Buying a used car is a popular choice because it's practical and affordable, but there are risks. You can’t guarantee that the used car won’t be a lemon—or can you? A pre-purchase car inspection helps you avoid any nasty surprises during the used car sale.
Pre-purchase vehicle inspections involve carefully surveying every nook and cranny of a vehicle. A certified mechanic will conduct the inspection to check if the car has mechanical issues or hidden problems you weren't aware of. Here’s what you need to know about pre-purchase car inspections:
What does a pre-purchase car inspection cover?
A pre-purchase car inspection is a comprehensive examination of the vehicle; top to bottom, inside and out. The mechanics or automotive expert will check almost every aspect of the car such as:
- Steering and suspension
- Electrical components
- Tyres and wheels
In addition to looking for issues or damages, the mechanic will assess the vehicle for signs of wear and tear. They’ll look at the vehicle history to ascertain how well the previous owner kept up with maintenance. They may also do emission tests to ensure the vehicle passes local emissions regulations.
Once the car check is done, they may also conduct a test drive to see the car’s handling and performance. When the vehicle inspection is done, you’ll receive a complete report detailing the car’s condition. It typically includes a summary of the findings and recommended repairs if necessary.
Where can I get a pre-purchase car inspection?
If you’re buying from a private seller, you can get a pre-purchase car inspection from car service and maintenance shops. Roadside assistance services like the NRMA may also offer vehicle inspection services. Go online or check your local area for the best place to get a pre-purchase car inspection near you.
For dealerships, they may offer a pre-purchase inspection report you can review. Make sure to analyse the report carefully. Discuss what the inspection does and does not cover. Don’t hesitate to ask the dealership questions about the vehicle’s condition if there’s something you’re unsure about.
How do I know if a vehicle inspector is any good?
When choosing the right place for your vehicle inspection, doing cursory research is always helpful. Look at a car service shop’s reviews online. You can get some helpful information by parsing through comments on their social media pages too. Talk to colleagues or family and ask for recommendations.
You can also talk to the mechanic or automobile professionals themselves. Ask about their experience handling cars with a similar make and model to the one you’re planning to buy. Check the mechanic’s qualifications; ensure they have the proper licenses or certifications.
When you’ve decided on where to get the pre-purchase car inspection, start coordinating with the seller. Attend the inspection so you have the opportunity to ask the mechanic questions or discuss the findings immediately.
How much does a pre-purchase car inspection cost?
The total cost of a vehicle inspection varies depending on the type of inspection, vehicle, and location. The standard sedan or SUV can cost around $100 to $300. It could cost over $300 depending on how in-depth and extensive you want the inspection to be. Vehicle inspection for luxury cars, sports vehicles, and vintage cars may cost more as they require a different level of expertise and care.
Why should I get a pre-purchase car inspection?
A vehicle inspection is not cheap, especially if you want something totally comprehensive. But the benefits outweigh the cost. You can’t really put a price on your peace of mind. With a vehicle inspection, you’ll know the actual condition of the car.
A pre-purchase inspection also puts you at an advantage during negotiations. If the inspection report comes up with issues not disclosed by the seller, you could use that as leverage when bargaining. You could request a price reduction or get the seller to fix it before the final sale.
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