Cars are expensive assets, so it only makes sense that we should keep documents that pertain to its history and its value. Service records are an important part of your car’s history, so it’s important to keep these records organized. So what exactly are service records and will they increase your car’s resale value?
Here’s what you need to know about car service records and how they can affect your car’s resale value.
What are service records?
Car service records are similar to a person’s medical records. They give a history of your car’s “health” per se. Service records typically document the following:
- Information on previous owners. This may include the zip code of where the owners lived, which may give you an idea of how the car was used. If your car was in a city, you know that the miles are city miles. If the car was in the country, you will know that the miles are not stop-and-go.
- Car maintenance records. If the car was taken in for routine maintenance, such as oil changes and tire rotations, there should be a paper trail. If the owner performed their own maintenance, this may not be documented. This will also give the dates of when these services were performed.
- Car repair records. Similarly, this will make note of what repairs were performed on your car. Dates on these records are also important.
Keeping these records will give any future owners some confidence in the car that they are driving. If they can see proof that the car’s oil was changed according to the manufacturer's instructions, they will feel confident that the car they are buying was maintained correctly.
If you bought the car new you have the opportunity to keep great records from the start. You can keep all of the records organized either physically or digitally. If you have maintenance performed at the dealership, they will most likely keep records. But it’s a very good idea to keep them yourself so that you always have access to them.
What are the benefits of keeping service records?
It can help with warranty claims.
If your car is under warranty, service records will help with any claims that you may make. Warranties generally require that routine maintenance is performed for any repairs to be covered. If you are unable to prove that your car has been regularly maintained, you may be out of luck when it comes to having your repairs covered by your warranty.
It can help with insurance claims.
If you get into an accident, proving that your car has been regularly maintained can help you negotiate a higher diminished value. Diminished value is the difference between the car’s value before the accident and the value after. Cars with detailed records and histories tend to have higher resale values (more on the later), so this can help boost an insurance claim to be more accurate and more beneficial to you.
It can remind you that it’s time to get your car serviced.
Service records can also help you to remember when you need to take your car in for maintenance. If you have all of the records organized you can see that the time has come for an oil change or tune up.
It can help a mechanic to pinpoint a problem.
If you have records of the repair history, it may help a mechanic to determine what the problem is. If there are a number of different possible culprits, mechanics can look at the records to see what has already been replaced or repaired. It could also help a mechanic determine if a culprit is actually a mistake that a previous mechanic may have made. The more information you have to give a mechanic, the better chance you have of finding the underlying issue.
Does keeping service records increase resale value?
But of all of the benefits of keeping organized service records, an increased resale value is probably top of the list.
Buying a used car can be nerve-racking. There are so many unknowns as compared to buying a new car. Service records provide more peace of mind for a buyer. Instead of taking someone’s word for it that maintenance was regularly performed and that the car was well taken care of, you have physical proof of that.
Service records do not prove or guarantee that a car will be problem free, but they can show a potential buyer that you are the type of person who takes care of their car and is diligent about keeping records. That can mean a lot to a potential buyer, and that can translate to an increased resale value.
Resale value is dependent on a number of factors. Brand reliability, model popularity, color, and trim level all contribute to the resale value. But the most important factors that you can control post-purchase are the mileage, vehicle history, and the condition of the car. By keeping your service records you can assure the future buyer that the car is in great condition and doesn’t have a shady past without documented maintenance and repairs.
How should you store service records?
You can store your records either physically or digitally, whichever is more natural or easier for you. Ideally you can keep a physical folder as well as a digital folder so that you have back ups of the information. Many people choose to keep their information in the glove box, but this can be a problem if your car is involved in an accident and is taken away. If the records are stored digitally you will always have access to them no matter where your car is.
Are there privacy concerns when keeping service records?
If you are concerned about your privacy, which is a valid concern, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. After all, you don’t necessarily want to show strangers your exact address and contact information.
Go through each document to ensure that your name, full address, phone number, and email address are covered completely. Using a marker or pen may not sufficiently cover your information, so instead get an identity theft protection roller stamp that will ensure your information is fully covered. It is very important to look through all of your documents thoroughly to ensure that you haven’t missed any important information that needs to be covered.
That’s everything you need to know about service records and why they are so important.
If you are looking to sell your car, organizing your service records will help tremendously. If you are looking to buy a used car, asking for service records can give you peace of mind.
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