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3 Reasons Your Car’s Service Records Are Essential

At your doctor’s office, they keep a file on your medical history. You’ve certainly seen the file cabinets full of manila folders with brightly colored stickers boasting some seemingly indecipherable code that must be taught in medical school.

Your car’s service records are kind of like your personal medical history. Your car is likely one of your most valuable assets, so why wouldn’t you hang on to its records? They don’t take up much space, and they could prove to be important in these three key ways.

They’re Good Reminders

Service records are a good reminder of the maintenance you have and haven’t completed. Automakers include a list of suggested maintenance at specific mileage intervals in their owner’s manuals, but there’s usually not enough room in there to document what you did in great detail.

Thumbing through your service receipts before your next trip to the mechanic could save you a lot of money. For instance, if the automaker recommends a brake flush every 25,000 miles but you see in your records that you had this costly service performed just 5,000 miles ago, you could avoid another expensive trip to the mechanic.

They Help Increase Resale Value

If you’re buying a used car, you probably want some assurance that it was well maintained by the previous owner. A clean, highly detailed car might look good, but what if all the previous owner did was wash and wax it, and they failed to perform the regularly scheduled maintenance?

Don’t be that car owner! Hang on to your service records and give them to the next owner when you sell the car. They’re a tangible, valuable history of the good care you’ve taken of the vehicle.

Just remember to grab a pair of scissors and remove your personal information — such as your name, address, phone number and email address — from any paperwork before you pass it on to the next owner.

They Help with Costly Warranty Claims

If you’ve kept up with regular oil changes and manufacturer-recommended services but something catastrophic goes wrong while your car is still under warranty, your records could come in handy. Regular service is generally required to prevent a warranty from being voided. Your car can’t talk, so a stack of papers showing what you’ve had done to prevent big issues from happening is proof that you’ve done your best.

Anecdotally, it’s not uncommon for an automaker to take care of a car’s issues, even if its warranty recently ended, if there’s good evidence that the car has been properly maintained and that all precautionary measures that should have prevented the issue from happening in the first place have been taken.

So grab a manila envelope and stuff those service records inside. That small effort could save you a lot of money.

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Andrew Ganz
Andrew Ganz is an author specializing in helping in-market consumers get the most bang for their buck -- and the best car, while they're at it. When not virtually shopping for new and used cars, Andrew can probably be found under the hood of a vintage classic that's rapidly losing fluids.

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