The full service history has long been an important part of buying a used car. But changes have taken place over recent years. Rather than a garage putting a stamp in a service book that lives with the car, they enter details onto a digital service record held by the car maker. Owners then frequently access these through smartphone apps. But what happens if car makers won’t update the digital service record?
What happens when you have the car serviced?
The manufacturer will enter the details of the service onto their database. If you have the car serviced outside the dealer network (the car maker’s official sales and service outlets), the garage will have to contact the manufacturer.
Can independent garages enter digital service records?
Yes, but they must belong to the Independent Garage Association (IGA) to do so. One of the benefits of the digital service record (DSR) is that it’s secure. Enabling any backstreet operation to enter the record database ‑ even if they’re perfectly skilled and legitimate – will obviously give unscrupulous operators access to the system.
And whether an independent garage will want to update a digital service record is another question altogether. These systems are notoriously clunky to operate and all the car makers use different software. This means independent garages have to be confident over their IT skills to interact with different car makers’ records.
Is locking people out of the system legal?
The European Union’s Block Exemption regulation, which runs until 2023, means independent garages must have access to the tools, training and information they need to compete with manufacturer franchises.
It’s this same rule that gives customers the right to have their car serviced at any garage they choose without voiding their manufacturer warranty.
Technically, you might argue that by not updating the digital service record, manufacturers are flouting this regulation. But they might come back that they can’t let everyone access their system or it’ll pose a security risk.
What if you can’t update your service record?
Of course, the garage you’ve chosen to use might not be a member of the IGA. In which case, you may find that you can’t update the digital service record. There are a couple of steps you can take to ensure you maintain a full service history for your car.
If your garage is even remotely professional, it should give you an itemised bill for every piece of work it carries out on your car. We suggest you create a file for these. That way, when you come to sell the car, you can show potential buyers the work you’ve had done.
Alternatively, you could try the Servicefy app. This is an independent smartphone app that enables you to record all the work you have done on your car. It even reminds you when your car needs servicing and taking for its MOT.
Why have service histories gone digital?
While you and I might be fastidious about keeping paperwork and ensuring that our car is regularly serviced, it’s not the case with every driver. Some don’t bother getting their car serviced to manufacturer guidelines. Others lose their service book so the record disappears altogether.
The digital service record means there’s always a service history ‑ as long as details of the service are input. Of course as cars get older, they fall outside the manufacturer network. So up-to-date service histories on older cars rely manufacturers giving independent garages access to the systems.