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How to Find Service Records on an Auto

by Michael Roennevig

If you have bought or are about to buy a used car, it's in your interests to find out as much about the vehicle's history as you can. It's impossible to be completely sure of what you're paying for when you buy a second hand car, but if you can piece together as much of the car's service history and records as you can, you'll at least know if there's been any serious issues such as a major collision or mileage fraud.

Step 1

Ask the dealership or individual you're buying the car from if they have the service history of the vehicle. Professional dealers should be able to provide you with this as a matter of course. If you're buying the car from an individual seller, ask if they have its manual as this will often contain its records.

Step 2

Contact the manufacturer of the car with the vehicle identification number. You might find this in the corner of the dashboard below the windshield, on the inside panel of one of the doors or on the chassis underneath the hood. Most manufacturers should be able to provide you with the car's records, especially if it's been serviced by their technicians.

Run a Car Fax search. Car Fax works in a similar fashion to a credit reference agency with background information on cars. You'll need the vehicle identification number and it will cost you $34.99, to access the records of one car, as of November 2010. Car Fax has information on all cars and light trucks manufactured after 1981.

Warning

  • Compare the mileage stated on the car's records to that stated on its clock. Mileage fraud is a common problem with used cars.

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