No Short Cut: Get That Used Car Inspected Before Buying!
21 Sep 2016
It’s a part of the car-buying process that is more often neglected or passed over than any other: getting the used car you’re thinking of buying inspected by an independent service centre before you hand over payment. And yet, it may be the single most important step you can take to ensure you don’t end up regretting your purchase.
It’s easy to see why consumers are tempted to forego this time-consuming process. You like the car, you’ve tried it out, the seller seems genuine and trustworthy. Why waste a day for a costly inspection that likely won’t turn up anything you don’t already know?
Well, it turns out there are several good reasons why you should “waste” that day.
Trust But Verify
Most sellers are genuinely pretty honest, and will tell you what they know regarding issues, prior accidents, etc. But in many cases, they may themselves not know about some little or not-so-little problem. An inspection will find that. And of course, “some” sellers does not mean “all” sellers. It only makes sense to beware and look out for your own interests.
Insisting on an independent inspection will reveal the seller’s attitude about the car and the sale. As in, if they don’t want you to have it inspected, there’s likely a reason. That red flag is very instructive, and can save you plenty.
Choose an Independent, Qualified, Well-Equipped Inspector
There is little point in taking the word of a inspection mechanic called in by the seller; that just leaves too many doors open to collusion. Nor can you simply count on your own expertise in cars and auto mechanics to catch something that may impact your decision regarding purchase. An independent mechanic at a well-equipped centre can put the car up on a lift and check places likely to be the source of leaks, corrosion and breakdown. If possible, the mechanic and/or the service centre should be one with which you have already developed a relationship. They want to see you come back with that car for service, after all.
The cost of inspection can vary from place to place but generally you can expect to pay around $100. The better service centres will let you know ahead of time just what you’re getting for that money, i.e. what components and systems are verified, what kind of guarantee there is, etc. At the end of it, you’ll receive a report detailing whether the car was accidented, repainted or belonged to a smoker, verifying what options are present, and most importantly identifying any engine, frame or body problems that need to fixed.
With this in hand you can go ahead with the purchase, negotiate a lower price based on needed repairs, or simply walk away if you don’t feel comfortable with acquiring the car. In which case, you‘ve likely just saved yourself a ton of hassle – and money!