are service records / vehicle history required when buying 2nd hand??

Submitted: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 14:34
ThreadID: 102222 Views:1833 Replies:6 FollowUps:10
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I was wondering what the general consensus was when buying 2nd; are service books/history required to be made available for the purchaser by the dealer/seller?

I personally feel that the vehicle history is a pretty important factor when buying a car...

Reason I ask is I just withdraw my deposit on a 96 pajero due to the dealer refusing to follow up with the previous owner regarding vehicle history...

The only vehicle history they were willing to supply was in the form of a small notebook with the last 20,000km including fuelling and minor repairs, but it was hand written with no signature and to be quite honest, could easily have been forged by anyone who knew what they were talking about...

What do you all think? Am I being over-cautious?

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Reply By: Bazooka - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 15:43

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 15:43
You're wise to be sceptical and factor that into the price you're prepared to pay but it isn't necessarily indicative of a bad history. As vehicles age some, like me, prefer to do the routine servicing themselves so the service record might be incomplete. However if there are no logbooks or handbooks at all that's sometimes an indicator of commercial/fleet use. Another sign to be wary of is when the underside has been recently sprayed with black resin(?).

I'd be asking them lots more questions such as: Is it a one-owner? Has it been used commercially? Has it been in any accidents? etc. If they can't answer and you don't know whether they have a good reputation, walk away.
AnswerID: 511102

Follow Up By: Keith B2 - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 20:25

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 20:25
Thanks, I walked away for that exact reason... The bloke bought it from another dealer who bought it from a guy who brought it over from WA. As far as I could tell he had it for a little over a year and did 20,000kms on it... but I only learnt that from rego receipts I found in the glove-box and the dealer couldn't be assed basically to find anything else out.

Thanks for the tip on the blac resin, I'll definitely keep that in mind.

FollowupID: 789240

Reply By: rocco2010 - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 16:32

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 16:32
Gee, a 96 Paj? I reckon any 17 year old car needs to be approached with caution, service records or not. There are things that could break the next pothole it hits that might have nothing to do with a service history. Independent inspection is probably essential at that age.

AnswerID: 511106

Follow Up By: Keith B2 - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 20:31

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 20:31
I had a RACV inspection booked for Friday after it ticked all my boxes... but that would cost me $330 and decided that if I didn't have much faith in the dealer, I didn't want to buy from him in principle.

I fully respect the risk with buying an old car but to be honest I have a lot more faith in a 20 year old car built in the 90s than a 20 year old built now, just for arguments sake!

FollowupID: 789242

Follow Up By: Member - nellyjr - Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 13:27

Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 13:27
I can tell you form experience that he RACV Inspections are no more than a tick box excercise and are really no worth the money. They do look at all of the common areas and will find some faults if they look in the right places, but having seen many of these done, i can tell you that the stuff they don't and normally can't l;ook at, are the EXPENSIVE bits to fix.
They cant tell you about the Engine, Gearbox, Diff, Injection - Fuel system wear. These are the most expensive and hardest to fix components.

From my experience (over 20 years in Automotive service and parts) if you dont know the History of the vehicle, STOP right there! unless it is very good value for money, say 5-6k under what you are prepared to pay for that vehicle , as this would allow enough room in the price to replace a motor or gearbox etc if one blows up and the vehicle still wont owe you too much?
FollowupID: 789303

Reply By: Member - Broodie H3 - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 16:40

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 16:40
Hi Keith,
as a general rule when buying second hand vehicle in the past, I generally don't worry about log books but I do make sure the vehicle that I am interested in has an RAC inspection and one that I pay for not the owner or the car yard. If the seller is not prepared for the vehicle to be inspected, I just walk away, following that, I get a Revs check on the vehicle, and also make sure the engine number tallies with the rego papers. By all means be cautious, it could save you getting burnt. I hope this is of some assistance to you. Being a 96 year vehicle I doubt If the previous owner would have the paper work, or know the full history of the vehicle as it is getting on in vehicle years. just my observation.
Broodie H3
Have car will travel

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AnswerID: 511108

Follow Up By: AlanTH - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 18:54

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 18:54
A vehicle of that age is unlikely to have any dealer or proper service records of any kind.
The Cooks old Camry is the same but it's always been serviced and new bits fitted not secondhand from a breakers. I think a good check and drive and how the owner presents it is more likely to give you a feel for the vehicle than bodged up records any one can do on their computer....hang on though! That's where all my records are!
I always keep my own records but whether others believe them or not is up to them and lets face it the vehicle is not going to cost much being that old so you won't lose much either.
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Follow Up By: Keith B2 - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 20:35

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 20:35
Thanks fellas!

Alan, to me (an 18 year old about to become a student) $7k is a lot of money! Especially considering that I can avoid being burnt if I follow some advice - such as yours.

Really I wanted to know how far I should push the dealer/seller in the future for history but it seems that it's more down to, as Broodie eluded to, mechanic inspection (which still costs a fair amount of doshie! $330 for this particular paj), how the car drives and feels initially and of course, my perception of who is selling me the car!

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Reply By: aboutfivebucks (Pilbara) - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 19:04

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 19:04
here is a good technique that has worked well in the past.
if there is no service book, pass on the car.
where there is a service book, try to identify the last owner.
if all you have is a name - look their phone number up (you can do it there and then in the sales yard if you have a smart phone). some service books will have receipts and other useful phone details in them. dont let the rep know youve spoken to the owner.
ask the previous owner about the car, they have already traded the car in and are often only very helpful.
you need to find information like "i traded it in as the gearbox is stuffed"
then after you've test driven the car, raise suspicion about the condition of the gear box and ensure this is going to be covered in the warranty. make sure the gearbox cops a special mention in the paperwork.
after you have acquired the vehicle, get another opinion on the gearbox and if it all works out - return it to the dealer for the respective repairs.

try it out. you've got nothing to lose. you can even practice on a car you have no interest in buying.
AnswerID: 511115

Follow Up By: steved58 - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 19:18

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 19:18
I for one would resent unsolicited phone calls about a car I have disposed of unless it is me selling it then Iam full of information
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Follow Up By: Keith B2 - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 20:38

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 20:38
Thanks ~$5,

Nice idea, I'll give it a go - suppose the worst case scenario is for the prev. owner to tell me to get f***ed!

FollowupID: 789244

Follow Up By: Member - Grundle (WA) - Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 18:35

Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 18:35
When i bought the Nisson the ph no of the previous owner was in the service book.Did'nt need to ph him as the veihical had only done 45,000 km.

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Reply By: Ross M - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 19:22

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 19:22
As customers we are groomed by the dealers to believe the service book is important.
It may be record of service history but is usually a record or religious book stamping rather than accurate records of what service the vehicle actually received.
The attitude of the motoring industry is to stamp the book no matter what as the the amount of service has is performed, that doesn't matter anywhere near as much.

A vehicle with full book record and "possibly" serviced as well, may have had a hard life/thrashed by the owner and was treated poorly.

It is how the kilometres are done not necessarily how many kilometres it has done.
A thrashed 50,000km vehicle may be much worse than a 80 to 100,000km vehicle driven properly but they both received identical services.

A competent vehicle condition assessment will reveal what you may not know/see or aren't in a position to judge for your self.

A friend of mine ran a motor wreckers and bought vehicles for resale too. He never took any notice of any books in the vehicle.
Are dealers honest? They fill in the books.
I have a record of a few vehicles in my area which have their books stamped by the dealer, only problem is most of those never had the diff's, transfercase, gearbox or tailshaft greased at the 10,000km despite the books showing it was all done by the book. Customer was charged for it all though.

Another issue is the quality of the lubricants used, dealers don't usually use the best available but a unfilled book owner often uses very good lubricants at appropriate times and love their vehicle.
Dealers require it to fail so as to sell new ones and/or keep the workshop busy because there is money to be made there, owners want it to keep going. Big difference there.

Don't judge a car by it's book contents. Peoples trust in dealerships is amazing but they sometimes have a Titanic failure.

Ross M
AnswerID: 511116

Follow Up By: Keith B2 - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 20:41

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 20:41
Thanks a lot! Not much to say to that other than it's great advice... I didn't have a particularly bad time with this dealer but he wasn't exactly the most charismatic salesman I've met... bit lazy as well. Has made me keep a keener eye out for private sellers, guess they're not trying to necessarily make a profit either!

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Follow Up By: AlanTH - Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 11:37

Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 11:37
Ross is right as are others here, what it says in the service record really means not much if most stealers attitudes are anything to go by. I usually do my own servicing and use the best oils I can even though it costs a bit more (much more sometimes) and I do it more regulary according to the driving conditions.
I always sell privately and have yet to have anyone complain about the condition of what I've sold them afterwards.
Good luck with your purchase.
FollowupID: 789288

Reply By: fisherPete - Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 12:54

Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 12:54
Keith when buying a vehicle of this age I MUCH prefer to buy private as you can talk to the owner . Dealers are expert in covering faults. Just make sure you get the checks done as well.I sold my 98 Jack privately a year ago, and the young bloke gives me and update every few months on how its going, and I am happy yto provide any info to him as well.
Log books are a guide only, and its not unusual for them to get bulk stamped, but if every entry is a diff pen,complete with smudge marks you will be pretty right.
Cheers Pete
AnswerID: 511162

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