial vehicles, before becoming editor of Caravan & Motorhome magazine. He then moved to MOTOR Magazine before going freelance and contributing to Overlander 4WD, 4×4 Australia, TopGear Australia, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, The Australian, CARSguide, and many more.