Just How Valuable is a Full Service History?

Rubber stamp; €2. Ink pad; €3. Service book; €5.99. Value of a full service history? Well, at the risk of offending Mastercard, probably not priceless but it’s certainly worth an awful lot more than you might think.
For generations, we Irish drivers have not, historically, taken very good care of our cars. Partly, that was down to the poor conditions of our roads, shaking and wobbling every bolt and every component. But there’s an equal part that seems to be locked deep within our DNA that we just don’t like spending money on our cars, at least not after we have bought them. Servicing, maintenance, even such things as a new set of tyres – we, as a nation, just seem to skimp on them.
We already know that it’s a false economy. After all, you only have to look at a catalogue of spare parts to know that fixing something after it's gone wrong is far more pricey than preventing it going wrong in the first place. But, lulled by the modern myth that cars are so much more reliable now, many of us are willing to gamble on at least stretching our service intervals out a little longer, or in some cases ignoring them altogether.
But whether or not you manage to dodge the bullet of an open bonnet and a cloud of steam on the hard shoulder, not keeping up with your service schedule is costing you anyway, and it could be costing you a significant proportion of the trade in value of your car.
To get the inside track from those in the know, we spoke to a selection of Motorcheck trade customers representing a broad spectrum of Ireland's leading franchise and independent dealers. Included below is a selection of their comments highlighting just how important a service history is to maintain.

A Service History could be worth as much as €500

Dave Finn
Dave Finn
Without doubt for a car being traded in, a service history is a massive thing. It’s all about peace of mind, both for us and for the next customer. It’s about removing doubt. A car with around 80-90,000km on the clock should have had three, possibly four services by now. If it hasn’t had them all, then that tells us something about how the car has been looked after"

Dave Finn, Finglas Ford

But what about a value? That’s a harder thing to put a solid number on, but Dave and Gary both estimate that, all things being equal, on a three-to-four year old Focus hatchback, the gap in value between a car with a full history and a patchy one could be at least €500, and possibly more.

Gary Mooney
Gary Mooney
Invariably, maximum value is what we are trying to achieve. The maximum value on the vehicle both for us and for the customer trading in, so the service history is something we look at on a constant basis. It’s all about the doubt factor – how has the car been looked after, do you know the previous owner, that kind of thing. If it’s there, then it gives us great confidence when selling that car on to a new customer.”

Gary Mooney, Finglas Ford

It also varies from brand to brand, and model to model. If, say, a car from a well-known Japanese or Korean brand had a patchy service record, that may give slightly less concern than the same history on a European car. And as for a premium or luxury model, well, if the service book isn’t stamped up then you can probably forget any hope of selling it or trading it in at any decent price – the levels of complication in terms of electronics and the ever-finer margins in terms of raw engineering make it essential to have a properly carried out service history, especially if the badge is a desirable one and the car complex.
Mark Mooney at Mooney's garage on the Long Mile Road agrees and says that original receipts can be a great help too.

Mark Mooney
Mark Mooney
A service History is an extremely valuable piece of information, not only when trading your car in, but also when it comes to the sale of the car from a dealers point of view. I would certainly go the extra mile if I was presented a stamped service book along with the original owners manual spare keys etc.

A customer expects a certain level of car when they buy from Mooney's, So with this I mind, we have a policy of supplying a service history with every vehicle sold. In my opinion it is better to keep all receipts that are relevant to your own car. These can hold the key to getting a far better deal when you decide to trade it in."

Mark Mooney, Mooneys

Wexford Car Centre
Wexford Car Centre
A full service history is extremely important when assessing the value of a used car. I always will pay extra for a car with a service history. It makes it easier to resell as it shows the next owner that the car has been cared for by its previous owner. It typically adds between 200 to 400 extra value depending on the extent and detail of the history. This is for a couple of reasons;

  • The importance of Knowing that the car has been maintained
  • Reconditioning costs are normally lower on these cars
  • This customer is more likely to keep their new purchase serviced with us
  • When someone purchases a car with a full history they normally will keep up the service

The things that we look for when examining a service book include dates and mileage at the correct intervals and signed by technician. Main dealer or SIMI stamp. Brief description of work completed. Receipts and VHC reports are a great addition."

Thomas MacDonald, Wexford Car Centre

Declan Gill
Declan Gill
A service history on a car is worth its weight in gold. In my experience the majority of English cars come with a full service history and it begs the question why mechanics in Ireland don't routinely stamp the book?

When selling a car the service history is what gets the car across the line. You might have a nervous customer that has had (or heard of) a previous bad experience buying a used car. Being able to show a full service history with the correct mileage recorded and the stamp from the garage that serviced it offers valuable peace of mind.

I've always found that cars with a full service history sell quicker and realize stronger values over the course of their life."

Declan Gill, Declan Gill Motors

Cavanagh's of Charleville
Cavanaghs of Charleville
From our standpoint, a full service history with a main dealer is becoming more and more important. Naturally, being a main dealer we would say that but what we have found in recent years is that the benefits of having your service carried out by a main dealer now make this argument redundant.

Benefits include: continuous checking of your vehicle for any outstanding recalls or software updates. This means you get everything that you are entitled to and your car is maintained pro-actively rather than re-actively (which could see the owner broken down by the side of the road).

Secondly, by having a traceable service history with a main dealer, the manufacturer is more likely to look favorably on any disputable warranty claims that may arise - and though all manufacturers try to keep this area black and white, inevitably grey areas do arise from time to time.

Thirdly, main dealers are obviously far more conversant with the typical issues that arise with cars which they fix from week to week. For the consumer, this means that a non-main dealer or independent car repair outfit may spend upwards of 3-4 hours to diagnose and fix a problem that may only take 1 hour in a main dealer that is aware of the issue. These are called "known issues" and they are a feature of every repair business.

Which leads us onto the final point - diagnostics. We have several laptops on-site which are dedicated to diagnostic work. These laptops are updated with numerous updates on a daily basis. If it takes that much to stay on top of issues within a franchise, then you can imagine how difficult it is for a company operating outside the Franchise network to keep on top of this information - and for every make which lots of them claim. Simply put, they cannot. And anyone that tells you they have access to completely up-to-date diagnostic capabilities are not being 100% truthful."

Hugh Sheehy, Cavanaghs of Charleville

In the UK, the numbers are even higher. Kwik Fit carried out a recent survey into the value of a service history and found that it could potentially account for as much as a quarter of the value of an average used car, priced at £5,500.

It's accepted that a fully stamped service book will increase the re-sale value of a car but this research has been able to put a figure on it: £1,500 is a significant number and makes a big difference to the value of a car when an owner comes to sell. For a more expensive car 26% will equate to a very big number indeed. Motorists with one or two stamps missing should bear in mind that some services will still carry a premium over none at all, particularly if they've been carried out more recently.

It's not just about the end value though, motorists who get their car serviced according to the manufacturer's recommendations will be rewarded with greater efficiency, better performance and lower on-going running costs.

The research also highlights that the gap between the perceived benefit of a dealer over an independent servicing centre is closing. Drivers don’t need to pay main dealer prices to maintain their car’s peak value. They can come to Kwik Fit, and we'll put a stamp in their book which could be worth hundreds of pounds."

David White,Customer Services Director, Kwik Fit

Of course, it’s much easier now. Most, if not all, car makers now offer inclusive service programmes, which you can simply tick the box for at the time of purchase. At the cost of a few hundred Euro, it means all your standard servicing (excluding things like tyres and brake pads, normally) is covered for the first two to three years of ownership, and that can be passed on to the next owner.
So, no more excuses folks. Check the schedule and get your car in for its service on time, every time. That little rubber stamp is worth way more than you thought.
Want to make sure your next purchase has a solid history and a current NCT? Then make sure you check it with Motorcheck.ie.