Buying a car can be a significant investment, and you’d want to ensure you’re getting your money’s worth. One of the ways to help ensure this is by conducting a third-party pre-purchase inspection. In this article, you’ll learn about what a pre-purchase or vehicle inspection entails, what the benefits are and how much it costs.
What is a car pre-purchase inspection?
A pre-purchase car inspection is an inspection done by a trained mechanic or technician to determine the condition of a vehicle before purchase. Experts generally advise carrying out a used car inspection by a third party to gather information on the car’s current condition (damage, maintenance, safety) to determine whether a purchase is a good investment. Inspection checklists mainly focus on physical inspections of the vehicle. This can provide key information about the current condition of a vehicle that would not show up on a digital vehicle history check (eg. HPI check).
The checklist can vary depending on where you purchase the service and the type of vehicle. Overall, you can expect the inspection to check for the vehicle’s safety and reliability – thus being in a better position to make an informed decision before investing in the vehicle. At ClickMechanic 3 levels of pre-purchase inspection are offered: basic, standard and premium.
The pros of a pre-purchase inspection
Some of the benefits of a vehicle inspection include:
Identifying safety issues: A mechanic typically will examine the brakes, suspension, tyres and steering to ensure they are in good condition and functioning correctly. Even if the vehicle has a valid MOT test certificate, it does not guarantee that the vehicle is in a roadworthy condition at the point of sale. An MOT test checks the safety of the vehicle only at the time of the test and the condition of the vehicle could have changed in the interim period of time.
An inspection with ClickMechanic also includes a road test where the mechanic will check how the vehicle drives to report if there are any glaringly obvious issues with the car.
Unbiased opinion: A pre-purchase inspection report should be conducted by a third-party mechanic which means it helps provide an unbiased assessment of the car. This is especially beneficial when the buyer does not necessarily have the technical knowledge to determine the technical condition of the vehicle.
Peace of mind: If a professional mechanic gives the car a clean bill of health, it can help you feel confident in your investment.
Help with negotiating the price: Knowing the true condition of the car can help you negotiate a fair price with the seller or decide if the car is worth the additional repairs if bought. You can negotiate a lower price if there are issues that could lead to potential bigger repairs in the future (or you could choose to not buy the car if there are major faults, of course!).
The cons of a pre-purchase inspection
While there are some benefits of carrying out a pre-purchase inspection, you should also consider the cons:
Cost: While the cost of carrying out an inspection balances out considering the amount of money spent on purchasing a car, it can sometimes be a drawback when you’re paying for many inspections in case you’re looking at multiple cars in the market.
Time and inconvenience: A pre-purchase inspection can take more than an hour and can be inconvenient to arrange. If you’re in a rush to purchase a particular car, it can cause unexpected delays. Fortunately, with ClickMechanic, you can book a vehicle inspection in seconds anywhere in the country and a mechanic will go to the arranged location at the preferred time and carry out the inspection with an email report sent right to your inbox.
No warranty: It’s important to note that the inspection only covers the ‘checks’ of the car and not potential issues that may arrive after the purchase of the car which is why most vehicle inspections do not come with a warranty. It’s important to appreciate that the inspection is more to help with peace of mind at the point of purchase rather than a guarantee of a problem-free car for the duration of your ownership.
All in all, a pre-purchase inspection is a valuable tool in addition to other checks such as an MOT check or a vehicle history check that can help buyers make an informed decision when purchasing a used car.
When should I get a pre-purchase inspection?
Carrying out a pre-purchase inspection is typically recommended when buying any used car but is especially useful in the following situations:
Older vehicles (or high mileage): It’s no secret that the older the vehicle is, the more problems it can come with. They’re more likely to suffer from mechanical issues and in these cases, an inspection can help identify any worn-out parts that may need repairs in the future.
Buying from a private seller: Pre-purchase inspections can be especially helpful when buying from a private seller since they may not be as knowledgeable or transparent as a dealership. Private sellers, in some cases, may also choose to not disclose certain issues with the car that an inspection may be able to identify!
When the car is in another city/town: It may not always be feasible to travel to another city to check a car yourself. A vehicle inspection can help make this process easier and also give you peace of mind and convenience during this transaction.
How much does a pre-purchase inspection cost?
In the UK, an average pre-purchase or vehicle inspection will cost around £100 for common cars on the road. This can vary with the type of vehicle or the location and the number of checks covered in the report. While it may seem like an additional upfront cost in the process of buying a used car, it can potentially help you save costly repairs down the road.
Does the seller or buyer pay for the vehicle inspection?
Typically, the buyer is responsible for paying for the pre-purchase vehicle inspection but you can always double-check with the dealership or seller if they offer this service. It’s important that the inspection is carried out by an independent third party to limit any bias in the report.
How long does a pre-purchase inspection take?
On average, the actual inspection can take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours. The exact time will depend on the type of vehicle and the number of points covered on the checklist.
What is included in the pre-purchase report?
The checklist and inspection report will vary depending on the mechanic, the type of vehicle and the extent of checks. Typically, it will cover the basics such as exterior, interior, under the bonnet, under the vehicle, corrosion checks, road tests etc. ClickMechanic provides 3 levels of inspection: Basic, Standard, Premium with the main difference being the number of checks conducted on the vehicle.
An example of a ClickMechanic pre-purchase inspection report for the “Electrics” section:
Louanne is a marketing and communications professional in the automotive tech industry currently at ClickMechanic, boasting over 5 years of experience.
Louanne’s work at ClickMechanic might revolve around branding and customer engagement, but her passions extend far beyond the marketing sphere. A true foodie at heart, she loves exploring diverse cuisines and talking about her culinary adventures across the world. Her writing prowess shines through in her car-related blog content, where she offers invaluable driving tips and practical car repair advice.
In her Suzuki Jimny 4-wheel drive, Louanne combines her sense of adventure with her automotive know-how, transforming every drive into a lesson and a pleasure.