Buying a pre-owned car can be quite an intimidating prospect. As well as finding a good price, you might feel like you’re expected to know what to do when you view the vehicle.
The truth is, unless you’ve got plenty of mechanical experience, there could be significant issues with a vehicle that you don’t notice until it’s too late.
Pre-purchase inspections are designed to take this worry away. Here, we’ll explore what they are and how they work in a little more detail.
What is a vehicle inspection?
Quite simply, a pre-purchase vehicle inspection is a report that’s produced by an independent inspector about a car you’re thinking of buying.
Rather than just getting a brief overview of the condition of the car you’re looking at, the inspector will go into great detail about the vehicle – exploring a huge number of mechanical, electrical, and cosmetic factors. Depending on the level of inspection you choose, the inspector can even look into the vehicle’s history – cross-referencing data from insurance companies, the police, and the DVLA.
When the inspection has been carried out, you’ll receive a copy of the report. This means you don’t have to make the journey to check the car yourself – and you’ve got a professional opinion about the car that usually far exceeds anything a non-motor industry professional could hope to achieve.
Do I have to be with the car when it’s inspected?
It can be extremely frustrating visiting a car that’s for sale – only to find out it hasn’t been described accurately when you get there.
With a pre-purchase inspection, you don’t have to worry about travelling to the vehicle; instead, we’ll arrange an inspector to visit on your behalf. Of course, you’ll have to let the person who is selling the car know that you’re organising an inspection – and they’ll have to agree to it being done, but as long as they do, our inspectors are happy to travel anywhere in the mainland UK.
Is it okay to inspect a car that’s in a dealership?
Our inspectors are extremely flexible in terms of a vehicle’s location. It doesn’t matter if you’re purchasing a car that’s in a dealership – or a vehicle that’s on someone’s drive or at their workplace; we’ll help you work out if it’s going to be right for you.
What kind of things does a vehicle inspection include?
What’s included in an inspection depends on the level of service you require. Our Premium inspection covers up to 226 points around the vehicle – and begins with a general overview of the car. This overview will see all visible mechanical parts investigated – with each given a grade.
If the part or system that’s being investigated is in a good state of repair, then it’ll be deemed ‘OK’ and marked in green on the report. If the inspector feels there could be a problem with the part that’s being looked at, then it’ll be marked as a ‘Warning’ and shown as amber on the report. If there are any parts or issues that the inspector deems to be dangerous, they will be marked red and highlighted as a ‘Danger’.
The inspection doesn’t just rely on looking at the car though – the inspector will drive the car, making sure it’s taken on a journey of at least 10 miles to identify any issues that occur on the road.
As well as the visual inspection and road test, the car will be thoroughly inspected for signs of accident damage or repairs – and the vehicle’s brake fluid will be checked too.
A Premium Plus inspection builds on this – offering up to 318 points of inspection. The visual inspection becomes a physical inspection – going a little deeper into the car and inspecting movement, wear, and other problems that aren’t always apparent to the eye alone. The road test the car is taken on is doubled to 20 miles, allowing for additional time to make sure the car drives as expected.
With both levels of inspection, photographs are provided along with the comprehensive report, so you can see the condition of the vehicle yourself.
Will I find out about the history of the car?
If you choose a Premium Plus inspection, our inspector will carry out a full vehicle history check – so you can be absolutely confident that there’s no hidden history you don’t know about.
This history check doesn’t just cover the things an HPI check will cover – it goes deeper still; checking police records, DVLA data, and insurance company accident logs to make sure there are no untoward incidents that you’re not aware of.
It’s estimated that 50% of cars on the road have some history that hasn’t been declared when the car was last sold. With a Premium Plus inspection, you get the full picture.
Will I be told if the car passes or fails?
Unlike an MOT, an inspection isn’t designed to either pass or fail the car you’re looking at buying. Instead, the report that’s produced is designed to give you all the information you need to decide whether or not the vehicle is going to be right for you.
If you’re looking for a completely flawless vehicle, you’ll want to make sure that all the sections reported on are marked as green and ‘OK’. If you’re happy that there’s a little work to be done, you might be content knowing there are a few ‘Warning’ amber issues too. However, you should be very careful if you’re buying a car with any red ‘Danger’ issues – as the vehicle may not be safe to drive and will almost certainly need mechanical attention before it’s safe.
Some people wouldn’t want to buy a car that’s less than perfect – whereas other people will be happy to have it recovered and repaired – especially if it’s a bargain price.
Since there’s no such thing as the perfect car for everyone, our inspections will simply give you all the information you need – so you can make a fully informed decision about buying the car.