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Why it’s Important to Check the MOT and Service History of a Vehicle Before You Buy

Whether you’re getting your first ever car or you’re trading your current vehicle in for a better model, buying a car is one of the most exciting purchases you can make. After years of having to rely on other people to get you from A to B, you can finally get out on the open road independently and, for those getting an upgrade on their current vehicle, this is a chance to start fresh and buy a car that you’re truly proud to drive.

There’s no denying the benefits that come with having your own car, however, it’s not as simple as collecting the keys and driving off into the sunset. For those purchasing a used vehicle, the risks can often be higher and with this in mind, it’s essential to ensure your vehicle is fit for purpose before agreeing upon the sale. Taking a car for a test drive is all well and good, but certain faults may not be immediately apparent and it can often be difficult to assess whether or not a car is good value for money simply by driving it- so what’s the best way to ensure you get the car of your dreams?

As our title suggests, it’s vital to check the MOT and service history of a vehicle prior to purchasing. A pre-loved vehicle will likely have a lot of mileage and general wear and tear is inevitable, however, its service history is what counts as this will give you a clear idea of what kind of condition your vehicle is in and whether it’s worth buying. 

To ensure you take all the necessary precautions before purchasing your new car, we’ve outlined why it’s so essential to check the MOT and service history of a vehicle along with some common red flags to look out for.

Checking MOT test certificates

A Ministry of Transport (MOT) test is an assessment that all vehicles that are three years old and over must have on annual basis. An MOT will test vehicle safety, roadworthiness and exhaust emissions and will involve a fairly thorough examination of all aspects of the vehicle.

An MOT is something that vehicles need to undergo annually as a legal requirement and with this in mind, obtaining proof of these examinations is essential. A car owner will be awarded a certificate after each MOT stating whether they have passed or failed and most importantly, it will also contain notes regarding any advisories. To give you a better idea of your potential new car’s history, you should ask to see past MOT certificates and further to this, you’ll want to check whether or not the car’s currently got a valid MOT.

Whilst it’s preferable for a seller to be able to provide physical proof of a car’s MOT history, this information can also be easily found online. You can very easily check the MOT history of a vehicle and this will give you information such as whether it’s passed or failed, the mileage, the location of the test centre, details of failures and any minor problems and when the next MOT is due. Identifying any problems the car has had in the past will potentially give you a chance to see if these have been rectified. For example, if the tyres were listed as being low on tread, you can examine them to see if this issue has been dealt with by the seller. 

A car’s MOT history will indicate what kind of state the vehicle is in (or has been in) which in turn, will help you assess whether or not the purchase is worth the money. Buying a substandard vehicle could end up costing you a fortune further down the line, not to mention the fact that it could be potentially dangerous. With this in mind, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and check car MOT test certificates to give you peace of mind that you’re getting the car you want.

Full car service history: why is this needed?

When you purchase a used car, it should come with an up to date service book. This is a book that is stamped by the garage that completed the service and will usually state the mileage at the time of the service along with tasks that were carried out. Every vehicle will vary on how often it’s serviced, however, obtaining a service history is extremely important to give you peace of mind that your car has been properly looked after. A service history will allude to any maintenance work and car repairs that have been carried out and it will also be dated so you can get a better idea of your vehicle’s overall condition through the years.

In addition to a service book, it may also be an idea to see further proof that your potential new car has been well cared for. Whereas service book stamps can be faked, there’s no substitute for receipts and service sheets and as a general rule, the more documents you can obtain to prove your vehicle’s worth, the better. 

Delving into a car’s service history will inform you of any glaring issues as well as any minor problems and it will also indicate a vehicle’s mileage. Finding out a vehicle’s mileage will likely give you a rough estimate of how many more years it has in it and further to this, it will indicate which car parts may soon need replacing. For example, it’s said that some brake pads will need to be replaced every 20,000 miles whereas brake discs should be replaced every 40,000 miles. These costs can begin to rack up and with this in mind, checking a car’s mileage is essential to ensuring there are no unforeseen costs further down the line.

Red flags to look out for when buying a second hand car 

Now that you’re aware of the indicators that a car is worth purchasing, it’s important to be aware of red flags that suggest a vehicle may not be fit for purpose. Some of these include:

Advisories not being addressed 

As previously mentioned, if certain issues with a vehicle are identified during an MOT test (such as low tyre tread), you may be able to check yourself whether this has been rectified by the seller and if it hasn’t, this is a sign to steer clear. If simple issues haven’t been fixed, there’s no telling what other important jobs have been ignored and with this in mind, it’s better to err on the side of caution and continue your search.

Complicated history

It’s all well and good obtaining your car’s full history, but if the history is full of breakdowns and repairs, this could be a sign that your vehicle is not worth the money. After all, a vehicle that’s prone to problems is likely to rack up many unforeseen costs further down the line, so it may be worth paying more initially in order to get a car that runs more smoothly.

Missing or suspect stamps

A fully stamped service book will indicate that a pre-loved car has been well looked after by its previous owner, however, missing stamps could suggest a lack of diligence in care. Similarly, if the stamps appear to be questionable, they may have been faked to improve a car’s value and if you suspect this has happened, the sale is to be avoided at all costs. A forged service book suggests that a car has been neglected in the past and further to this, it’s highly immoral. So, to ensure you get the car of your dreams, find a genuine seller that’s able to provide all the paperwork you need and once you find them, you’ll be out on the open road in no time.

Whether you’ve recently purchased a brand new car or a pre-loved vehicle, rely on St Albans Car Clinic for all of your servicing needs. In addition to MOT tests, we conduct interim, full and major servicing and our experts will ensure your car is in tip-top condition before it’s returned to you.

In the event that a fault is identified, our mechanics are trained to diagnose issues quickly and efficiently and using top-quality equipment, we’ll restore your vehicle back to its former glory in no time.

To find out more about the services we offer, contact us today on 01727 867747 and give your car the star treatment at St Albans Car Clinic.

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