A car’s in-service date relates to the original sale of the vehicle. So if you’re interested in buying a car with a certified pre-owned (CPO) warranty or with some amount of remaining factory warranty, you need to know about this term.
This term applies to the day a car got sold to the first owner. But why is it so important? And how exactly do you calculate it?
Why Is It So Important?
An in-service date is important because it’s not only the date the car is originally sold but also the date a car’s warranty begins. And it’s not just the warranty. The original sales date can be used to calculate when other perks began, such as free scheduled maintenance (if a car includes it), free factory trials of features such as SiriusXM radio and dealer-installed extras.
So if you’re interested in buying a used car with some warranty life left, it’s obvious why the in-service date is so important: It’s how you calculate when your warranty expires, and the manufacturer no longer covers your repairs. A simple model year isn’t good enough because it doesn’t tell you everything you need to know.
A 2021 car, for example, may have been sold at any point from early 2020 through the end of 2021 — or even later.
An in-service date is also used for calculating most certified pre-owned warranties. While some CPO warranties begin the day a buyer purchases the used car, most start on the day the dealer originally sold the car. In other words, knowing the car’s in-service date can be a huge benefit because it determines exactly how much warranty you’ll get with your certified pre-owned car.
How Do You Calculate It?
Now that you know why the in-service date is so important, you’ll probably be curious how you calculate it. Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer.
The best way to find out a car’s in-service date is to call up your local dealership and find out for sure. If you’re interested in a Kia, for instance, you’ll want to call up a Kia dealership’s service department and ask when the car originally went into service.
Most dealerships will have no problem giving you this information over the phone at no charge. If you’re buying a car from a dealer, you should expect this information to be included before the sale is finalized, so you know exactly how much warranty you have left.
If you’re negotiating a car deal on a day when a dealership’s service department is closed, you may want to check the car’s vehicle history report from AutoCheck or Carfax.
Both of these reports will give you the car’s original sale date, and while it may not precisely match the dealer’s official figure, it will give you a great idea about when your warranty likely began — and when it’s set to expire.
Related Stories about Car Buying:
- How to Buy a Used Car
- What’s More Important When Buying a Car: Miles or Age?
- Car Invoice Price and Dealer Markup: Tips for Buying a Car
Autotrader’s Renee Valdes contributed to this report