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We'll tell you what to look for when reading a checkbook, how to properly maintain your own checkbook, and what to do if you lose it.

The checkbook is important when buying or selling a car. With a neat checkbook you can increase the value of your car. Or track down counterfeits with the right knowledge. We clarify the most important questions about the checkbook:

Basic knowledge of the checkbook

  • What is the checkbook?
  • What does “full service history” mean?

Maintain the checkbook yourself

  • Do i need a checkbook?
  • How do I use a checkbook?
  • Where can I get a checkbook and how much does it cost?
  • What can I do if I lost the checkbook?

Read the checkbook when buying a car

  • How do I read a checkbook?
  • How do I recognize a counterfeit checkbook?

Basic knowledge of the checkbook

The checkbook is also called a service book, service plan, or maintenance book. A car is almost always referred to as "full service history".

What is the checkbook?

A car's checkbook tells you which maintenance is due and when, and which inspections have been carried out.

Every car has to be serviced again and again after a certain period of time. This is the only way for the manufacturer to guarantee perfect functioning. When the intervals are depends on the manufacturer, the model and the use. Usually you have to have your car serviced after a certain number of kilometers. If it was done, the workshop will give you a stamp and a signature in the checkbook.

The checkbook is important for you in three cases:

  • Your automaker or dealer should Assuming costs under guarantee or goodwill: A complete checkbook is mandatory. This proves that you have done all the necessary maintenance.
  • You want sell your car: With the checkbook you can prove that you have done all the inspections. This increases the value of your used car.
  • You want one buy used car: A complete checkbook shows you that all maintenance has been carried out. You can assume that the car won't need to be repaired anytime soon. But be careful: there are also fraudsters.

By the way: The term “checkbook” comes from earlier times. At that time there were vouchers ("checks") in the service book. This allowed one or more maintenance work to be carried out free of charge. The auto repair shops then cashed the check at the manufacturer.

What does "checkbook maintained" mean?

"Checkbook maintained" or "Maintenance performed according to the service booklet" means that all maintenance work has been carried out in accordance with the manufacturer's guidelines. That always depends on the kilometers driven and the prescribed period.

You read these terms in used car ads. Some salespeople see a single entry in the checkbook as "checkbook maintained". However, the term may officially only be used if the checkbook has been kept completely up to the point of sale.

For other cases there are these terms:

  • Partly with a checkbook: A part of the maintenance was done and registered. In that case, check which ones they were and what consequences this could have.
  • Checkbook maintained at the authorized dealer: All inspections were carried out by an authorized workshop. The workshop is authorized to do so by the manufacturer. The maintenance has been done carefully. The likelihood of problems is lower. The seller can demand a higher purchase price.

Maintain the checkbook yourself

A well-kept checkbook preserves the value of your car and guarantees that your car is in good order. It is worthwhile to have all inspections carried out and registered on a regular basis.

Do i need a checkbook?

A checkbook is not mandatory. But it only has advantages for you, because it documents the service history of your vehicle. If you want to sell your car, you can provide a complete checkbook to prove that your car has been properly maintained. This increases the value of your vehicle and the selling price.

It also guarantees that your car should drive flawlessly. In the event of damage despite professional maintenance, the manufacturer has to pay.

How do I use a checkbook?

The checkbook tells you when to take your car for an inspection. It also contains data about your vehicle, service offers and the warranty. You will know:

  • At what mileage you need to replace the timing belt, change the oil or replace the brake fluid.
  • General care information such as the correct tire pressure, the correct oil or the breakdown phone number.
  • Data about your vehicle. In this way, you can check which optional equipment your vehicle has at the time of sale.

In the workshop, make sure that your checkbook is stamped. The master mechanic writes down the date, the mileage, the scope of the maintenance performed and has to sign it.

Where can I get a checkbook and how much does it cost?

The checkbook is part of the manual that you get when you buy a car. If your checkbook is full or if you want to start a new one, you can buy the checkbook on the Internet, for example on eBay. You can also ask your manufacturer or a workshop.

Depending on the provider, you have to reckon with 5-20 euros. If you are lucky, you will receive the checkbook for free.

The digital service book

Newer cars in particular no longer have a checkbook. Many manufacturers have a digital service book. That means: every action in the workshop is saved on a central computer. All authorized workshops can access the data. Independent workshops can also get a permit from the manufacturer.

You cannot lose a digital service booklet and it can easily be continued abroad in another language. In addition, forgeries, especially the mileage, are not possible.

As a customer, you will receive a printout of the last service measure. You can access your service history differently depending on the manufacturer: directly in the car, via app, or online. Sensors in your vehicle automatically recognize when wearing parts need to be replaced. You will usually be informed about this in the car display. If your car still has a paper service plan, it will continue as usual.

What can I do if I lost the checkbook?

Once you have kept all the bills, you can start a new checkbook. Customer service representatives usually update all data free of charge. Have the workshop confirm this so that it doesn't look like a fake.

If you have driven a lot and cannot prove the maintenance of the first few kilometers, you have to consider whether a new checkbook makes sense.

If the data was recorded digitally, you can query the service history from the manufacturer with your vehicle identification number. All workshops record your inspections. If you have had all the entries made by a workshop, you can easily inquire about it. If you have several workshops, this is time-consuming.

Basically, it makes sense to keep all invoices and regularly copy the service booklet. It pays off in sales.

Read the checkbook when buying a car

The checkbook will help you assess whether the car you have bought is OK. Without a booklet, you cannot be sure whether the oil change was made in time or the timing belt was replaced.

How do I read a checkbook?

Check that all necessary maintenance has been done on time. Above all, you should look at the weak points of the model.

Above all, you don't want the risk of engine damage. Check when the last oil change was made and the timing belt replaced.

If not all entries are available, you can have invoices prove that the maintenance has been carried out. You should also do this if a checkbook appears to be forged.

How do I recognize a counterfeit checkbook?

You should also check a full checkbook. There are fraudsters who want to get a better sales price with falsified information. Check:

  • When and where was the maintenance carried out?
  • Have the entries been confirmed with a stamp and signature?
  • Are all pages in place and none torn out?
  • Take a look at the maintenance cards. They are attached in the engine compartment or on the door pillar on the driver's side. It says here when the brake fluid and oil were topped up. Does it match the information in the checkbook?
  • Pay attention to the mileage. It is noted with every maintenance. Check whether the odometer reading in the checkbook makes sense and makes sense in comparison with the current number.

In the best case, you can prove the entries with the invoices. Remember that workshops can also help with manipulation. Approach the car purchase with common sense and, ideally, a professional. If you recognize contradictions, address them to the seller. You may be able to lower the purchase price.

By the way: If the seller intentionally provided incorrect information, you can usually cancel the sales contract and get your money back.

Take good care of your checkbook

If your checkbook is lost, you can no longer provide evidence of all services. Therefore, always keep all invoices. Little effort that pays off when selling a car.

If you buy a car, “full service history” is not a must, but it is recommended. It can save you high follow-up costs for repairs or maintenance. Take the time to check a car's service book. Our car purchase checklist tells you what else you should pay attention to.

We wish you a good trip all the time! Your Allianz Direct

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