Get a Pre-purchase Inspection before buying a used car
One would immediately think that a Pre-purchase Inspection (PPI) is an absolute must do on a used car for sale. However, only just a few customers have used an outside neutral auto mechanic to inspect a vehicle from well over 100 automobiles we have sold at San Diego Cash For Cars. We are totally confident in stating that when buying a pre-owned vehicle across the US, Pre-purchase Inspections are at an all-time minimum. That’s not good. Ask yourself. How can one turn over hard earned cash for a car that was briefly looked under the hood and driven around the area for a short time to a stranger? Protect yourself and your money with the services of a qualified PPI professional and get a Pre-purchase Inspection before buying a used car.
What is a Pre-Purchase Inspection
A Pre-purchase Inspection is a point by point examination that grades areas of the car from bad to excellent. A PPI can typically range from 50 to 100 to 150 separate testing points of a vehicle conducted by an experienced auto mechanic. One can expect to pay around $100 to $150 depending on the inspection. The most important parts of the examination will focus primarily on the engine, drivetrain, suspension, electrical system, electronics and body to varying degrees.
For example, a typical PPI on the engine could include:
- Cooling system components
- Left, right, front, rear and torque rod engine mounts
- Left and right transmission mounts
- Valve cover gaskets
- Transmission components
- Drive belts
- Spark plugs
- Ignition wires
After the pen to clipboard inspection, a professional test drive follows to determine if anything is out of the ordinary in how the vehicle sounds, shifts, steers and drives overall. Upon completion, a line by line review is presented detailing the findings on the vehicle to the customer. The inspection report will present whether there are obvious red flags that prompt you to look for another car or enough green lights that suggest you could continue with the sale and or what you can prepare for should you still have interest. A thorough Pre-purchase Inspection can take up to about 2 hours.
A PPI Can Save You
At San Diego Cash For Cars, we run into all different types of customers that relay their troubling and similar experiences when buying a used car from us. The most memorable that come to mind is the mom with her daughter trying to get to college or the young 20 year old something parents needing to commute to work. Each and others like them have bought a car and never had it inspected beforehand by a professional. All have lost time, money, experience regret and now have to repeat the process in venturing out to get a good second hand car.
For about $100 to invest (gamble) in testing out a $3000 car equals a 3% cost. Consider this a low cost investment with a high return rate should a used vehicle you buy without a Pre-purchase inspection ends up needing costly repair shortly thereafter. A PPI can save you. Don’t you think?
What You Can Do
A PPI would be the best course of action after initially looking at a used car for sale by a private party. If you cannot get a car inspection, there are a few things you can do to help (You should do it anyways).
1) Try and get a vehicle history report on the car. This report will contain info on the car’s past history such as accidents, maintenance service (or lack thereof) and changes on ownership. Savvy car dealers always use these types of reports in the buying and selling of cars. They’re invaluable and inexpensive. You can obtain one for as little as $7 by looking online. Just know that some vehicle history reports present better than others.
2) If you are not knowledgeable about cars, please bring a qualified friend that is. This individual will already know to bring a flashlight to look at the engine thoroughly. This person might even have a portable electronic diagnostic tool handy. Your friend will have no problem going under the car to look at the frame for appearances of rust and or leaks. The beer or dinner you buy afterwards for this person will only strengthen your relationship with this person 🙂
3) Look at the car in daylight and drive it. We sometimes have interested buyers asking to come in the evening after work to look at a car for sale (and yes, we sell cars in this manner). That might be fine for a residence to check out the neighborhood, but not ideal for purchasing a vehicle. You need to be able to clearly see the exterior and interior of the car.
When you test drive go on the freeway, a hilly incline and make multiple stops and turns to try and hear how the car sounds. Driving at safe speeds around the neighborhood on straight streets does not cut it. The seller should not object, what do they have to hide right? And then from this, visibly inspect the engine for leaks.
4) Research the car you are interested in for common problems beforehand. Various reputable automobile websites will have customer reviews. Go through them. Cross compare them and other information that you find online and look for similar issues that can help you in advance of your interest.
Last Remarks On A Pre-purchase Inspection
San Diego Cash For Cars takes every precaution to sell a vehicle that we feel is safe, drivable and will provide value to our customers. Otherwise, we would not purchase a vehicle to sell thereafter. We understand that most private sellers are not car experts and therefore cannot honestly (or dishonestly) tell an interested buyer what underlying problems exist, if any. And when dealing with an independent professional used car dealer, despite what they may say, considering a PPI is strongly suggested (Remember, they are extremely good at what they do). Engage a reputable and experienced auto mechanic and get a Pre-purchase Inspection before buying a used car.