When it comes to buying or selling a car, three letters can make a difference in how quickly each model gets snapped up and how much they sell for. So if you’ve spotted the combinations FSH and PSH on a car ad and wondered what they mean, you’re about to find out.

What is a full-service history?

When any new car leaves the dealership forecourt, it loses a little of its value straight away. It also leaves the dealership with a handbook suggesting the correct care of the vehicle and a complete car service schedule. This schedule dictates that the owner, to keep the car running in tip-top shape, must entertain the full and major services suggested by the manufacturer at the recommended mileage or periods.

When a garage or dealership carried out a service in the good old days, it was recorded in the handbook (or car service book). Most conscientious drivers would store all relevant and associated paperwork—receipts and invoices showing parts and payments—as further proof of everything the car required for its upkeep.

As each vehicle changes hands, the potential new owner wants to see that the car has been lovingly maintained throughout its life. They also expect to see proof that any problem parts have been dealt with and replaced correctly. Such a record provides far more confidence that they’re getting the vehicle they expect and not one with a host of hidden issues.

Part service history

If the magical letters FSH are replaced by the slightly less helpful PSH, it means that somewhere along the road, one or more of the services has been skipped, or the paperwork has gone astray. A Partial Service History will include plenty of information, but there could well be a few nasty gaps in proceedings to set off those alarm bells.

How much difference does a full-service history make to a used car’s price?

Poke around the web, and you’ll find plenty of surveys and articles detailing how buyers react to cars that fail to provide a full-service history.

This article from freecarcheck.co.uk tells us:

  • 75% of drivers would be put off buying a car with no service history
  • 15% would consider buying the car but only after a reduction in price
  • 54% would expect at least 15% off the asking price
  • 25% would expect at least 20% off the asking price

20% is quite a chunk of your car that isn’t too old and still in good condition. Actually, 20% is quite a chunk, whatever the age of the car and the condition it’s in!

So if you want to attain the most possible when selling your car, make sure you’ve got all your ducks in a row and your service history neatly detailed at every step.

The manufacturer logbook vs online car service history

The vehicle handbook was the perfect place to store each car service stamp and was as good a system as any for years. However, times have changed with paper-based systems becoming outdated and clumsy compared to the alternatives.

Most manufacturers now have digital versions for their latest models. Depending on the vehicle, you may have to complete an online registration to fulfill each obligation, or they might be automatically applied to the car itself, especially when any work is carried out through the dealership.