If you’re turning in an old car, you may wonder if the dealership looks at the service records of trade-in vehicles. Service records are important. They show how well the car was maintained and any repair work done. The dealership will most likely ask for service records or look them up at the beginning of the trade-in process (you can use our trade-in value estimator before then). So it’s important to be prepared for this step.

Regular Service Can Increase Your Car’s Value

The dealer probably has access to the vehicle’s service records, especially if you purchased the car from them. They can look up the car’s service history online, too. If you have had your car regularly serviced throughout its life (i.e., routine oil changes, tire rotations, fluid checks, etc.), it’s likely to be in better shape and have fewer problems. Well-maintained cars also tend to last longer.

If you’ve kept up with your vehicle’s service recommendations, it’s reasonable to assume you can get more money from a trade-in. The benefits of providing the service records include:

  • More Room to Negotiate: A trade-in offer can be negotiable. By now, you’ve likely researched the value of your car in your area. If the trade-in offer is low, you can provide records of good service to ask for a higher offer. This is easier if you have data to back up an argument for a better price. If you’ve received offers from other dealers, you can use them as leverage too.
  • Consider Extras and Add-Ons: Extras and add-ons can help increase the trade-in or resale value of your car. The more solid your records of replaced parts and non-standard accessories are, the greater the chances of them increasing the vehicle’s value. A higher trim level may also be more valuable. But you stand a better chance of benefiting if you have good service records.
  • Time Your Trade-In: You’re more likely to get a better trade-in value if your car is in high demand. So, along with bringing service records, consider the season, day of the week/month, and weather when trading in your vehicle. If you have an all-wheel-drive SUV, trade it in in the winter. If you own a convertible, consider trading it in during the spring or summer.

How Do Dealerships Find the Service Records of a Trade-In Vehicle?

All they need is the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and an online database such as CarFax or AutoCheck. These sources can provide a report that shows when the car was maintained and repaired (and when/if/what parts have been replaced). Service records can also show if it was ever damaged in a flood or a fire.

Do I Need Service Records If I Trade In My Car For a Lease?

You can trade in your current vehicle to reduce the monthly payment on a lease. The dealer will still want to see the service history. However, the trade-in can enable you to afford a newer model or higher trim level. Your old car’s service records can help in valuing your trade and coming to a fair agreement.

Should I Bring My Service Records If I’m Purchasing a Used Car?

The same goes for trading in a car to purchase a used model. A car that’s in good condition should command a higher price. Not that economic and seasonal factors won’t play a role. But if you’re buying a used car, bring as many documents as possible to get a fair value to apply to your used car purchase.

Can I Ask a Dealer for the Records of a Vehicle That’s Been Traded In?

As a used car buyer, you can research the service history or take the vehicle to a mechanic before purchasing it. You can also ask the dealership. They may provide the records without a fee, while other dealers may not release maintenance records due to privacy concerns (some records can contain the previous owner’s phone number, address, or credit card information). 

If a dealer cites privacy concerns, you can request the records in person and ask the dealer to print them and block out any personal information. And remember, you’ll only get records of service done at the dealership. Any service performed at an independent mechanic won’t show up in the dealer’s database. Therefore, you may want to obtain the dealer’s records (if they have any) and schedule an independent inspection.

Value Your Trade-In at Hawthorne Auto Square

Use our Edmunds Trade-In Value Estimator to receive an instant online vehicle appraisal. It uses specific details about your car to estimate its resale price. However, the tool does not factor in its condition, which is why our dealership looks at the service records of trade-in vehicles.

We’ll be happy to evaluate your car and make a trade-in offer to apply to your next used car purchase in Los Angeles. You can also take advantage of our financing options and service and maintenance plans. To learn more or browse our range of popular and luxury brands, continue browsing, call (866) 707-7664, or visit us in person.