Buyers demand 20% discount on cars without service histories

Mechanic working on car in garageOne of my unbreakable rules when buying a used car is that I won’t buy anything without a full service history.

It’s quite simple: I’m not mechanical expert, but I know that modern cars are generally pretty reliable, if they are serviced correctly.

In my view, buying a car with a full service history is the simplest and most reliable way of reducing my chances of buying a lemon.

It’s not a sure thing — nothing is — but it definitely goes a long way. Owners who have taken the trouble to ensure their cars are serviced correctly and on schedule are also more likely to have looked after them in other ways, too, in my opinion.

So far, this approach has served me well — but until today, I didn’t realise how much of a used car’s value was tied up with its service history.

According to new research from Kiwk Fit, used car buyers expect an average discount of 20% if they buy a car with an incomplete service history.

The study reveals that an incomplete service record on a car could reduce its value by 19%. With the average used car now selling for £7,706, a fully stamped service book could be worth up to £1,464 to each used car seller and around £10 billion to the used car market annually.

Kwik Fit’s study also revealed that for almost half (45%) of all potential buyers — people like me — an incomplete service history is a deal breaker, as they will not even consider purchasing a vehicle without it.

Unsurprisingly, more mechanically-savvy and life-experienced older buyers place more value on a service history than younger drivers, with 57% of older drivers insisting on a ‘FSH’, compared to just 33% of buyers aged 18-24.

Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit, said:

“Car owners often skip services to save money but in the long run, this can end up being very costly. Not only does it reduce the vehicle’s value, it also makes the pool of potential buyers much smaller, making it harder to sell.

“Having a record that shows regular servicing gives prospective buyers confidence that a car has been well maintained, so even if you have one or two missing, frequent servicing is still important.”

Main dealer servicing is a somewhat divisive topic — you either think it’s an expensive rip-off, or an essential way of protecting your car’s value. In my view, I’d always have a car serviced at a main dealer while it’s under warranty, but once the manufacturer’s warranty expires, I’d usually use an independent — as I do currently.

When buying a used car, I’m happy to accept a service history from an independent garage after the first 2/3 years — but Kwik Fit found that only 37% of buyers agreed with this view, with the remainder placing more value on a full main dealer history.

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