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Get an inspection before buying a used car Advertiser Disclosure Advertiser Disclosure We are an independent, advertising-supported comparison service. Our mission is to help you make smarter financial decisions by providing you with interactive financial calculators and tools, publishing original and objective content, by enabling you to conduct your own research and compare information for free to help you make financial decisions with confidence. Bankrate has agreements with issuers, including but not limited to American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citi and Discover. How We Make Money The deals that are displayed on this site are from companies who pay us. This compensation could affect how and when products are featured on this website, for example such things as the order in which they may be listed within the categories of listing, except where prohibited by law. Our loan products, such as mortgages and home equity and other home lending products. However, this compensation will have no impact on the content we publish or the reviews that you see on this site. We do not contain the vast array of companies or financial offers that may be open to you. SHARE: Sinology/Getty Images

3 min read published May 12, 2022

Writer: Kellye Guinan Written by personal and Business Finance contributor Kellye Guinan is an editor and writer on a freelance basis with over five years of experience in personal financial planning. She is also employed full-time at the local library, where she assists people in her community gain access to information on financial literacy, as well as other subjects. Edited by Rhys Subitch Edited by Auto loans editor Rhys has been writing and editing for Bankrate since the end of 2021. They are passionate about helping readers gain confidence to control their finances by providing precise, well-studied facts that break down complex topics into manageable bites. The Bankrate guarantee

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There are money-related questions. Bankrate can help. Our experts have helped you understand your finances for more than four decades. We are constantly striving to give our customers the right advice and tools needed to make it through life’s financial journey. Bankrate adheres to strict standards standard of conduct, so you can rest assured that our content is honest and precise. Our award-winning editors and journalists provide honest and trustworthy content to help you make the best financial decisions. The content we create by our editorial staff is objective, truthful and uninfluenced from our advertising. We’re open about how we are capable of bringing high-quality information, competitive rates and helpful tools to our customers by describing how we earn money. Bankrate.com is an independent, advertising-supported publisher and comparison service. We are compensated in exchange for the promotion of sponsored goods andservices or through you clicking specific links that are posted on our website. This compensation could influence the manner, place and in what order products are listed, except where prohibited by law for our mortgage, home equity and other home loan products. Other elements, such as our own proprietary website rules and whether the product is available in your region or within your personal credit score could also affect how and when products are featured on this site. Although we try to offer the most diverse selection of products, Bankrate does not include information about every financial or credit products or services. Car history reports can be an excellent source of information when looking into used cars, but when you’re looking to buy, the need for an inspection is crucial. Work with an independent mechanic who is who is not affiliated with the seller — to determine possible areas of concern. A reputable dealer should permit this to be a part of the process. You may also be able to request a mobile inspection if a private seller is reluctant to drive to an unknown mechanic. Most importantly, make sure the mechanic you choose is licensed and trustworthy so that you’re not signing on for repairs in the future. Why getting an inspection is essential in the purchase process. A pre-purchase inspection can give you an idea of the physical and cosmetic condition of the car. Not only will this assist in identifying any potential issues however, it will allow you to back out of buying if the vehicle doesn’t meet your requirements. If you are scheduled for an inspection, ask for a detailed account of the scope of the inspection and how the technician will go about seeking. You should be provided with a complete report, which will include a thorough examination of the exterior and interior for damage and wear. The mechanic will also check the functioning of all the features in the car and the fluid levels. You should find an expert mechanic who can evaluate the engine, steering, suspension and frame and also look for signs of prior accidents or water damage. Also, they should use a code-reading device to check for any error codes which could signal a problem. Should they find any, they can request an invoice for the appropriate repair. Once you have a report, you’ll have the ability to negotiate to negotiate a lower price or even find a better vehicle. It might take more time but it could save you thousands of dollars in repair costs if you detect a problem prior to it becomes a problem. When to get the used car inspected You should avoid an official inspection until you’re certain about the . This could mean negotiating the cost as well as driving the vehicle and performing your own inspection first. Once you’re positive it’s the car you want, schedule either an auto mechanic on the move to visit you or work with the seller to take the vehicle into a trusted repair shop. A pre-purchase inspection should be the final step before closing the sale. In the end, you don’t want to spend money on a vehicle you’ll never end up buying. What an inspection costs An inspection will likely cost anywhere from $100 to $150, based on . However, the exact cost will vary based on the expertise that your technician has had, age of the car and the underlying problems. Your mechanic should be able to give you a quote before you bring the used car into. Like taxes and fees, don’t wrap this cost into your loan. Consider a used vehicle inspection separately — and don’t schedule one until you have narrowed down your options to one vehicle in good condition. There is always a chance you won’t want to buy the car but saving the inspection for a later negotiation will save you money. How do you get a used car inspected In the ideal scenario, an inspection must be done by a mechanic with whom you already have a working relationship with. A majority of private auto body and repair shops will inspect used vehicles. But if your mechanic doesn’t provide a recommendation, you can ask one that does. If you don’t have a mechanic you trust Find local mechanics that aren’t associated with dealerships with good customer reviews. Reviews can be found on the mechanic’s Better Business Bureau page. Members of the American Automobile Association (AAA) are able to search for a ASE-certified garage, or go to a recommended mechanic by the insurance company. Any mechanic you hire should be certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). An alternative is to hire an established national company that specializes in car inspections for used vehicles like Alliance Inspection Management, Carchex and Inspect My Ride. You can request a portable inspection. Inspections are usually conducted in a garage or shop however there mechanics that provide mobile inspections. This could be more convenient if you’re working with a private dealer or dealer who doesn’t allow you to take an extensive test ride. However, this method could cost more than taking the vehicle to a mechanic. The convenience will cost you — and it will probably take a few hours in order for the repairman to thoroughly inspect the vehicle. The internet is a great place to buy used cars and inspections Online used car sellers like Carvana and Vroom offer a week in which you are able to test drive the vehicle before making a final decision on the purchase. It gives you the chance to take the vehicle to your mechanic and have it examined. Because the majority of online sellers do not allow you to negotiate prices, any mechanical problems found could be enough to take the vehicle back. If you’re buying a vehicle sight-unseen from a private seller online, be clear that you’d like to have it checked by a mechanic prior to making a purchase. The seller might not be happy with that — and that’s fine. There are plenty of cars that are available and you should continue to search rather than buying a car that has not been inspected. What next steps to take? Regardless of the type of inspection and inspection service you select ensure that you get an official report with photos of any concerns. This documentation will be helpful in your negotiations to purchase a used car in the event that you decide to go ahead with the purchase. Learn more


Written by personal and business financial Contributor Kellye Guinan is a freelance editor and writer who has more than 5 years experience working in the field of personal financial planning. She’s also a full-time worker at her local library, helping her community access information about financial literacy, in addition to other topics. Edited by Rhys Subitch Edited by Auto loans editor Rhys has been editing and writing for Bankrate since late 2021. They are committed to helping readers gain confidence to manage their finances with clear, well-researched information that breaks down otherwise complex topics into manageable bites.

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