Pre purchase inspections

I am shopping for a used car and want to know if it’s ok or even an option to have a mobile mechanic run checks on a vehicle I am looking at at a dealership?
I have done this w private sellers in the past.

I seriously doubt that any dealer new or used would allow a mobile mechanic to operate on their property due to insurance liability. They might let you take it somewhere for an independent inspection.

Mobile mechanics typically do not have lifts to look at the undercarriage. I would take it to a reputable independent mechanic that specializes in the make of car. Do some Internet research or ask others who own your model. I would never buy a used car from a private party or dealer without a PPI. If they refuse, move on to another car.

What’s the point of a PPI, if the guy isn’t even going to look at the undercarriage . . . ?

That’s where you find frame rot, and evidence of poorly repaired crashes . . . !

Engine bays are so tightly packed that it is important to get a good look at the underside of the engine, transmission, and cooling system. Your traveling mechanic might do it with jacks and stands, but the lift is better.

ppi is good, state inspection may be better, depending upon state that you reside in. i.e. I am a Maryland resident. Vehicle safety inspection is required in order to be registered and tagged. Hence, the inspection is much stricter that the average ppi. Brakes and tires may look fine during ppi but fail minimum safety requirements set by the state for registration purposes. I strongly recommend that you invest in the most strict form of inspection that is available to you. It could be a genuine money saver in the long run. A reputable dealership is not afraid of being scrutinized by a reputable 2nd party inspection

I don’t see any way one could do a good prepurchase inspection without putting the car on a lift. There’s just too much to see underneath.

VolvoV70 is correct about an inspection being done on the dealer lot due to the liability issue and as mentioned, doing an inspection on the ground without a lift is bypassing the most critical part of the inspection.

I will also add that even the most thorough of inspections does not mean you will end up with a problem free ride. With used vehicles there are countless things which can fail at anytime.

Some years back I did an inspection on a roughly 12 year old car that was low miles and clean enough to be on a dealer showroom. I was actually envious they were getting the car and not me.
Six months later a gas line gave up and sprayed the distributor with raw fuel which then blazed up and turned that car into a total loss before the fire department arrived.

Six months later a gas line gave up and sprayed the distributor with raw fuel which then blazed up and turned that car into a total loss before the fire department arrived.

So you’re admitting here on a public forum that you neglected to inform a buyer of a fault with a car that resulted in a total loss and could have caused injury or death? How have you not been sued? Everyone knows that mechanics are liable for everything that goes wrong with a car after, during, and before you worked on it!

The bottom of the used vehicle maintenance inspection form we use has in bold letters: “This inspection carries no guarantee or liability!”

I’m going to disagree with the crowd on one idea here. Any mobile mechanic who is used to working mobile will have sufficient jacks and stands and creepers to access the underside of a vehicle and do a comprehensive inspection, given that there’s not 6 inches of snow or sideways rain out there.

Some mobile guys also have a home base, a small shop with a basic life that can be used for things like this.

@asemaster, the owner of that roasted Ford was pretty philosophical about it. She just looked at it as a fluke failure and were not upset at all with me. As a matter of fact, the owner continued to bring me work clean up to the time of her passing. She owned half a dozen cars and probably 30 or 40 rental properties so she was on the go all the time.

She even approached me to ask if I would be interested in taking a look at her nephew’s Fiat which had been in 3 shops over the last few months for a random dying issue which could not be resolved. They had that car towed from a 100 miles away after I agreed that it would be gap filler as I don’t have much of a desire to work on Fiats.

I understand the point about jacks and stands but I doubt that any dealer is going to allow something like that to be used on their property. The dealers I worked for would never even consider it because of the liability part.
Maybe if the prospective buyer had it done in their driveway it would be feasible.

Ase, I thought of that, but I would argue that one can get a much better look at the underside on a lift with a good worklight than one can on a creeper. You can get a fair look on a creeper, but you can see EVERYTHING on a lift.