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Buying without mechanic's inspection

I’m in the market for a used Nissan Leaf, but the nearest ones are 60 miles from my home and are sold by Carvana and CarGuru. I would normally have a used car checked out by a mechanic before buying, but because of the distance, this isn’t an option. How do I make sure the car is reliable when buying from this kind of seller? Do I need to go with Certified only?

NO,NO,NO! Bring the car for an inspection even if its a so called certified vehicule. If they ignore your request,take your business elsewhere.

Check around for a mechanic near the car dealer, The Mechanics files tab above might give you a lead. If not drive around the neighborhood and look for an independent shop. Do not go to a chain. A car from a dealer that is far from you screams the need for a pre inspection.

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I’d go with a local inspection too. Go drive the car to see if you like it first. Don’t worry about the car selling befor you get an inspection. The Leaf has big depreciation, and that has to indicate it sells slowly as a used car. When you call ahead to arrange the visit, make sure they know you are bringing an electric car in and that the inspector is comfortable with that.

You can’t. And the seller knows it. Your chances of the vehicle having one or more serious problems is high. I strongly recommend against buying any vehicle that you can’t test drive, inspect yourself, and have checked out by your own mechanic.

While the Leaf might be just fine the question is will you have local support. These are not vehicles that all repair shops have experience with. 60 miles away is not far, see if their is a Nissan dealer close to vehicles and call about having the one you like best inspected.

I’ll confess I’ve not had a pre-purchase inspection done on the past several used cars I’ve bought. Based on my own experiences, and largely the knowledge I’ve gained from this website over the years, I’ve felt confident looking for various issues myself. So far it’s served me well, or I’ve just been lucky. I do appreciate the value, though.

However, in your case, admitting you don’t know enough to judge it yourself, I’d definitely find someone to check it out locally. Good luck.

Actually do as I say not as I do. I normally don’t have an inspection but then expect to have a shake out phase to correct everything after buying it. Can’t say as I really got terribly burned depending on the age of the car. As a kid I did have an Olds inspected and the guy saved my bacon. The thing was a piece of junk. Now obvious engine problems or trans problems can be detected. On my Rivs I was able to check for fault codes on the CRT and knew one had a trouble code at the start. On an older car I just expect things like brakes, hoses, tires, coolant, etc. will need to be done. On a newer car I don’t expect any big issues but usually it comes with a 30 or 90 day warranty for anything big. So I guess if its newer, I’d look for a warranty and if not take it some place local or takes your chances if you want. The bigger thing is if you can determine why it was traded in the first place. For me a current year rental return with 30K on was obvious. Rental companies dump cars as soon as the warranty is up. Likewise a two year old car with 70K on it from a salesman is pretty obvious. But a one year old car with 10K on it might be a red flag.

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Having a car inspected by a mechanic is a must for someone who has no mechanical knowledge.

However, you should keep this is mind. There is not a mechanic on the face of this Earth who can tell you whether or not a used car is going to be reliable. They may determine any current needs but that is not the same as telling you the car is going to be reliable.

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