Safety Certificates & Pre-Purchase Inspections are NOT the same

We have numerous customers that come to us asking for a safety certificate and believing that if it passes the inspection, the vehicle will have no issues for the several thousand kilometres. They also feel that the safety certificate is a warranty over the vehicle. This is Incorrect!

A Safety Certificate as defined by Queensland Transport is a basic check of a vehicle across specific points at a moment in time.

This inspection is used for the buying, selling and transferring of vehicle and is not a detailed comprehensive inspection.

Don’t be confused between a Safety Certificate and a Pre-Purchase Inspection

When you are considering purchasing a vehicle don’t get stuck with a lemon because you did not have a pre-purchase inspection done first.

We have been in the automotive and inspection business for over 30 years and continue to see people very upset about their purchase. They are upset that they cannot use the car because it quickly has major faults and expensive repairs that require fixing.

How does this happen if the vehicle has a safety certificate you ask yourself? Well there are several things that a safety certificate inspection will not pick up under the Code of Practice.

For Example

Hidden Oil Leaks

Some sellers go to great lengths to degrease and potentially patch/hide oil leaks because most are expensive to fix. To properly repair oil leaks may require the removal of engine parts, gear box or another vehicle componentry. This costs time and money to fix, let alone the cost of any parts.

Under the code of practice covering safety certificates, the vehicle will fail if there is visible oil dripping from the vehicle to the ground at the time of inspection only. If the inspector cannot see oil leaks as described under the code of practice, then the vehicle will get a tick of approval for this area of inspection.

If we compare this to a pre- purchase inspection where the inspector uses his/her many years of experience to uncover potential coverups that the seller is trying.


Oil Leaks

As you have read above the safety certificate inspection has limited ability to pursue suspected hidden leaks as it is a basic inspection as set by Queensland Transport.

A pre-purchase inspection is an independent inspection conducted by a qualified mechanic with as many years’ experience as you can find.

Whilst there is a comprehensive check list of what the mechanic looks at in a pre-purchase inspection, it is the experience and knowledge of the inspector that will assist you to purchase the correct vehicle in the end.

Oil leaks are one of the great cover up items in a car. Some Sellers do their best to wash down and clean up all leaks to pass the safety certificate however experienced inspectors know this and will investigate further. This is done by taking the car on longer test drivers and running the car longer whilst inspecting which eventually will show the hidden issue.


Sniff Your Oil

I know this might sound funny but an experience mechanic like and experience Chef, can tell a lot by the smell of the product. If the oil smells burnt for example, it might mean that the service intervals have not been adhered to and the oil is old.


It could be an indication that the engine is or was prone to over heating which may have damaged the internals of the engine or may require a new cooling system. All these scenarios can result in expensive repairs.

Again, pre-purchase inspections are much more comprehensive and purchasing a vehicle without one can cost you $1000’s and create a huge amount of frustration.


Buyer Beware!

This is a saying used mainly in real estate but holds true for your second largest purchase being your car.

Pre-purchase inspections and the experience examiners that conduct them are tuned to the sounds that the vehicle is making like:


Nock! Nock!

This is never a good sound if it is coming from anywhere in the running gear or suspension of the vehicle. Pre-purchase inspections are designed to look for these things. Nocks coming from the engine will without doubt be an expensive fix. Some sellers are aware of this and can add a thicker oil to try to muffle the sound and hide it from you. An experienced pre-purchase inspector will hear the nock and investigate.

Nocks, clunks and wines are all signs of warn components which will be uncovered under the pre-purchase inspection process. Some sellers go out of their way to cover these up however you need an experience mechanic who also has many years of uncovering cover ups, to make sure you get the vehicle you paid for.


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