Buying a car is one of the biggest purchases you’ll make, so it makes sense to do as much research as possible before handing over your money. One way to ensure you’re getting not just a good deal but a reliable vehicle is to arrange a pre-purchase inspection. This one act will give you peace of mind about your purchase and help you save money overall.
Why should you get a pre-purchase inspection?
A pre-purchase inspection (PPI) is a comprehensive check of a vehicle to uncover any potential issues. PPIs vary based on the car’s make and model but usually cover essential components plus safety items. Inspectors also look for potential problems that may not be immediately obvious to the casual observer. Document the entire inspection with photos and the inspector’s findings for your records.
Not every vehicle purchase requires an inspection. Brand new vehicles are protected by warranty and typically have few issues. On the other hand, used cars can have many hidden problems. Classic or vintage cars need particular attention not only because of their age but also because their rarity often makes them significant investments.
A qualified inspector should perform your PPI. Your favorite mechanic may be great at repairing vehicles but untrained in conducting detailed assessments. A do-it-yourself inspection is not much better if you don’t know much about cars or, worse, are so excited that you miss significant red flags. Doing your own inspection is especially risky if you have never bought a vehicle before.
For example, do you know why you should investigate fresh paint on a relatively new vehicle? Modern vehicles don’t need paint jobs unless the body has been abused or damaged. Fresh paint often conceals damage that could bring down the car’s value. An untrained eye could easily miss this point. As a result, you could end up paying too much or, worse, buying a defective vehicle.
What’s in a PPI?
When performed correctly, an inspection may last anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours and should include a test drive. The inspector will look at several principal areas of interest, and the inspection checklist may consist of 150 or more individual items such as the following:
- Tires: wear patterns, tread life, spare tire.
- Engine: no leaks, no unusual noises, battery and belts in good condition, no error codes.
- Brakes: vehicle stops straight and does not pull to one side; wheels do not lock.
- Suspension: ride quality over bumps is acceptable; vehicle rests in a level stance.
- Exterior: no dents or hidden bodywork, windshield wipers function, lights illuminate.
- Steering and handling: resistance in the steering wheel, noises in the steering column.
- Transmission: slipping, poor shifting, leaks.
Sometimes people buy a vehicle without inspecting it. For example, the seller may not allow the vehicle to go on more than a short test drive. However, that doesn’t mean missing the opportunity to check for trouble. A post-purchase inspection can give you an idea of potential issues. These inspections are often more thorough than the pre-purchase variety. As a result, you can repair any problems before they worsen or you end up stranded. If your car came with a warranty, that contract might cover needed repairs, so be sure to pay attention to the fine print.
Worth the price
Because it’s so easy to make an expensive mistake when buying a car, think of the pre-purchase inspection as a form of insurance. While the cost can range from $50 to $300 depending on the vehicle, a PPI is a small price to pay for peace of mind. Not only can it give you the leverage to negotiate a better price, but it can also help you avoid thousands of dollars in future repairs.
In Auto Market of Florida, a used car dealership, we specialize in qualitative pre-purchase and post-purchase inspections. Contact us today to get the perfect vehicle for your next outdoor sporting event.