Car Inspection Before Buying
No piece of car-buying advice is more often ignored than this: Have a mechanic inspect a used car before you buy it. Why do buyers plunk down thousands of dollars on a car with little more than an around-the-block test drive and a glance under the hood? Three reasons often deter car buyers from taking this vital step:
car inspection before buying
Some consumers don't know that good used-car inspections are readily available.
Many car buyers don't want to pay the extra money for an inspection.
Some people anticipate a hassle getting a dealer or private party to agree to an inspection.
With a little planning, the inspection process can be simple, not to mention as revealing as a hidden-camera exposé. If the inspection report is clean, you can buy with increased confidence. If it unearths ugly problems, you can back away or negotiate a lower price to reflect the cost of repairs.
Most sellers will let you take the car for an inspection or agree to have a mobile inspection performed at their home or place of business. If the seller hesitates, you might wonder what they're hiding and consider walking away from the deal.
Experts agree that used cars must be inspected by a qualified specialist before the final negotiation for purchase. The ordinary car buyer, even if mechanically savvy, really can't do it justice. A thorough, professional inspection can tell you whether you're about to buy a peach or a lemon.
You should try to have the inspection performed by a mechanic with whom you've already built a relationship. And ideally, the inspection should include a test drive over a route that includes hills, bumps and potholes to reveal suspension problems and engine performance issues. Having a third party inspect and test the vehicle establishes trust and increases your familiarity with the car. Sure, there's a ton of information available on the web about every model, but what you need at this juncture is detailed information about this particular car. A professional inspection will tell you both what might be wrong with this vehicle and also what's right with it.
Smart sellers, too, know the value of a presale inspection. Having the car thoroughly scrutinized by a reliable third party before listing it provides an additional selling point in the form of a written report. While this is useful information and lends credibility to the seller, you should still insist on getting your own independent inspection before making the purchase.
Many people will be faced with the choice of having a mobile inspector look at a car or taking the vehicle to a local mechanic. While the most important thing is getting a qualified inspection, each method has its advantages and disadvantages.
A mobile inspection is fast and convenient. The inspector comes to your or the seller's home or office, performs the inspection on site, and prints out a report on the spot. Inspectors also photograph any damage, taking shots of the vehicle from different angles.
Online car-buying sites have given buyers access to thousands of vehicles they might never have found otherwise, but purchasing a car located far away can bring a number of potential problems. These might include out-and-out fraud, payment issues, paperwork difficulties and, critically, the inability to see the vehicle in person before committing to the sale. Here's where a presale inspection can help.
If you find a car you like in another part of the country, you should, of course, ask to see a lot of close-up photographs and get a vehicle history report. But a professional inspection will provide an important extra level of insurance that you're not buying a pack of trouble. And arranging an inspection that will take place elsewhere isn't that difficult.
Obviously, it isn't a great idea to rely on the seller to choose the person who will perform the inspection. If you know someone in the area where the car is located, you can ask them to recommend a reliable mechanic. Failing that, a dealership that sells that model of vehicle can generally be trusted to provide an accurate assessment. And if you're the one ordering and paying for the inspection, the report should come directly to you and not through the seller.
There are also several inspection services, such as Alliance Inspection Management and Automobile Inspections, that specialize in assisting buyers with long-distance purchases. As a last resort, a web search and careful examination of online user reviews can turn up an independent shop in the seller's area that can do the job for you.
If the vehicle happens to be an exotic or collector car, online forums and clubs can be a great source of information. Individuals who live near the seller and own the same type of vehicle will likely be able to recommend reliable mechanics in the area. Some may even be familiar with the exact car you're thinking about buying.
While no inspection is guaranteed to find every flaw in a used car, a trained eye can help you avoid serious problems. A good mechanic, inspector or dealership technician will know what to look for and will have the equipment needed to provide a reliable assessment of a vehicle's condition, including the all-important safety equipment. Given thousands of dollars are at stake, an hour of your time and a reasonable fee are good insurance against the unknown.
Used car inspections are readily available and can be money well spent if they help you avoid buying a lemon. Car buyers typically pay about $200 for an independent inspection, and reputable sellers should agree to it.
A used car inspection, also known as a prepurchase inspection, is conducted by an independent mechanic. A local mechanic or inspection service will examine the car based on a checklist of potential problem areas, alerting you to anything that might make you think twice about buying the car.
The inspection may also include photos of major systems to document their condition and point out problem areas. The mechanic should put the car on a lift to inspect the underside for damage or rust and to look for evidence of fluid leaks. A road test will help identify any problems with the engine, transmission and brakes.
Prices for a used car inspection will vary by location, the type of car and the depth of the inspection. Some mechanics offer a basic visual inspection and test drive for $70. A more detailed inspection, including putting the car on a lift, may cost up to $200. Nationwide car care chains offer free basic courtesy checks that could help you spot obvious issues.
Courtesy checkFreeNational service chains such as Goodyear and Firestone Basic visual inspection$70Often includes test drive Pep Boys$74.99120-point inspection and CarFax Detailed inspection$100 to $200Often includes lifting the vehicle, an accident inspection and a test drive Mobile inspection service$200May include pictures, depending on provider Lemon Squad sports/exotic car inspection$259For luxury vehicles like Porsche, Lamborghini or Bugatti Lemon Squad classic car inspection$299For cars 20 years old or older
There are a number of ways to get a used car inspection. You could go to a trusted mechanic or find a service that comes to you. Mobile inspection services may be the most convenient option, but they may also be the priciest.
While this could be something you negotiate with the seller, typically the buyer will cover the cost of the inspection, which usually ranges from $100-$200. This price can be higher or lower depending on the level of detail with which the inspection is conducted.
In addition, it is important to remember that you always have the right to shop and compare when making any purchase, especially when buying an item as costly as a new or used vehicle. You will find the process much easier if you understand that you can shop and compare not only for your local auto dealers, but also your financing and warranty services as well.
It is always a good idea to conduct some research before you buy a new or used vehicle. By law, the dealer is required upon request to either display or disclose in writing a used vehicle's asking price (RCW 46.70.125). The dealer must also provide the name and address of the former registered owner to a prospective buyer upon request if that owner was a business or government entity. This disclosure allows you to ask questions about the use and maintenance of the vehicle, including any accident damage, repairs, and mileage (RCW 46.70.180(6)).
Prior to agreeing to buy a vehicle that meets your needs, take the used vehicle to a mechanic you trust to have the engine, other mechanical parts and safety equipment inspected and tested. When a dealer or private party is reluctant or refuses to allow an independent inspection of the vehicle, you should seriously reconsider whether this is the car or truck for you. You may also consider the following actions before making a decision about purchasing a vehicle:
A thorough test drive and mechanical inspection are the only ways to make sure the vehicle you are contemplating buying is in good mechanical condition. Verbal representations about the vehicle by a salesperson are not necessarily binding promises to help you with any problems that develop. Many quality dealers will stand behind vehicles they sell and will work to solve problems, but a buyer should not expect that the dealer will always solve every problem. If you buy it "as is," and it is defective, you cannot always expect the dealer to fix it.
If you purchase a service contract on a used vehicle from the same dealer within 90 days of purchase, the implied warranty of merchantability cannot be waived, and you will have the protection of both the service contract and the implied warranty of merchantability (RCW 48.96.045(4)). The availability of the implied warranty or a service contract does not eliminate the need for a thorough test drive and an inspection by a qualified mechanic.
If you did not effectively or knowingly waive the implied warranty, or if the dealer made sufficient verbal promises about the vehicle's condition and what will happen if any problems arise such that an express warranty is created, you may be able to get the dealer to fix the vehicle at reduced or no charge. But verbal promises are always difficult to prove and enforce. When a dealer's salesperson or manager refuses to put important promises or representations in writing, you should consider buying elsewhere. Further, since your signature on a document is very important, you must read everything before you sign making certain that any verbal promises are included. 041b061a72