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How important is a used car’s service history?

Purchasing a used car can be risky. Luckily, there are a number of precautions you can take and checks you can run to minimise that risk and ensure that the car you’re buying is in good shape.

One of the most essential things to check is service history. The car should have a record of visits to a garage every 6-12 months to be checked over by a qualified mechanic.

Why is service history so important when buying used?

If you don’t have a record of service history, you risk buying a used car that hasn’t been checked in years. You won’t know when the oil was last changed, when the tyres were last rotated, or when the battery and brakes were last checked.

You also won’t know when more costly work was carried out. For example, many cars have a timing belt in their engines that must be changed every 100,000 or so miles. If you don’t have a service history, you’ll have no idea whether this has been replaced, and if you drive with a worn belt, it could snap and cause serious damage to the engine, costing you thousands of dollars.

What’s more, a full service history shows that the previous owner of the car cared and was organised when it came to looking after their car. While that’s not a guarantee that the vehicle is in top condition, it’s certainly a good sign.

What if the car I want doesn’t have a service history?

There are great used cars that don’t have service histories. The owners may have serviced the car without recording it, serviced it themselves or not serviced the car and been lucky enough not to cause damage.

Either way, if you’ve got your heart set on buying one, it’s important that you take a few precautions:

  • Look around to see if you can find the same or similar car with a service history.
  • Speak to the car’s owner and find out if they got the car serviced, and if so, where. Contact their garage as they might have a service history on file.
  • If you can’t find a similar car or the car’s service records, then at the very least you need to have a mechanic perform a thorough pre-purchase check of the car. That way if you find any issues that need repairing, you can either avoid the car completely or use them to bargain down the purchase price to include the cost of fixing those issues.

It’s always best to buy a car with a full service history. It gives you peace of mind knowing that you’re unlikely to run into any nasty surprises or unexpected costs in the future.

Are you ready to buy a used car now? Drop into your nearest Nicholson Auto dealership today and have a chat with one of our friendly experts. All our cars have been checked thoroughly by a qualified mechanic so you’ll know exactly what you’re buying.


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