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 smarter financial decisions by offering you interactive financial calculators and tools that provide objective and original content. We also allow users to conduct research and compare data for free – so that you can make financial decisions with confidence. Bankrate has agreements with issuers, including but not limited to American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citi and Discover. How We Earn Money The offers that appear on this website are provided by companies that pay us. This compensation may impact how and when products are featured on the site, such as for instance, the order in which they appear within the listing categories in the event that they are not permitted by law for our loans, mortgages, and other products for home loans. However, this compensation will have no impact on the information we publish, or the reviews that appear on this website. We do not contain the vast array of companies or financial offerings that could be available to you. SHARE: sinology/Getty Images
3 min read published May 12, 2022
Writer: Kellye Guinan. Written by Personal and Business Finance contributor Kellye Guinan is a freelance editor and journalist with more than five years of experience in personal financial planning. She also is an employee full-time at her local library where she helps her community access information about financial literacy, as well as other topics. The article was edited 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 the confidence to take control of their finances by providing clear, well-researched information that breaks down complex topics into manageable bites. The Bankrate promise
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We receive compensation for the placement of sponsored products and, services, or when you click on certain links posted on our site. This compensation could influence the manner, place and in what order items appear within listing categories in the event that they are not permitted by law for our mortgage, home equity and other home loan products. Other elements, such as our own website rules and whether a product is offered in your area or at your personal credit score can also impact how and when products are featured on this website. We strive to offer a wide range offers, Bankrate does not include details about each credit or financial products or services. Car history reports can be a useful guide when researching used cars, but when you’re buying a new car, an inspection is key. You should consult an outside mechanic who is not connected to the seller to determine potential problem areas. Reputable dealers should allow this to be a part of the buying process, and you may be able to request a mobile inspection if a private seller is reluctant to drive to an unknown mechanic. Be sure that your mechanic is certified and reliable to ensure that you’re not signing on for repairs in the near future. Why getting an inspection is key to the used car buying process. A pre-purchase inspection can provide you with information about the cosmetic and mechanical condition of the car. This will not only aid in identifying potential problems and issues, but it can also give you the ability to back out of buying if the car doesn’t meet your needs. When you schedule an inspection, request the details of the scope of the inspection as well as what the mechanic will be looking for. You should receive a thorough list, including reviewing the exterior and interior for damage and wear. The mechanic should also examine the operation of each of the car’s features and all fluid levels. Look for a mechanic who can assess the engine, steering and suspension, as well as any signs of prior accidents or water damage. You should also employ an instrument to read codes for any error codes that could indicate the existence of a problem. If they spot any, you should ask the seller for a receipt for a corresponding repair. When you’ve received a report, you’ll have the ability to negotiate to negotiate a better deal or find a different vehicle. It might take more time, but it could save you thousands of dollars in repairs if you are able to spot a problem before it becomes an issue. When is the best time to have your used car inspected You should delay an inspection that is official until you are sure about the . This includes negotiating the price, test driving the vehicle and conducting your own inspection first. Once you’re positive this is the car that you would like, arrange for an auto mechanic on the move to meet you or collaborate with the seller to take the car to a trusted repair shop. A pre-purchase inspection is the final step before closing the deal. In the end, you don’t want to spend money for a car that you will not buy. What is the cost of an inspection? A check-up can cost anywhere from $100 to $150, based on . But the actual cost will differ based on the experience of your mechanic, the age of the vehicle and known issues. Your mechanic should offer a price prior to you bring the used car to. Just like taxes and charges, don’t tuck the cost of this into the loan. Plan for a used car inspection separately , and do not schedule it until you have narrowed down your options to one vehicle in good condition. There’s always a chance you’ll not want to purchase the vehicle, but putting off the inspection until a negotiation in the last minute will help you avoid spending money. Where to get a used car inspected Ideally, an inspection should be performed by a mechanic you already have a relationship with. Most private auto body and repair shops conduct inspections on cars that are used. However, if your mechanic does not offer a referral, ask for an establishment that can do. If you don’t have a mechanic you trust Find local mechanics who are not affiliated with dealerships that have good customer reviews. Reviews can be found on the shop’s Better Business Bureau page. Members of American Automobile Association (AAA) are able to search for a ASE-certified garage, or you can visit a mechanic recommended by your insurance company. Any mechanic you hire should be certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). An alternative is to employ an international company that is specialized in inspections of used cars, such as Alliance Inspection Management, Carchex and Inspect My Ride. Ask for a vehicle inspection Inspections are typically done at a shop or garage however there mechanics that provide mobile inspections. This could be more convenient for you if you’re working with a private seller or dealer who doesn’t allow you to take an extended test drive. However, this route may cost more than taking the vehicle to a mechanic. The convenience will cost you and it’ll most likely take a few hours in order for the repairman to completely inspect the vehicle. Online used car buying and inspections Used car dealers such as Carvana and Vroom offer a week in which you can try the car out before making a final decision on the purchase. This allows you to take the vehicle to your mechanic and have it examined. Because most sellers on the internet don’t allow negotiation on price, any mechanical issues discovered may be enough reason to take the vehicle back. If you’re buying a vehicle in person from a private seller online, you must make it clear you’d like to have it inspected by a mechanic before buying. The seller might not be happy with that — and that’s fine. There are plenty of cars out there, and you should continue to search instead of buying a vehicle which hasn’t been examined. Next steps Regardless of the kind of inspection services you select, make sure you receive a written report and photos of any concerns. This documentation will be helpful in negotiations to purchase a pre-owned car should you decide to move ahead with the purchase. Learn more
Written by Business and personal Finance contributor Kellye Guinan is a freelance editor and writer who has more than five years ‘ experience within personal financial planning. She is also a full-time worker at her local library, helping her community access information about financial literacy, as well as other subjects. The article was edited by Rhys Subitch Edited by Auto loans editor Rhys has been writing and editing for Bankrate since the end of 2021. They are committed to helping readers gain confidence to manage their finances with clear, well-researched information that breaks down complicated topics into manageable bites.
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