How to spot fake service history

Service history, is the record of a vehicles maintenance. Service history is very important, not only for the health of the car, also the value of the car.

Each manufacture states, what time and distance their vehicles can go, before they need a service.

For example, let’s say it states it needs a service every year / 12,000 mile (whichever comes first). For the vehicle to remain healthy, it needs that required service, failure to do so could result with mechanical faults.

A car without any service history is worth a lot less, than one with, as it has not been maintained to the manufactures schedule. Cars without any regular services are more likely to have problems, than ones with regular servicing.

Think of car serving like brushing your teeth, the more you brush, the less likely you are to get tooth decay, the less you brush vice versa.

When cars, don’t have any history, what some dealers and private sellers do is fake it. The reason why they do this, is to make their car more desirable and valuable. Faking service history is illegal and car manufactures, over the years have spent millions of pounds to prevent this.

How to spot fake history, you first have to understand how history is recorded.

  • Service book – this is a book that goes with the vehicle and every time it has a service, it has a stamp, from the garage that carried the service out.
  • Invoice – When a vehicle gets a service from a garage, the stamp will have a corresponding invoice, that states the date, registration, millage and cost.
  • National data base – Most manufactures have a data base, that any franchise of the brand can check the recorded service history of the vehicle, from the number plate or vin number.
  • Car’s computer – A lot of newer cars have on board computers that record the service history, one brand that has been pioneering this since 2014 is BMW. This system will also tell you what franchise of BMW, has serviced the vehicle, making it borderline impossible to fake BMW service history.
bmw service history

BMW’s idrive, service history.


How to check service history  

Manufacture history, this is a lot harder to fake, for example you would need a brand stamp for the service book, fake their invoices and you will never be able to fake it, on their national data base.

To check if this history is legit, simply call up the brand, give them the registration or the vin number of the vehicle and the service department, will check the data base for you. This will cost you nothing to do.

The one flaw with this, as most car buyers, look at vehicles on the weekend. Most service departments, do half days on Saturday and are closed on Sundays. The way around this, is to call the brand, before you look at the car on a weekday or don’t buy the car until you have check it.  Please note, that this can only check brand history, if the servicing has been done at a local garage, the manufacture will have no record or knowledge of this.



Local garages, this is a lot easier to fake, due to them not having computer records, or even paper records sometimes. Checking the history with local garages, can often prove difficult, due to no records, or the guy that answers the phone, just can’t be bothered to check.

So here are some tips to help you check the history.

Location, On the logbook, it will state the address’s, of the current / last previous owner, of the vehicle, with the dates they bought the vehicle.

Let’s say the current owner, has had the car for three years and lives in London. The last three services were done in Cornwall. Why would someone drive four hours to get their car serviced? This would ring alarm bells of being fake history, unless the person worked there or had some plausible reason, they could prove. In this instance, it’s always important to ask for corresponding invoices for further proof.

Dates, this is the one where fakers trip up. When fakers, fake history, quite often they don’t due to maths involved for it to pass as legit.

For example, let say the service book states it was serviced at 40K miles on the 01/January 2018. The last MOT on the 07/February 2018, states its millage was 38K, that would mean it’s either been clocked, or fake service. As the difference in the millage is only 2K miles, that wouldn’t be worth clocking, as the cost of clocking would exceed the value of what’s gained, therefore its more likely to be fake history.

For more information on clocking visit our HPI explained page.

Check the garage, this is easy and simple to do, the stamp or invoice will state what garage serviced the car. Type to garage name on a search engine and simply see if it exists. Quite often, fake service is a garage that simply does not exist. If you can’t find the garage on a search engine or companies house, then it’s almost certain to be fake. Fake garages, will often not have a phone number or address on the stamp, if they don’t have either of these, then it’s most likely to be fake, as the faker does not want you to locate / call the garage.

Over the years, I have encountered, many dealers and some private sellers, fake service history, to make their car more valuable and desirable. If you follow the tips and this page, you should be able to protect yourself, from buying a car with fake history.