Selecting A Pre-Purchase Inspection Company

When buying a second hand or used car, you need to leave your emotions behind and buy a car using all the knowledge and information you can gather. So, unless you are a mechanic or have a strong mechanical / automotive background, you need the assistance of an expert. You need a comprehensive pre- purchase inspection carried out by an experienced mechanic.

Cheap is not Best!

You are just about to hand over thousands or potentially tens of thousands of dollars and you know very little about the car except it looks good, you’ve always wanted one, it seems to run and drive well, and it meets your price bracket.

Today’s cars are complex computerised pieces of machinery which need constant maintenance and care, or they will breakdown. When I say maintenance I mean maintenance history and ongoing maintenance after you purchase the car. Maintenance History is a key check point for the Pre-Purchase Inspection. One of the first things an inspector will check is that the service history manual is completed and up to date. In saying that, anyone can try to fudge their service manual by changing pens and signing the document using their left hand or having someone else scribble in it. What people can’t fudge for example is a stamped logbook. A neat and clean business stamp from multiple companies with a signature to match. Experienced Pre-Purchase inspection mechanics are awake up to the tricks of the seller and pick up on these things quickly.

There are numerous other faults and issues the seller will try to hide that the experienced pre-purchase inspector will uncover as he completes the inspection. Sellers think that they have hidden rust, water damage etc but they normally fall short and leave tell tail signs for the inspector to uncover.

Pre -purchase inspections are a must and are highly recommended by all the country’s Automotive clubs including RACQ, NRMA, RACV, RACW and all motor vehicle insurance companies. Like the Automotive clubs, financial institutions also look favourably on Pre-purchase inspections. There is no advantage to anyone except the seller to sell a lemon. Lots of sellers are trying to pass on faults that are too costly to fix, or they are simply not wanting to fix, so selling is their answer out of a problem.


Experience Counts When It Comes to a Pre-purchase Vehicle Inspection?

A pre-purchase car inspection is an independent service that evaluates the overall condition of a vehicle. A basic level inspection will check over the body and paint work to identify any structural or cosmetic damage, while a full inspection adds in an inspection of the chassis and mechanical work to check everything is in full working order.
A pre-purchase car inspection must be carried out by an experienced qualified mechanic before you make a final decision on whether to purchase a used car or not. Experience is the KEY here. It is important to ask if the mechanic being sent to the job has experience servicing or repairing the vehicle he is being asked to inspect. If your pre purchase mechanic has spent the last 5 years working at a Mazda dealership and is now being asked to check a European car, does he know the design and manuring faults that may come with that particular model? “Unlikely”
When selecting the right Pre-purchase inspection company, it is not about how cheap you can get the inspection, it SHOULD be about how experienced the inspectors are. Saving $50 or $150 on a pre-purchase inspection a have the wrong mechanic inspecting your vehicle is a waste of your money. You’re paying good money for a pre-purchase inspection, ask questions about the inspector allocated to conduct your inspection. If mistakes are made due to inexperience it could be costly. If you are buying from a dealership, the car dealer may provide you with the results of an inspection report during the sales process. My recommendation is to organise your own or as a minimum, investigate who did the inspection and what is their experience and qualifications.

At the same time as you are checking the experience of the pre-purchase inspector who is conducting your vehicle inspection, it is important to understand what the inspector is checking. The pre purchase inspection company should be providing you with a comprehensive electronic and photographic report that clearly identifies all the good and bad points of the vehicle. This should be followed up by a detailed discussion by the Pre-purchase inspector who will provide and unbiased recommendation on the vehicles condition and future maintenance requirements.


Vehicle History Reports are A Must

Before engaging a pre-purchase inspection company, you must conduct your own vehicle history report & PPSR report. These are simple but a vital piece of the puzzle when purchasing a used car. Not only do they tell you if money is owing on the vehicle, they can see if the odometer has been changed, the car has been in accidents or written off, all from spending as little as $20-$40.To do so you will require the vehicles VIN (vehicle Identification number)

A vehicle History report is not a Pre-purchase inspection report. Both are a must but not the same. Whilst the pre-purchase inspection looks into the mechanical maintenance and history of a vehicle to determine the medium to long term viability of the vehicle, the vehicle history report, cleans up any questions you may have about the vehicles past. Together they provide a better picture of the suitability of the vehicle.

What to Expect in your PrePurchase Inspection Report

A pre-purchase inspection usually checks most aspects of a vehicle, including the exterior and interior, as well as the engine bay, wheels and tyres, brakes, and suspension. After an under bonnet check the vehicle will be taken for a road test and depending on what this uncovers, will determine the length of the test. If a car is hot when the inspector turns up to do the pre-purchase inspection. The inspector will either wait for it to cool or reschedule the appointment. This is a seller’s old trick to hide engine noise which will be at its loudest when cold. Fresh coolant in the reservoir bottle also shows they have done a quick bit a patching in the hope the car does not run hot. Over spray on or under the body or engine bay is a flashing light to the pre-purchase inspection mechanic. Carpets, people hiding water damage or rust never think to clean or repair under carpets in the car or boot. A quick check here can unveil a myriad of problems.

If you are buying from a dealership, by law they must provide you with a limited used car warranty. You may want to check what exactly this warranty covers and if you need any further tests or repairs done to the vehicle, try and get them finalised within the timeframe of the warranty.

Don’t Buy a Car Without a Pre-Purchase Inspection!

Buying the right used car is a difficult task if your background and experience is not cars. I have been in the automotive industry for over 30 years, and I will always us an experienced mechanic to go over the car to ensure I go into the purchase with my eyes wide open and as informed as I can be. The asking prices on cars are a wish list or a fishing expedition to see what the market will offer and who has done their homework. The person who has done all the checks, negotiated with the seller because they have found some hidden repairs and have used the Pre-purchase report are going to drive away happy with a solid informed purchase. For those who run the gauntlet and don’t do the pre-purchase inspection and other checks will eventually suffer buyer’s remorse with expensive breakdown issues or worse.


Where Can I Go For a Pre-Purchase Car Inspection?

Pre -Purchase inspections are readily available from the state Based Automotive Clubs Like the RACQ NRMA etc. They are also available from most Automotive chains and major mobile mechanics.

Whilst they are readily available it still requires homework on behalf of the buyer to seek out the best company and most experienced mechanic for your job.

How Much Does a Pre-Purchase Car Inspection Cost?

As a general guide, prices range from $100 – $400, depending on the type of car to be inspected. NRMA members can get an inspection of a standard car from $270 ($300 for non-members) while a specialist vehicle or anything older than 10 years starts from $360 for members ($400 non-members). Mobile Inspections offer a great solution to inspections at caryards and auction sites. They are also extremely convenient for the private seller who does not have to go to a workshop or hand the keys over to someone to drive off and get it inspected at a workshop. By and large Pre-purchase inspections are the same price whether mobile or in a workshop. Qualified and experienced mobile mechanics will do all the same checks as a workshop, remember it is about matching an experienced mechanic to your car.

Just remember, your car is second hand and needs to be insured before you go driving home. If it is late in the evening maybe look at a cover note and complete the rest of the insurance the following day.

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