When buying a used car, it is often a good idea to look for cars that have detailed service histories. The older the car is, the more important this service history becomes. These histories can often take a variety of different forms, depending on the age of the car and how serious its previous owners were about maintenance. You may find everything from detailed excel spreadsheets and fully organized and itemized expense lists to simple binders full of receipts. While fancy, highly organized histories can be appealing, the form doesn't matter nearly as much as the content. No matter how the history is presented, these are the three things you should be looking for as you review any car's maintenance records.

A History of Dealership Service

One of the first items that you should check is the car's early maintenance history. Determine the car's original warranty length and check to make sure that both routine and non-routine service appointments were handled by the dealership during this period. While many out-of-warranty owners choose to use cheaper independent shops, regular dealership maintenance is usually required during a car's original warranty period. By confirming that the car was serviced at a dealership, you can be sure that any small problems that were discovered in its early history were dealt with by experienced professionals.

Regular Maintenance

If you have access to the car's owner manual, check its maintenance schedule. For most manufacturers, this schedule will include a variety of items above and beyond oil checks. The maintenance schedule should tell you, for example, when spark plugs should be changed and how often the brake fluid should be checked. While pouring over maintenance history, be sure to check if the original owner kept up with this routine maintenance. More esoteric items are (unfortunately) often handled less religiously once a car is out of warranty, but it is important that the full maintenance schedule was followed at least during the car's original warranty period.

Common Problems

Unfortunately, most cars usually require more work than simple routine maintenance. For many models, common problems tend to develop anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 miles. In some cases, these problems even develop during the warranty period. One of the most important things you can do when researching a particular model of vehicle is to determine the issues that are typically experienced by long-term owners. Any example of that model which you are considering should have maintenance records which show that some or all of these common issues were already addressed. If not, be prepared to add the cost of those repairs to your overall cost of ownership.

Buying a used car requires slightly more diligence than purchasing a new car, but a detailed maintenance history can alleviate many common concerns. By carefully checking the service logs of your potential purchase, you are sure to find an amazing car for a great price. For more information, turn to a company like Car Craft Auto Sales, Inc.