How Long does a Pre-Purchase Inspection Take?

Pre -Purchase inspections are a comprehensive inspection of the total vehicle, it’s structure and operation.


The Pre-purchase inspection covers but is not limited to

  • Engine
  • Clutch/Gearbox
  • Brakes
  • Transmission
  • Steering
  • Suspension
  • Electricals
  • Exhaust System
  • Drive Shaft
  • Heater/Air conditioner
  • Seatbelts
  • Underbody
  • Body
  • Accessories Fitted
  • Boot
  • Road Test
  • Interior

In order for an experienced inspector to meticulously go through every item on the checklist, it will take as long as it takes depending on the vehicle and the condition at the time. The aim of a pre-purchase inspection is to ensure the car, truck, trailer of motorbike you would like to purchase is fully investigated for its current and future condition to ensure that it is not a lemon.

Unlike a safety certificate which is a basic inspection, a pre-purchase inspection is detailed, and the inspector is trained and experienced in looking out for hidden issues that over time could be costly.

Depending on what is uncovered will depend on the time the inspector will spend investigating items under the pre-purchase inspection. Warning lights will require the application of scan tools to free up codes displayed. Clearing codes once is not always the end of an issue and the vehicle will need to be road tested again or at the very least run for enough time to ensure the warning light does not re-occur.

Investigating electrical issues or air-conditioning faults can be very time consuming however these can be very expensive to fix and it is an important part of the pre-purchase inspection. Chasing wiring faults in engine bays and under dashes is difficult in terms of space and the numerous locations that could have a broken wire, fuse or relay.

Engine oil leak diagnoses under a pre-purchase inspection also require full investigation and can be difficult. Dripping oil can start anywhere and can snake through various valleys and around and through various parts before being visible. It is the job of the inspector conducting the pre-purchase inspection to analyze the point of origin and determine the severity of the leak and the approximate cost to fix the issue. Some vehicles are more difficult than others as they may have numerous cowlings protecting motor components that are time-consuming to remove if required. No Matter what the experience level of the inspector conducting the pre-purchase inspection, sometimes it simply is difficult to put a length of time of these types of inspections.

On the opposite side of the coin, some inspections take 5-10 minutes as the car is in such poor condition that the inspector simply walks away and recommends to the potential purchaser not to proceed. When conducting a pre-purchase inspection, the inspector can quickly ascertain the cost of repairs both urgent and long term against the cost of the vehicle or the purchasers budget and recommend if the car is suitable or a lemon. There is no set time set to complete a pre-purchase inspection because you want the inspector to take his/her time to investigate your potential purchase thoroughly and provide you with informative reports so that you can make the right decision.

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