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Pre-Purchase Vehicle Inspections

No used car vehicle purchase should be carried out without a thorough vehicle inspection. No matter how much you think you know about cars, a quick test drive and a look under the hood doesn’t quite determine whether or not what you’re buying is a quality used car.

Yet, this is often a step that is missed in the purchasing process. Why?

There are three main reasons:

  1. Many people don’t know that used car inspections are available.
  2. Many people don’t want to fork over extra money for an inspection.
  3. Many people think the dealer won’t take kindly to a professional inspection.

But the fact is that car inspections are readily available, they’re often fast, easy and don’t cost a lot of money and if the seller or dealer refuses, well then you probably just want to walk away from the car regardless. Think about it – a seller or dealer who knows a car has problems isn’t going to want you to get a professional to check it out.

So here are the steps we recommend taking regarding getting a professional inspection on a used car:

  • Before you schedule the inspection, be sure to pull the car’s Carfax report and also check to see if the car was recalled at any point. The information that the Carfax report details might be enough for you to step away from the sale right then and there. And if the car has been recalled, be sure to ask for proof from the seller that such repairs were made. If they haven’t, or if the vehicle history report reveals something that the seller or dealer hasn’t been open with you about, proceed with extra caution, if at all. If all goes well, however, then it’s time to proceed to the next step.
  • Schedule an appointment to have a professional mobile mechanic meet you at the dealership or wherever the car is being sold: Don’t take the seller or dealer’s word that everything is running and working well – get a professional, third-party opinion. Take the car to a mechanic who you trust and perhaps have developed a good working relationship with. In addition to a multi-point inspection, you should be sure the mechanic drives the car in a variety of different settings, such as over hills, on the highway and in bumpy and stop-and-go conditions. This way, the mechanic can give you an accurate analysis of how the car performs in a variety of settings.
  • If everything checks out OK, then proceed with the sale as planned. However, if something turns up in the inspection, you have a few different options. You can either renegotiate the price with the dealer or seller to take into considerations the repairs you’ll have to make or walk away from the deal altogether. If you’re purchasing from a dealer, you might require that any issues be fixed prior to sale.


Getting a pre-purchase inspection, if planned correctly, is cheap and hassle-free. And it should be a mandatory aspect of any used car deal you’re considering.

Justin Habersaat is the Sr. Editor of Auto Content at helps make online car buying simple and fun by providing pictures, prices and info on cars for sale in cities all over the USA, as well as articles, tips and guidance to make the car shopping process a cinch.