Pre-purchase inspections are incredibly important to perform before investing your hard-earned cash into a vehicle. It can be aggravating and financially devastating to purchase a lemon—it drains your wallet and causes mass amounts of stress. Before taking ownership, especially of a used vehicle, it is best to have a pre-purchase inspection done. If you have some knowledge of auto mechanics you may feel comfortable performing the inspection yourself; however, it is highly recommended that you take the car to a professional to ensure the most thorough inspection. When we buy a used car, we do so without any knowledge of how the previous owner treated the vehicle; they may have been in several car accidents, or caused damage to the integrity of the car. It is important to inspect the car because you do not want to become financially responsible for any previous damages sustained by the old owner. If you decide to take on the inspection yourself, knowing what areas of the vehicle that are important to look at before a purchase will be helpful. Here are some of the major inspections that should be done before your purchase.
Inspect vehicle exterior
Firstly you will want to inspect the exterior of the vehicle, which includes the outer body and the underbody. Look for any rust, dents, scratches, scrapes, or gouges. If the paint color does not match all the way around the vehicle, it may be an indication that the vehicle sustained exterior damage in the past. This may also indicate that there was previous damage to the frame of the vehicle. This can cause serious issues down the road, and it could likely be a salvaged vehicle; it is further likely that any external damage as severe as frame damage indicates internal damage as well, such as punctures or leaks to the most vital parts of the vehicle. Look at all the exterior lights on the vehicle and be sure that they are all in working condition, and don’t forget the license plate light! If you drive away with one taillight out, that is an instant fix-it-ticket. The previous owner can be required to make the vehicle at least safe to drive away in. If you are okay with a few dents or scratches, you could perhaps bargain and get a lower price for the vehicle in order to repair them yourself.
Check if important parts functioning properly
You should also take a look at all the doors and interior mechanisms—mirrors, air conditioning, heating, stereo, defroster, locks, windows, and trunk latch. It can be dangerous, or even illegal to drive without working mirrors on your vehicle. Another safety hazard that should be in working condition is the defroster; in colder or damp weather, it is imperative that the defroster in your car is functioning properly. You will also want to look at the windshield—inspect for chips, cracks, or divots; windshields can be relatively pricey, so it’s better to know what you’re getting yourself into. You should also be sure to look at the tires on the vehicle; newer tires are preferable always, however tires can tell you a lot about other potential issues with the car. For instance, if there is an uneven tread on the vehicle, this may point to other issues with the alignment. This may be due to a faulty suspension. Although simple, the tires can tell you a lot about a vehicle.
Opening the hood of a vehicle can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t know what you are looking at or for. Inspecting the engine is, of course, of great importance. You will want to look at the fluids’ cleanliness level and fill level. Dirty engine fluids indicate greater issues with the function of the vehicle—it may be that the previous owner did not keep up on regular maintenance, such as oil changes. You may be able to notice issues with the engine by hearing it as well—by starting the car you will carefully want to listen to it idle—any rough idling could be a sign of deeper problems with the engine. The belts should also be inspected; old, cracked belts are an accident waiting to happen—if a belt snaps, it could be detrimental. Finally, a good, old-fashioned test drive is always in order. Note any issues with steering, alignment, acceleration, brakes, or suspension. As you can see, this is a detailed process that is usually best to leave to the professionals.