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A mechanic in grey overalls works under the bonnet of a van

What is a car’s digital service record?

When you buy a modern car, you don’t always get a satisfyingly thick wad of papers, manuals and service history books like you used to. Keep reading to find out what a digital service history is and how to access it.

Gone are the days when you can expect a service history book with your new or used car. Most modern cars record their service histories electronically after each service, rather than getting a stamp in a book that you keep in your glove box. 

What is a digital service record?

It’s an online record of the maintenance work your car’s had done to it. It’s usually stored in your car manufacturer’s secure online database, and it’s only directly accessible by official dealers and workshops, although you can usually request printouts of previous work. It replaces the old-style paper service book that you’d have stamped each time you had your car serviced.

What cars have a digital service history?

Most modern cars have a digital service record. You can expect your car to have a digital service history if it’s made by Audi, BMW, Dacia, Ford, Honda, Isuzu, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, Maserati, Maxus, Mazda, Mercedes, MG, Mini, Polestar, Porsche, Renault (2021 and later models), SEAT, Skoda, Smart, Subaru, Tesla and Volkswagen.

Renault models registered before 1 March 2021 will have a space in the back of the handbook for service stamps.

How do I get my digital service history?

If your car’s been serviced by an official franchised dealer then the easiest way to see your car’s digital service history is by getting in touch with your car’s manufacturer, or an official dealer for your car. They will usually need your car’s registration number and VIN (vehicle identification number), which you can find at the base of your windscreen on the outside.

This service history will usually include the time and date of the work carried out, details of the work and sometimes the cost. 

Some manufacturers such as Peugeot will let you check your car’s service history using a smartphone app – though this usually needs to be activated at a main dealer before you can use it.

It’s a bit trickier if your car’s been serviced by an independent garage – you’ll need to contact each garage that’s worked on your car. They’ll usually still have digital copies of service invoices for your car, but it does mean getting in touch with each garage in turn if your car’s been worked on by several garages.

Some cars such as modern BMWs actually carry their digital service history within their infotainment systems, so you can check it out yourself.

Can independent garages update my car’s digital service history?

Yes, so long as the garage is registered with the Independent Garage Association (IGA). This association allows independent garages to upload service information to most manufacturers’ central databases.

It’s not always straightforward for garages to do this because each manufacturer uses a different system for storing service history. You can check which garage near you is a member of the IGA to find out more.

Can I update my car’s digital service history myself?

No – official manufacturer online databases can only be accessed by registered garages. If you get your car serviced at a garage that can’t update your digital service record then you’re best off just keeping all the service paperwork along with your car’s other documents. If you’ve serviced your car yourself, just keep receipts for parts and a note of what work you’ve done and the mileage you did it at. 

Stuck choosing your next car?

Now you know all about checking the service history of a car, perhaps it's time to check out your next set of wheels? Check out our list of the best cars under £300 per month (we update it every month with the latest deals), or have a look at our favourite family SUVs and crossovers.