Used Car Inspection

Buying a used car is a great way to save money. However, before you make a used car purchase, it is important to know that the vehicle is safe and is not in need of major and costly repairs. By getting a used car inspection you can have a much stronger sense of the shape of your potential used car.

What a Used Car Inspection Should Cover

A thorough check-up examines mechanical, safety, and appearance aspects, such as the vehicle's:

  • Tires.
  • Frame.
  • Suspension.
  • Glass.
  • Lights.
  • Brakes.
  • Radiator.
  • Hoses.
  • Belts.
  • Fluids.
  • Battery.
  • Body condition.
  • Exterior surface.

The best inspections include a road test and a computerized engine analysis. Some comprehensive examinations also evaluate the condition of the instrument controls, pedals, seats, and sound system.

Where to Get a Used Car Inspection

Take the car to a trusted repair shop, if you have one. Otherwise, most dealer service departments and independent repair shops will be happy to do the inspection. Just look online or through your phone book to find local shops that perform inspections.

If the seller refuses to let you take the car away, suggest that the seller accompany you to the shop. Or, use a shop that provides mobile inspections. While these examinations aren't as complete as those performed on a lift, they still can be quite helpful.

If you're not buying from a local seller, you can order a pre-purchase inspection from a certified inspection shop located near the seller, and the shop will send the report to you.

The price of pre-purchase car inspections will vary, and may seem a little expensive. Just remember that this extra cost can save you from buying a car that will cost you much more in repairs.

What to Do With the Report

A glowing report should facilitate the sale of the car, and make both the buyer and seller feel more at ease with the transaction.

A report that uncovers some minor flaws can be used as a bargaining tool to lower the price. Or, you can insist that the seller take care of the issues before you pay the asking price.

A troublesome report, meanwhile, should make you reconsider the purchase, unless the seller is willing to fix all the problems, or you're adept at car repairs and the seller lowers the price accordingly.

Personal Car Inspection

Just because you're not a mechanic doesn't mean you shouldn't pay close attention when evaluating a used car. No one is more invested than you in finding a good car to buy, even if you bring someone along to help.

When conducting your own inspection be sure to check for:

  • Leaks.
  • Odd engine noises.
  • Smoke.
  • Tire wear.
  • Misaligned doors.
  • Cracked glass.
  • indications of flood or fire damage.
  • Poor repair work.
  • Unusual smells.

Additionally, you should remember to check the fluid levels and search the exterior for dents, rust, and scratches.

You should always take the car on a thorough test drive―that includes driving at different speeds and on varying roadway types― and make mental notes on how the car steers, brakes, and handles.

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