Used car purchase / Pre-inspection

If a 2 year old used car still has say 8 months on the original 36 month warranty… would you still get a pre-inspection by mechanic prior to purchase?

Yep. Warranties don’t cover abuses by owners. For example, if the oil hasn’t been changed for two years it would be worth finding that out.

The easy answer is yes, because it could be insurance against abuse by the previous owner.

A more complete way of evaluating the car is to check background information. You should do this anyway. Who is selling the car? Is there any paperwork that leads you to believe the maintenance was done? If there are records that indicate the car was cared for properly, maybe you don’t need the extra insurance of the prepurchase inspection. I bought a 2010 car in 2012 with 14,000 miles on it. There were service listings every few thousand miles on the CarFax at similar time intervals. I called the dealer that did the work and asked what the service terms meant. I concluded that the owner just didn’t put on a lot of miles and did not get a prepurchase inspection. The car has had no repairs in the last 3 years that we owned it.

Yes. It’s probably the best money you will ever spend when buying a used vehicle.


Here’s something nobody has mentioned yet . . . accidents

If the car has been hammered and repaired, the mechanic doing the inspection will hopefully recognize a substandard repair

And even if he sees evidence of a good repair, it’s better to know before throwing down your money

No offense to any body shop guys reading this, but in my years as a pro, I’ve always been able to tell when a car had been in an accident, in the past. To be fair, the good repairs were harder to spot. In my opinion, unless the body shop does Pebble Beach level work, you won’t be able to erase all signs of the accident 100%. The telltale signs are often stickers on components. If the date code on a sticker is newer than the car’s production date, you should dig a little deeper. If the plastic fender liners on the right front are less faded than the left front. Overspray where there should be none, for example

And if the owner doesn’t mention an accident, but the mechanic recognizes that a good repair was done, you should be able to negotiate a better price. Provided the repair really is good, and the car is in good general condition

Needless to say, if the mechanic recognizes a substandard repair, walk away. There’s plenty of other cars out there.

It depends on how many miles are on the car. If it’s a low mile car and the service history shows some routine maintenance, I would pass. But then I’m a gambling kind of guy.

Another thing to remember…if the CarFax history shows any accidents or major repairs, believe it. If the CarFax shows no accidents or major repairs, don’t believe it. All CarFax reporting is voluntary.

I can drive my car into a tree one night, tow it home, spend the next 3 weekends patching it up with my brother using junkyard parts, and it will never show up on CarFax.

My daughter thought she should sell her car, I asked why. She said it needs brakes tires etc. What are you going to buy? I was looking at a used Jetta. Would you sell your car if it did not need anything? Hell no she says. So I think you are better off putting the money into your car instead of buying someone elses problems.
Yes I think a pre inspection by an independent mechanic is money well spent. Some things may not show up in an inspection, make sure everything works, and take it for a long test drive including highway miles.
What is the mileage, does it need brakes, tires, timing belt, fluid changes etc.? Might be over a grand for regular maintenance items.

I would. It’s cheap insurance, usually only costs around $100.

For the primary reason of checking for body damage. Check the carfax too.

Don’t buy anything with body damage, it haunts you elderly years no matter how good it was repaired. I am dealing with two body repairs 4 years down the line but thankfully insurance company guaranteed them since I used there shop. No idea how it will come out but they are getting repaired as paint is bubbling up at old repair.

On a two year old car, db’s point about possible accidents is perhaps the biggest reason to get it checked. A car that new is not back on the market for nothing.

A neighbor of mine got a “great deal” on a very late model used car, and every time he went over a bump it creaked. He took it to get checked and found out that half of the rear end was riveted on. There was lots of evidence of a major accident and do-it-yourself cosmetic repairs.

Does anyone have a list/checklist of what should be checked by a mechanic on a pre-purchase inspection?

Lets start a list, Brake pad wear, condition of fluids, timing belt mileage before replacement, tire tread depth and wear analysis, test drive to observe any conditions, accident damage, cel. review of maintenance records, or suggested items if not available, air filter, wipers, all lights,…