If you’re looking to buy a pre-owned car, you’re probably hoping to spend no more than is necessary. With this in mind, paying an addition £189 or more for a car inspection might seem like an unnecessary cost.
In reality, a vehicle inspection could save you far more than you spend. Here, we’ll look at how much an inspection costs, alongside the costs associated with putting right some of the problems that come if you buy a car that’s not quite what it seems.
What do you get for your money?
When you book a vehicle inspection through Car.co.uk, you get a lot of service for your money. Before the inspection even begins, a qualified and experienced motor industry professional will travel to the car – saving you time and effort.
Of course, that’s just the beginning of the process. When they arrive at the car’s location (anywhere in mainland UK), they will carry out an extensive examination of the car, often taking 3 hours or more. As well as inspecting mechanical, electrical, structural, and cosmetic parts of the car, they will also test drive it on your behalf, as well as checking the vehicle’s history.
Since everyone is looking for something slightly different from their next car, our inspector won’t simply give you a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer about whether that car is right for you; they’ll produce an extensive report that you can read through at your own pace.
What’s included in the vehicle inspection report?
Depending on the level of inspection you book, the report that’s produced will include details of between 226 and 318 different points relating to the car.
When you receive your report, you’ll see that it’s broken down into 26 different sections. These include dedicated pages that give you detailed information on the condition of mechanical components, like the engine, exhaust, transmission, and suspension – as well as sections that are dedicated to electrics, interior condition, any damage to the car, and even information about outstanding finance and the car’s history.
Rather than large chunks of text with jargon and technical information, each section of the report is presented as a series of checkboxes. Each of those checkboxes represents a different part of the inspection, and they are colour coded according to the inspector’s findings:
- Green: OK
- Amber: Warning
- Red: Danger
- Grey: N/A
This is a useful way of giving you a detailed rundown of the car’s condition, without you needing an expert level of mechanical knowledge. What’s more, you’ll always get photographs with your report – so you can take a detailed look at the overall condition and any problems that have been highlighted.
Is an inspection worth the cost?
To decide whether or not a pre-purchase inspection is good value, you have to take weigh the cost up against the cost of fixing any undiscovered problems after you’ve bought the car.
With this in mind, the first question you might want to consider is, “How likely is it that you’ll buy a car with a hidden problem?”
Worryingly, it’s far more common than you might first think.
Some of the UK’s main breakdown and recovery services suggest that over 50% of vehicles on the road have some hidden history that buyers have not been told about. Although it is an offence to fail to report an accident to your insurer, many people don’t, so there’s no way of knowing if the car you’re looking at has been damaged, or that repairs have been carried out to a good standard.
Of course, accident damage and poor maintenance aren’t the only problems that a car might be hiding. Thousands of people each year buy cars that still have outstanding finance agreements against them – and people sometimes even purchase cars that have been stolen and given a different identity. In cases like these, the car is likely to be seized, and you could find it’s impossible to reclaim your lost money.
Cost of repairs vs cost of inspection
If you do decide to purchase a car without an inspection, you should at least understand the average costs involved with some of the most common problems UK drivers face. They are:
- Gearbox issues: £200-£400.
- Electrical faults: £300.
- Replacement clutch: £450.
- Turbo problems: £400 (£1,000+ if a replacement is needed)
- Malfunctioning brakes: £250
- Faulty alternator: £250-£300
- Cylinder head gasket damage: £450 (£2,500+ if engine components are damaged)
These prices are based on a Ford Focus being repaired at a garage with a labour rate of around £60. It’s worth remembering that more expensive cars and higher labour rates will significantly increase these costs – and some prestige dealers charge £200+ per hour.
So, is an inspection worth it? If it means you avoid purchasing one of the many pre-owned cars with a common problem, then the answer is almost certainly yes. On the other hand, if you’ve got a good size savings pot and you feel confident that you can avoid a banger, then you might decide to risk it…