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Why Pre-Purchase Inspections Are Important

Few things incite joy more than that first drive in your new car, even if it’s “new to you.” Conversely, few things incite more irritation than coming outside the next morning to find a puddle of oil on the ground beneath that car.

Given used car purchases tend to be “as-is” with “no take backs,” you’re pretty well stuck with whatever you get. Nearly every seller says the car they’re offering is in great shape. However, the only way to know for sure is to let somebody who knows what they’re doing look it over thoroughly.

This is why pre-purchase inspections are important when you’re buying ap re-owned automobile.

What Exactly Is a Pre-Purchase Inspection?

Simply put, it’s like going to the doctor for your annual physical exam. Just as the doctor tests the functions of all of your major systems, a mechanic will do the same for the automobile. This is key to getting an accurate accounting of the vehicle’s cosmetic, mechanical and safety condition.

Sure, lots of books and articles have been written about what to look for in a used car. Still, though, unless you’re a licensed and trained mechanic, specializing in the make — and ideally the model — of a particular automobile, there are things you will miss.

That is, until they fail and cost more than you paid for the car to fix.

Certified Pre-Owned Cars Get a Pass Right?

In light of the preponderance of certified used vehicles, with warranty protection, you might be tempted to forgo an inspection. Granted, those sellers do a rather thorough examination onsite to ensure the vehicle won’t cost them money before that warranty expires.

However, we strongly suggest you adhere to the “trust and verify” doctrine. Commissioning your own inspection gives you added peace of mind. And yes, it will cost you somewhere around $300, but it’s better to spend $300 to find out the car is cool than it is to take a chance and have a $5,000 problem later on.

It Could Save You in Other Ways Too

Let’s say you’re hot on this cool little sports car. You find one with the exact color combination and options you want at a pretty good price. The seller says it’s in wonderful shape — needing absolutely nothing but a caring owner. And, they like you because they can tell you’ll take great care of the car they’ve loved for so long.

You take it to your mechanic for an inspection, who finds it needs $3,500 worth of work. At that point, you have a few choices you wouldn’t have had if you’d passed on the inspection.

1) Forget that car altogether and keep looking
2) Ask the seller to make the repairs
3) Use the findings as a bargaining chip to get the seller to lower the price.
4) Go new and lease or buy a car instead

Scheduling an Inspection

Here’s the tricky part. Really good mechanics tend to be busy. You’re trying to buy a car in which other buyers are likely interested as well, so you need to get the inspection done as quickly as possible.

What do you do?

Many mechanics understand the nature of the situation and will move things around to accommodate you.Ask them to refer you to someone else who might have the availability if they can’t fit it into their schedule.

And, by the way, any seller refusing to permit one — purporting to not understand why pre-purchase inspections are important — should be regarded with skepticism.