Full service history – is it important when buying a used car?

If you’ve ever spent any time perusing used car adverts, you will have come across the phrase ‘full service history’ (which is often abbreviated to FSH). It’s listed as a noteworthy attribute to a car, whether it is a Toyota or another make, because not having one can lower the value of a used car.

So why is a full service history so important?

Well maintained

A car’s service history can tell you a lot about a car (and its previous owners – but that’s another article entirely).

Look for stamps in the service booklet

A well-maintained vehicle, for example, will have a service history with lots of entries and stamps in the booklet (which is usually found in the same wallet as the car’s handbook), showing when and how regularly the car has been serviced at a garage or dealership.

Full service history

These days service histories can be stored online so might be on print-outs rather than entered in the booklet, but the most important thing is that the evidence exists to support the vendor’s claims about the car’s provenance.

Franchised dealers

Stamps in the service history booklet that come from franchised dealers for the car brand are considered more valuable than those from independent workshops. The presence of these stamps means the car has been serviced by technicians who have been trained to work specifically on that make of car, while any replacement parts will also be official and manufacturer approved.

A franchised dealer can perform important updates

The other major benefit of having a car serviced by a franchised dealer is that car manufacturers such as Toyota regularly issue software and firmware updates to the car, so a franchised dealer can perform these important (and very necessary) updates when the car is in for its regular service.

The stamps show that the car has been serviced according to the schedule laid down by the manufacturer. This usually stipulates a mileage limit – commonly something like 10,000 or 12,000 miles – or a time limit, such as every 12 months, whichever comes first.

Independent mechanics

Entries in a service history from an independent mechanic shouldn’t be dismissed, however. The vast majority of independent mechanics are thoroughly competent and proof that a used car has been regularly serviced by one (or more) is definitely better than no evidence that the car has been serviced at all.

Any evidence of money that has been spent on the car, in the form of receipts, is also useful. The most common entries will be for events such as oil changes, the replacement of cam belts, or brake parts, which are the kind of parts that tend to wear and will help prevent a car from breaking down between services.


A full service history instils confidence that the car is up to standard and running in the way it should. An owner can be confident that the car has been mechanically checked when the manufacturer recommends it should be.

In addition, anyone buying the car as used can be confident that the car has been maintained in the optimal way throughout its life to date, with the proof easy to see.


The existence of a full service history can increase the value of a vehicle by as much as a quarter, in some cases, while 10% is considered the norm. Not having one will make a car harder to sell, with almost a half of all used-car buyers ignoring any car that doesn’t have this form of documentation.

Have you joined the Toyota 5+ Club? 

This is important when you consider the cost of servicing, which is often cited as a reason why owners don’t stick to the manufacturer’s recommended schedule. However, being deterred by franchised dealer bills is a false economy, in the context of a car’s value. Saving a few hundred pounds by not having a regular service can be more than offset when the time comes to sell the car.

The buyer will want to see a full service history

The buyer will want to see a full service history and, if it’s incomplete or non-existent, the amount that the seller will be able to receive will plummet, with the owner losing more than they would have spent on regular servicing. Some owners might wish to consider a personalised service plan, which can make servicing costs easier to manage by replacing the one-off bill with monthly payments. Click here to read more about service plans offered by Toyota.

How can Toyota help?

Your local Toyota dealer can arrange regular servicing and MOTs, all using the right parts and offering free Visual Health Checks. They will also make you a promise: if you can find a lower price for a service using genuine parts, they will match any like-for-like written or e-mailed quotation within a 10-mile radius of your local Toyota dealer. For more details, click here.


  1. I’ totally agree that a service history is vital when buying any ‘pre-owned’ car. Shame that several Toyota dealers were selling second hand cars with no history what-so-ever back in December 2018. (When I changed my car.)

    1. Hi Andrew,
      Thanks for getting in touch. We’re sorry to hear that you are unhappy with your dealer experience.
      If there’s anything that we can help with or that you would like to discuss further, our customer relations team can be contacted, here: https://www.toyota.co.uk/help-centre/email-us
      They are best placed to explore your situation in detail and provide any necessary support.

  2. Hi, I’ve just purchased a 2014 GT86 from a Toyota franchised dealer. Going forwards I wish to maintain main dealer servicing of. The link to register for the Toyota 5+ Club would not appear to work; do I need to register for this?

    1. Hi Paul,
      Thanks for your comment, and congratulations on your new car!
      The Toyota 5+ Club has been discontinued due to low customer take up.
      However, you can check out our new Relax warranty, which gives Toyota owners 12 months/10,000 miles’ cover for their vehicle each time they have it serviced at an official Toyota centre until the vehicle reaches 10 years or has covered 100,000 miles: https://mag.toyota.co.uk/toyota-warranty-how-it-works/.

      1. Thank you I’m delighted with it.
        Ok, that’s really useful to know, thanks again.

  3. Hi, I am about to purchase a 69 plate Corolla hybrid estate (registered December 2019) from a franchised dealer. It has done 3700 miles. It will be serviced by the dealer when I purchase, but should the car have had a service already (i.e. to maintain the FSH)? I can’t any service history.


    1. Hi Jim,

      The Corolla should be serviced every 12 months or 10,000 miles, whichever comes first. So, it should have been serviced in December 2020.


    1. Hi Stephen,
      Your Toyota Centre will be able to look into this for you, as they will need to verify proof of ownership.
      We hope this helps.

  4. I am looking to buy a used and and would like to check the history of the car. Is there any way i can get the service history of the vehicle before buying?

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Sujith,
      Thanks for your comment.
      We would recommend contacting the seller of the vehicle for more information.

  5. I bought a Toyota Yaris 2017 bio-tone from Steven Eagell Toyota Watford back in Feb 2019 as an approved used. Although there were some issues including few dents, a hole in the interior, a loose bumper etc (Some which I didn’t notice at that time) but I was never told the car had been involved in an accident and was repaired previously.
    I never owned a new or approved used car from Toyota before and had no idea.
    It was all revealed when my car was hit while parked at night on December 21. I was told the car has been repaired before.
    I made many calls to Toyota Watford, sent an email to the person who sold me the car, rang Toyota customer service. Every time I was assured someone from Toyota Watford will call me back but never have I ever received any call or reply via email. I just lost interest on Toyota

      1. Hi Could you advise in buying a Toyota approved used car with service history indicating ‘repair’??

      2. Hi Manoj,
        All Toyota Approved Used cars are inspected by our technicians and pass a comprehensive 145 point technical check.
        This helps to ensure quality and reliability.

  6. I completely agree with the article’s emphasis on the importance of a full service history for Toyota owners. It not only provides peace of mind but also supports warranty claims and lowers insurance rates. In addition, I would recommend considering a vehicle service history check with The auto experts. They can thoroughly inspect the records, ensuring accuracy and identifying any potential issues. Prioritizing regular servicing, documentation, and seeking guidance from auto experts will help maintain your Toyota’s value and reliability.

  7. I have on year missing on my cars full service history (Toyota CHR) I plan on re-selling this in the next month or so back to Toyota. I won’t be able to get the final years service done but it has a full service history since 2015 except this one year. How much value would this likely reduce it by?

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