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What is a vehicle inspection report?

You’ve probably heard horror stories about buying pre-owned vehicles. Outstanding finance, engine problems, poorly carried out repairs – and so on.

While many cars have been well looked after and maintained, there is a surprising number that have a hidden history. The problem is, unless you’ve got a well-trained eye, these issues can be difficult to spot.

A vehicle inspection report gives you a motor industry professional’s view of the car you’re thinking about buying. Here, we’ll look at exactly what you’ll see if you book an inspection.

What does an inspection report include?

When you book a pre-purchase vehicle inspection, an independent motor industry professional will arrange to visit the car you’re thinking about buying. When they do, they’ll carry out a thorough examination of the car. Depending on the level of inspection you choose, this will cover either 226 or 318 different factors – from mechanical and electrical parts to a history check and outstanding finance report.

In some cases, people expect an inspection to either ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ a car – but this isn’t the case. Where an MOT will give you a snapshot of the car’s health before giving you a pass or fail, an inspection goes much deeper, providing more information, so you can make a choice about the vehicle.

You’ll receive a copy of the report – and it’s broken down into different sections. For instance, there are individual sections that cover mechanical parts of the car, including an engine report, exhaust report, suspension report – etc. There are also sections which cover cosmetics, including an interior report, exterior report, and damage report. 

Your report has 26 different sections in total, each giving you vital information about the car and its history. Within these sections, the different checks are given a traffic-light style mark:

  • Green: OK
  • Amber: Warning
  • Red: Danger

This handy way of marking different sections means you can get a great idea of the car’s condition without needing detailed knowledge about car maintenance. What’s more, the inspector will always include photos, so you’ll have all the information you need to decide if the car’s going to be right for you.

Will the inspection tell me whether or not to buy the car?

We’re often asked if an inspector will give you a thumbs up or thumbs down about a specific car – but inspections aren’t designed to do that.

Everybody has a slightly different requirement of their next car. For example, if you’d like a pristine vehicle with no issues and immaculate bodywork, you might only buy the car if every checkbox is marked as green. On the other hand, there are lots of people who would be perfectly happy with some cosmetic issues, as long as the car was mechanically sound – and for these people, a few amber alerts might be okay.

There are also people who have lots of mechanical knowledge and skill who would buy a car with a damaged or non-running engine, damaged gearbox, or even missing parts – especially if they got it for a great price. For most people, they would want to avoid a car like this at all costs, but for others, this kind of vehicle would be perfect.

On this basis, you can probably see that a thumbs up for one person would be a definite thumbs down for another. Since everyone’s ideal car is slightly different, an inspection is designed to give you the information you need to decide for yourself.

Other related FAQs

Looking for more related content to this? We’ve picked a selection of related topics that you may find helpful

At, we can provide pre-purchase inspections for imported vehicles. However, it’s important that you let us know if the vehicle is imported when you book – as this gives our inspector time to prepare accordingly.

With, you don’t need to be present when one of our independent inspectors carries out an inspection on your behalf. Your report will include photos of the car too – so you can be confident you’re getting the full picture, even if you’re miles away.

At, we do not provide pre-purchase inspections for motorcycles. However, the independent vehicle inspectors we work with can inspect a huge range of vehicles, from cars to motorhomes, and almost everything in-between.

A pre-purchase vehicle report is based on the expertise and opinion of the inspector at the time the inspection is carried out. Since we cannot control what happens to the vehicle after the report is completed, an inspection does not come with a guarantee.

Vehicle inspections are designed to give you all the information you need to decide whether or not a car is right for you. An independent inspector will check the electrical, mechanical, and cosmetic parts of a vehicle; before providing you with a detailed report on their condition.

The cost of a vehicle inspection through starts at £189. When you consider that around 50% of pre-owned vehicles currently for sale have some undeclared damage or negative history, this is a small price to pay to know you’re buying an honest car.

The cost of a pre-purchase vehicle inspection will start from either £189 or £229 – depending on the level you choose. Your inspection will be promptly carried out by a professional vehicle inspector, and you’ll receive a detailed photographic report about the car.

Since the UK weather is so changeable, you’ll be pleased to hear that vehicle inspections can be done in the rain. Extreme weather conditions may require that your inspection is rearranged, but this is very rare.

Currently, we can only inspect vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes in gross vehicle weight. The good news is, this covers virtually all standard cars on the road today – even luxury vehicles with large engines.

A pre-purchase vehicle inspection is a way of checking the overall condition of a car you’re looking at buying. The inspection report that’s produced will help you discover any hidden issues with that car before you part with any money.