Check car service history

Buying a used car? Check the car service history and ensure you're getting a good deal.

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It's highly recommended to check the service history of a used car.

It will tell you if there’s any finance owing on it, whether it’s been reported as stolen, if the odometer might not be accurate and any other dealbreakers you should be aware of before buying.

The used car market is largely buyer beware, meaning you as the buyer take on the responsibility of checking the used car and ensure that everything’s up to scratch.

Read our guide to find out how to check the service history of the car you want to buy and make sure you're not buying a lemon.

How to find a car’s service history

If the car still has finance owing on it, the seller probably shouldn’t be selling it, especially not without letting you know first. This doesn’t mean they won’t try. Checking for outstanding finance through a Register of Encumbered Vehicles (REVS) check is one part of a car history check and looking at its service history is the other.

  • Free REVS check: This only shows whether there is any finance owing on the car. See our step-by-step guide to find out how you can do a free search. If you don’t want to do it yourself, you can pay a nominal fee to have an agency do it for you as part of a full service history check.
  • Free service history check: This will reveal the car’s service history, specifically where it has been repaired and what work has been done. You can check it for free, but this will only show you when a vehicle has been repaired at a National Vehicle Security Register (NVSR) workshop. If it comes up clean, it might simply mean that it’s been repaired elsewhere.

As such, the easiest and most secure option is generally to pay an agency to do a full check for you before buying. Some agencies will charge a one-off fee, while others will offer a car history check, and other services, as part of a subscription package.

What does a car’s service history look like?

A car’s service history can show:

  • REVS check results
  • Whether the car has been listed as stolen
  • Whether the car has been previously written off as a result of damage
  • Whether the odometer reading is accurate, or whether it may have been wound back
  • A log of previous repairs
  • Previous sales history and how many times the car has changed hands

For example, depending on the provider, a service history check might look like this:

DateOdometer readingWork done
15 September 201360,000kmFull inspection, oil changed, tires rotated
1 January 201465,000kmCar registration changed from QLD to NSW
2 January 201465,001kmFull inspection, replaced drive belt

You can also get added services, such as a valuation of the car, included in the car history check. Considering that the vast majority of Australians loathe the idea of haggling for a car, getting the full history is a wise move.

Red flags to look out for

Some things should be considered a deal-breaker, or should at least warrant an enormous price reduction:

  • Has the car been previously written off? This means that it was decided that repairs would cost more than the car is worth. If a car has been previously written off, but is now sitting before you in the hands of a salesman, there’s a good chance it has some invisible damage or very shoddy repairs.
  • Is it stolen? Buying a car from a thief is a good way to get robbed on price.
  • Has the odometer been rolled back? This is near-ironclad proof that the seller is trying to gouge you.
  • Is it poorly maintained? If the car has a poor service history then it’s a long way from good as new.

Finding out a car’s service history can reveal to you the state of the car and its current value. Getting these checks done along with following a used car buying checklist can help ensure you get value for money and help you avoid driving away with a poorly maintained, possibly stolen lemon that’s been trumped up by a shady salesman.

Compare used car loans available below

Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comparison Rate (p.a.) Min Loan Amount Loan Term Application Fee Monthly Service Fee Monthly Repayment - New and Dealer Used Car Loan
3.99% (fixed)
3 to 5 years
You'll receive a fixed rate of 3.99% p.a. based on your risk profile
Finance a new car and benefit from features such as fast approval, no ongoing fees and an optional balloon payment. Settle the loan before 30 November 2021 and enter the draw to win a $1,000 fuel gift voucher. T&Cs apply.
Plenti Car Loan
From 4.89% (fixed)
3 to 7 years
from $249 to $799
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.89% p.a.
Borrow up to $100,000 with a Plenti Car Loan and benefit from no early repayment or exit fees.
Credit Concierge Car Loan
From 2.99% (fixed)
1 to 7 years
You'll receive a fixed rate of 2.99% p.a. with a comparison rate of 4.07% p.a.
Get access to over 20 providers to fund a new or used car.
Alex Bank Car Loan
From 4.99% (fixed)
6 months to 5 years
Waived $295 establishment fee
You'll receive a fixed rate between 4.99% p.a. and 19.99% p.a.
Borrow up to $30,000 for terms between 6 months and 5 years to finance a car. The one-off $295 establishment fee will be waived for loan applications submitted by 3 November 2021. T&Cs apply.
Wisr Secured Car Loan
From 4.74% (fixed)
3 to 7 years
$195 for refinance and dealer sale ($245 for private sale)
You'll receive a personalised interest rate from 4.74% p.a. to 16.01% p.a. based on your risk profile
A flexible car loan from $5,000 - $63,000 with personalised rates and rewards for strong credit customers.

⭐Special Offer: Wisr's standard establishment fee $605 will be reduced to $195 for applications submitted through Finder. T&Cs apply.
NRMA Used Car Loan
From 6.24% (fixed)
1 to 7 years
You'll receive a fixed rate from 6.24% p.a.
Finance a used car with NRMA and benefit from a fixed rate term and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.
Great Southern Bank Fixed Rate Car Loan
6.79% (fixed)
1 to 7 years
$265 ($175 Establishment Fee + $90 Security Administration Fee)
You'll receive a fixed rate of 6.79% p.a.
A secured loan with a high maximum borrowing amount up to $100,000. Redraw facility and no monthly fees.
OurMoneyMarket Car Loan
From 5.35% (fixed)
1 to 7 years
You'll receive a fixed interest rate from 5.35% p.a. to 14.99% p.a. based on your risk profile.
Borrow between $2,001 and $75,000 to finance a new or used car up to 7 years.

Compare up to 4 providers

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Car Loan Offers

Important Information*
Logo for IMB New Car Loan
IMB New Car Loan

You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.88% p.a.
A low minimum borrowing amount of $2,000 that you can use to purchase a new car or one up to two years old.

Logo for Beyond Bank Low Rate Car Loan "Special Offer"
Beyond Bank Low Rate Car Loan "Special Offer"

You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.69% p.a.
Take advantage of a competitive rate, pre-approval and no early repayment fees when you finance a car under two years old.

Logo for RACV New Car Loans
RACV New Car Loans

You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.99% p.a.
A larger loan of $5,000 or more to help you buy a new or used car. 5-hour pre approval available and no ongoing fees.

Logo for NRMA New Car Loan
NRMA New Car Loan

You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.99% p.a.
Purchase a new or used car up to 2 years old and benefit from a fixed rate and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.

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