How do you know if you are getting a good deal, or buying yourself a set of problems in that used car you are considering? A Pre-Purchase Inspection (PPI) by an ASE certified technician is good insurance against buying an expensive set of repair or maintenance bills along with your new used car. The technician will review systems and framework, and put you in a good bargaining position because you will know what is wrong, and what is right, with the car. A PPI will include:
- Review of maintenance records, including what has been done and what will be needed soon
- Brakes, belts and hose condition
- When is the timing belt due to be replaced? (Replacement of timing belts needs to be done per the manufacturer’s schedule of miles on the vehicle and/or year of the car.) Replacement of the timing belt and associated components can cost around $1000.)
- Fluid leaks that may be minor, or might add $1000 in repair costs!
- Whether the car has ever been wrecked, repaired, or has rust damage. Damage to the body or suspension can decrease value of the car, and may require further repairs. Simple curb hits can bend upper or lower control arms, affect the hub assembly, and/or numerous other parts that may not be readily visible.
- Brake condition
- Are the brake pads worn to where they need replacing soon? ($200/axle)
- Have the rotors been overheated due to prolonged braking, or due to worn brake pads? (Approximately $350/axle on a good day, if both rotors and pads need replacing)
- Inspect frame, shocks, & struts
- Are the shocks or struts leaking fluid? If you need to replace struts ($500-600), you will need a 4-wheel alignment as well ($90).
- Tire life
- Will the tires require replacement soon? Are they safe? Does the car need an alignment, which improves tire wear? You can tell a lot about a vehicle’s suspension system just by looking at each tire’s individual wear.
- Engine Codes that can reveal engine problems & condition
- Codes can be read by our diagnostic code reader and can give you a snapshot of unresolved problems.
Be a self-advocate! A Pre-Purchase Inspection is well worth an hour of your time, and for $150 or less (money that you may even save in your negotiation), you can buy with confidence and be steered clear of a “money pit”. Contact your favorite honest accurate auto technician, and be an informed buyer!