How to get a used car inspection

So it sounds as if having an inspection done on a used vehicle before purchasing is a must. How do I do this? For example, I like a used car on a dealer lot. Do I have that dealer inspect it (conflict of interest), move the car to another lot for inspection, bring a mechanic with me to the seller lot etc… Would they let me drive the car off the lot to another mechanic to inspect it for part of a day?

Should be an evaluation independent of the seller. Ask the seller and arrange for the mechanic to inspect by appointment, if possible, beforehand. If the seller balks, walk.

So does that mean the dealer sends it to the independent’s shop? As in, I have the seller make the arrangements with the inspecting mechanic?

Jayhawkroy has the right idea. An inspection by the seller, whoever that may be, is totally worthless to you. You need an independent (or your chosen inspector).

Of course I may be misunderstanding. If you are talking about a possible mandated (mandated by the State) inspection? That would depend on the local authorities.

First, narrow down to a couple of cars on your prospective purchase list. Take the car you may purchase for a test drive. On the test drive, go to the independent shop where you have arranged for the mechanic to inspect the car. Plan to pay $100 or so for a thorough inspection. The dealer selling the car will not do this for you.
If the dealer balks at having the car inspected, walk away. There are plenty of cars for sale.

I understand. THANKS

I agree with jayhawkroy. Keep in mind that an inspection by even the best of mechanics does not guarantee that you will buy a car that will not suffer a problem, or even multiple problems. It does increase your chances of getting a better car though.

One sticky area is a compression test, which used to be the main requirement before buying a car. With the use of aluminum cylinder heads, spark plugs being left in place forever, and deep well spark plug holes many sellers may balk at having the plugs removed to run a compression test. This is understandable as spark plug threads may strip out due to frozen plugs, plug wires or COPS may be damaged during removal, etc.

At a minimum ask that a vacuum gauge be connected to an intake manifold fitting or vacuum source. This only takes seconds and can be a good indicator of an engine’s health. What’s sad is that many mechanics do not use this valuable tool or know how to interpret the reading.

The reading will vary based on engine wear, altitude, barometric pressure, type of vehicle, etc but normally you should see about 17"-20" inches of vacuum at idle and the needle should be rock steady. When the engine is revved quickly and the accelerator released one should see the needle drop to 0 instantly and return to the original reading just as quickly. Any abnormalities are open to interpretation.