Get an inspection before buying a used car Advertiser Disclosure Advertiser Disclosure We are an independent, advertising-supported comparison service. Our aim is to assist you make better financial choices by offering you interactive tools and financial calculators that provide objective and original content. We also allow you to conduct your own research and compare information for free and help you make sound financial decisions. Bankrate has partnerships with issuers, including but not limited to American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citi and Discover. How We Earn money The products that appear on this site are from companies that compensate us. This compensation can affect the way and when products are listed on the site, such as, for example, the order in which they appear within the listing categories, except where prohibited by law. This applies to our mortgage, home equity and other products for home loans. But this compensation does not influence the information we provide, or the reviews that appear on this website. We do not contain the universe of companies or financial offerings that could be accessible to you. SHARE: Sinology/Getty Images

3 min read published May 12, 2022

Written by Kellye Guinan. Written personal and business finance contributor Kellye Guinan is a freelance editor and writer with more than five years’ experience in personal finance. She is also a full-time worker at her local library, where she assists the community to access information about financial literacy, in addition to other topics. The article was edited by Rhys Subitch Edited by Auto loans editor Rhys has been editing and writing for Bankrate from late 2021. They are passionate about helping readers gain confidence to control their finances by providing concise, well-researched and comprehensive information that breaks down complicated topics into bite-sized pieces. The Bankrate promise

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Therefore, this compensation may affect the way, location and when products appear within listing categories in the event that they are not permitted by law for our mortgage home equity, mortgage and other products for home loans. Other elements, such as our own website rules and whether a product is available in your area or at your self-selected credit score range could also affect the way and place products are listed on this website. We strive to offer a wide range offers, Bankrate does not include specific information on every credit or financial item or product. Car history reports can be helpful when you’re researching used cars, but if you’re , it is essential to conduct an inspection. Work with an outside mechanic who is who is not affiliated with the seller to identify potential problem areas. A reputable dealer should permit this to be a part of the process. You may also be able to request an inspection via mobile if the private seller doesn’t want to take a trip to a shady mechanic. The most important thing is to ensure that your mechanic is certified and trustworthy so that you’re not committing to repairs in the future. The reason why an inspection is crucial in the purchase process. A pre-purchase inspection will clue you in to the physical and cosmetic condition of the vehicle. This will not only aid in identifying potential problems, but it will also allow you to back out of a purchase if the used car doesn’t meet your needs. When you schedule an inspection, make sure you request a detailed account of what the inspection covers and how the technician will go about looking for. You should be provided with a complete checklist, which includes examining the interior and exterior for wear and tear. The mechanic will also inspect the operation of each of the car’s features and all fluid levels. You should find a mechanic who can assess the steering, engine, suspension and frame and also look for signs of previous water damage or accidents. Also, they should use an instrument to read codes for any errors that might indicate a problem. If they discover any, you can request an invoice for the appropriate repair. If you’ve got a written report, you’ll be able to negotiate to negotiate a lower price or locate a new vehicle. It might take more time but it could save you thousands of dollars in repair costs if you identify a problem before it gets to be a problem. When should you have the used car checked? avoid an official inspection until you’re certain about the . This means negotiating the price as well as driving the vehicle and doing your own inspection first. If you’re certain that this is the car you would like, arrange for an on-site mechanic to visit you , or work with the seller in order to bring the vehicle into a trusted mechanic. A pre-purchase inspection is the last step to finalizing the deal. In the end, you don’t want to pay on a car you won’t purchase. What is the cost of an inspection? A check-up can cost between $100 and $150, according to . But the actual cost will depend on the expertise that your technician has had, age of the vehicle , and any known issues. Your mechanic should provide you with a price before you bring the car into. Like taxes and charges, don’t tuck this expense into the loan. Budget for a used car inspection on its own — and don’t schedule one until you have narrowed down your selection to a single car that is in good shape. There is always a chance you’ll not want to purchase the car but saving the inspection until a negotiation in the last minute will help you avoid spending money. Where to have a used car examined The ideal way to conduct an inspection is to be performed by a mechanic with whom you already have a relationship with. Most private auto body and repair shops perform inspections on used cars. But if your mechanic doesn’t offer a referral, ask for one that does. If you don’t have a mechanic you trust Look for local mechanics not associated with dealerships with good customer reviews. You can find reviews on the shop’s Better Business Bureau page. Members of American Automobile Association (AAA) are able to search for a ASE-certified garage, or choose a mechanic who is recommended by the insurance company. The mechanic you choose to hire must have been certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). An alternative is to employ an established national company that specializes in used-car inspections for example, Alliance Inspection Management, Carchex and Inspect My Ride. You can request a portable inspection. Inspections are typically done in a garage or shop, but there mechanics that provide mobile inspections. This is a good option for you if you’re working with a private dealer or dealer that does not permit an extended test drive. However, this route may cost more than taking the car to a shop. You’ll pay for the convenience — and it will most likely take some time for the mechanic to completely check the car. Online used car buying and inspections Online used car sellers like Carvana and Vroom offer a week during which you are able to test drive the vehicle before making a final decision on the purchase. It gives you the chance to bring it to a mechanic and have it inspected. Because most sellers on the internet don’t permit negotiation of prices, any mechanical problems identified could be sufficient to return the vehicle. If you’re buying a vehicle that is not seen online, you must make it clear you want to have it inspected by a mechanic before buying. The seller may not be happy with that — and that’s fine. There are many cars out there, and you should keep searching instead of purchasing a car that hasn’t been checked. Next steps Regardless of the kind of inspection service you select, make sure you receive an official report with photos of any areas of concern. This information will help when you are negotiating to purchase a pre-owned car should you decide to move forward with the deal. Find out more


Written by Personal and business Finance Contributor Kellye Guinan is a freelance editor and writer with more than five years of experience in personal finance. She also is an employee full-time at her local library where she helps the community gain access to information on financial literacy, in addition to other topics. Written by Rhys Subitch Edited by Auto loans editor Rhys has been editing and writing for Bankrate since late 2021. They are passionate about helping readers gain confidence to control their finances with concise, well-researched and well-researched content that break down complex subjects into bite-sized pieces.

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