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Should you always get a pre-purchase inspection before buying a used car?

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The high demand for cars and low supply is making it very expensive to buy a car these days. All across the board, prices on new or used cars have risen. According to CNN and data from Edmunds, the average used car price is up 27% from a year ago.

Despite high prices, you may still be in the market for a used car because it makes the most financial sense. If you’re worried about potential repairs, you can protect your wallet from future expensive repair bills with a vehicle service contract (also known as an extended car warranty).

To ensure you’re making the right choice, experts recommend getting a pre-purchase inspection prior to buying your car. Here is some quick information about a pre-purchase inspection.

What is a used car pre-purchase inspection?

A pre-purchase inspection is simply having a licensed mechanic check your car to determine the real condition of the car. They can check for mechanical problems, cosmetic damage and how safe the car is. 

Why should you get a used car pre-purchase inspection?

A knowledgeable mechanic will quickly be able to determine any potential issues that the car may have in the future. Having an expert opinion prior to spending your money will make you more confident about your choice. It’s also very common for used car sellers to lie and say the car is in a better condition than it actually is. Carfax reports can be helpful but they may not tell the full story.

What should the mechanic inspect during a pre-purchase inspection?

The mechanic should do an involved inspection (for example, putting it up on a lift and doing a thorough road test). They will generally check these 10 aspects of the car:

  1. Warning lights on dashboard
  2. Tires and suspension system
  3. Fluid and leak check
  4. Exhaust system
  5. Exterior check for dents and rust
  6. Car lights
  7. Air conditioning and heating system
  8. Brakes
  9. Noises and knocking coming from the engine
  10. Grinding coming from the transmission

Thinking about buying a vehicle service contract for your used car? Read how extended car warranties for used cars can protect high-mileage cars from repairs.

Where should you get a pre-purchase inspection?

If you’re buying your used car from a dealership, they can usually provide you with an inspection themselves. You can also ask if you can take the car to a mechanic of your own for the inspection. 

If you’re buying the car from a direct seller, you may have to negotiate with them to allow you to do the inspection. Whether buying from a dealer or a direct seller, you may have to put down a deposit.

Remember: Buying a car is a huge purchase and you have the right to take your time and gather information to help you make your decision. Don’t be pressured into signing anything if you’re not completely sure about what you’re buying.

How much does it usually cost to get a pre-purchase inspection?

Getting a pre-purchase inspection will usually cost somewhere around $100 to $200.

Avoid expensive car repairs on your used car

Once you decide on your used car, you’ll drive with fewer worries with the right kind of vehicle breakdown coverage. It covers your car beyond the manufacturer’s warranty (which comes with new cars and lasts only for around three to five years). With comprehensive coverage over repairs big or small, you simply take your car to any repair shop and get the  problem fixed without paying the bill out of pocket. has created vehicle breakdown coverage that is simple, trustworthy and affordable. Transforming the extended car warranty marketplace through technology and transparency, offers a full suite of worry-free, no haggle car care plans through low-cost, 100% online, monthly subscriptions that drivers can sign up for in less than five minutes. Get an instant quote today!