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Pre-Purchase Inspection Tips When Buying a Used Car

You’ve taken a test drive and gotten a CARFAX report, now it’s time for the next step – a pre-purchase inspection. This inspection gives you an expert opinion on the car’s current condition. It also can help identify unreported problems that only a trained eye might catch. That’s why a pre-purchase inspection should always be performed by a trusted mechanic.

A pre-purchase inspection is a vital step when buying a used car in the used car buying process that many people unfortunately skip. It helps you determine if the car is right for you and also may give you some negotiating power if the mechanic finds some issues that need to be addressed. A good inspection might run you about $100, but is well worth the cost – it gives you added peace of mind and may save you money on unexpected repairs!

When getting a pre-purchase inspection, here are some items to make sure the mechanic checks:

Exterior: Tires, glass, lights and body condition
Under the Hood: Electrical system, heating/cooling system, radiator, hoses, belts and fluids
Vehicle Build: Structure, drive train and suspension
Safety Systems: Brakes, airbags and seatbelts

*Before buying a car, make sure you purchase a CARFAX Vehicle History Report and take a test drive along with a pre-purchase inspection to help ensure a great buy.

4 thoughts on “Pre-Purchase Inspection Tips When Buying a Used Car”

  1. The #1 reason vehicles with existing problems are purchase is the buyers’ inability to determine the true condition of the vehicle. A professional pre-purchase inspection is your best protection against buying a bad car.

    However, there is no standardization for pre-purchase inspections. Most buyers don’t know the difference between an “ASE Technician” and an “ASE Master Technician”. This difference will affect the quality and accuracy of a pre-purchase inspection.

    Differences between Automotive Technicians are explained in depth at the non-profit consumer site “UsedCarInspections.ORG”. This consumer site has helpful tips and information on how to select an automotive technician and what type of information you should receive from a pre-purchase inspection.

    Also read the problems with Carfax reports at http://www.UsedCarInspections.ORG/carfax.htm

  2. Another great option is to have a knowledgeable enthusiast check out the car for you, without asking the seller to take the vehicle to a mechanic. Someone who has restored or maintained the type of car you’re looking at will know where to look for common problems. Check out more at

  3. The truth behind buying a used car is that consumers are being duped into thinking a vehicle history report is the end all be all of the used car buying process… I am joyed that CarFax has started to come out of their pushy sales campaign about “don’t buy without a CarFax” and they have started writing articles like this one… Even with 1000’s of maintenance records to go by nothing can give you the true condition of a used car than having a qualified, certified and trained expert vehicle inspector look at the used car before you buy it… And when I say “vehicle inspection expert” I am referring to someone certified in both mechanical and structural vehicle investigation…

  4. What is the cost for a pre-inspection in Los Angeles CA at JUCY mini RV USA location in CA? If I wanted you to inspect 2 cars at the same location rather than one car, what would be the price to inspect 2 similar vehicles to obtain a report on each one to determine which might be more mechanically sound and the best of the 2 vehicles?

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