Get an inspection before buying a used car Advertiser Disclosure Advertiser Disclosure We are an independent, advertising-supported comparison service. Our goal is to help you make better financial choices by offering you interactive tools and financial calculators as well as publishing original and impartial content, by enabling users to conduct research and analyze information for no cost and help you make informed 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 deals that are displayed on this website come from companies that compensate us. This compensation can affect the way and when products are featured on this website, for example for instance, the order in which they be listed within the categories of listing, except where prohibited by law. Our loan products, such as mortgages and home equity, and other home lending products. However, this compensation will not influence the information we provide, or the reviews that you read on this site. We do not contain the universe of companies or financial offers that may be available to you. SHARE: sinology/Getty Images

3 min read published May 12 2022

Kellye Guinan 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. She also is a full-time worker at her local library where she helps people in her community gain access to information on financial literacy, among other subjects. Written 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 take control of their finances with clear, well-researched facts that break down complicated topics into bite-sized pieces. The Bankrate promises

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You have money questions. Bankrate can help. Our experts have been helping you master your money for over four decades. We continually strive to provide our readers with the professional guidance and the tools necessary to make it through life’s financial journey. Bankrate adheres to strict standards standard of conduct, so you can rest assured that our content is truthful and precise. Our award-winning editors, reporters and editors produce honest and reliable content to help you make the best financial decisions. Our content produced by our editorial team is objective, truthful and uninfluenced from our advertising. We’re honest about the ways we’re able to bring quality content, competitive rates and useful tools for you , by describing how we make money. is an independent, advertising-supported publisher and comparison service. We are compensated in exchange for the promotion of sponsored goods and, services, or when you click on specific links on our site. Therefore, this compensation may influence the manner, place 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 home loan products. Other factors, such as our own proprietary website rules and whether the product is offered in your area or at your own personal credit score may also influence how and where products appear on this site. While we strive to provide the most diverse selection of products, Bankrate does not include information about each credit or financial item or product. Car history reports can be helpful when you’re researching used cars, but when you’re , the need for an inspection is crucial. Engage an outside mechanic, not connected to the seller — to determine potential problem areas. Trustworthy dealers will allow this as part of the buying process. You may also be able to arrange an inspection on the spot if a private seller is reluctant to drive to an unknown mechanic. Be sure that your mechanic is certified and trustworthy to ensure you don’t have to pay for repairs in the future. Why getting an inspection is key in the purchase process. A pre-purchase inspection can provide you with information about the physical and cosmetic condition of the car. It will also assist in identifying any potential issues and issues, but it can also provide you with the option to cancel buying if the vehicle isn’t up to your standards. If you are scheduled for an inspection, ask for an explanation of exactly the scope of the inspection as well as exactly what your mechanic is looking for. The mechanic should provide you with a comprehensive report, which will include a thorough examination of the interior and exterior for wear and damage. The mechanic will also inspect the functioning of all the car’s features and all fluid levels. You should find an expert mechanic who can evaluate the steering, engine suspension, frame, and suspension and also look for signs of previous water damage or accidents. You should also employ an instrument to read codes for any error codes that could indicate an issue. If they spot any, you should ask the seller for a receipt for a corresponding repair. If you’ve got a written report, you’ll have the ability to negotiate to a better price or find a different vehicle. It could take longer but it could save you thousands in repairs if you are able to detect a problem prior to it becomes an issue. When should you have the used vehicle inspected? You should delay an inspection that is official until you are sure of the . This could mean negotiating the cost as well as driving the vehicle and conducting your own inspection first. Once you’re positive this is the car you are looking for, set up a mobile mechanic to come meet you or collaborate with the seller in order to bring the vehicle into a trusted repair shop. A pre-purchase inspection should be the last step to finalizing the deal. In the end, you don’t want to pay on a vehicle you’ll never end up buying. How much will an inspection cost? An inspection will likely cost between $100 and $150, according to . But the actual cost will differ based on the expertise of your mechanic, the age of the car and the underlying problems. Your mechanic should offer a price prior to you bring the car to. Like taxes and charges, don’t tuck this expense into your loan. Budget for a used car inspection on its own — and do not schedule it until you have narrowed down your selection to a single car that is in good shape. There’s always a chance you’ll never want to buy the car but saving the inspection until a negotiation in the last minute will help you avoid spending money. Where can you inspect a car that is used In the ideal scenario, an inspection must be performed by a mechanic with whom you already have a good working relationship with. Most independent auto repair and body shops inspect used vehicles. But if your mechanic doesn’t, request a referral to an establishment that can do. If you don’t already have a trusted mechanic Find local mechanics that aren’t associated with dealerships who have positive reviews from customers. You can find reviews on the shop’s Better Business Bureau page. Members of American Automobile Association (AAA) can look for a certified garage, or you can go to a recommended mechanic by the insurance company. Any mechanic you employ should get certified through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). Another option is to hire a national firm specializing in car inspections for used vehicles like Alliance Inspection Management, Carchex and Inspect My Ride. You can request a portable inspection. Inspections are typically done in a garage or shop however there mechanics who offer mobile inspections. This could be more convenient when you’re dealing with a private dealer or dealer who does not permit an extensive test ride. However, this method could be more costly than bringing the vehicle to a mechanic. You’ll pay for the convenience — and it will probably take some time in order for the repairman to fully inspect the vehicle. The internet is a great place to buy used cars and inspections Used car dealers such as Carvana and Vroom offer a week during which you are able to try the car out before making a final decision on the purchase. This gives you the opportunity to take it to your mechanic to have it checked. Because the majority of online sellers do not allow you to negotiate prices, any mechanical problems found could be enough to have the vehicle returned. If you’re purchasing a car that is not seen online, make it clear that you want to have it examined by a mechanic prior to making a purchase. The seller may not be okay with that — but that’s fine. There are plenty of cars available, and you should continue to search rather than buying a car which hasn’t been examined. Next steps Regardless of the type of inspection and inspection services you select ensure that you get a written report and photos of any concerns. The report will prove helpful when you are negotiating to purchase a pre-owned car if you decide to move forward with the deal. Learn more


Written by Personal and business financial contributor Kellye Guinan is a freelance editor and writer with over five years ‘ experience within personal financial planning. She’s also an employee full-time at her local library, where she assists the community gain access to information on financial literacy, among other subjects. Edited by Rhys Subitch Edited by Auto loans editor Rhys has been writing and editing for Bankrate since late 2021. They are dedicated to helping readers gain confidence to manage their finances with clear, well-researched information that break down complex topics into digestible chunks.

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