Know Your Car Terms: The Importance of a Pre-Purchase Inspection

Know Your Car Terms: The Importance of a Pre-Purchase Inspection

You see the ad while searching online for the make and model you’ve chosen. The paint looks glossy and nearly new. The tires have good tread depth, and the wheels are free of scuffs. 

But are you really sure about what’s underneath the sheet metal?

The truth is, you don’t know if the car has had significant mechanical issues or been in a major accident. It may feel just fine on a test drive yet need serious repairs. Even if a used car comes with a warranty, it may not cover unreported problems. Here’s where a pre-purchase car inspection comes in. 

A certified mechanic will check every nook and cranny of a used vehicle, locate any problems the seller hasn’t shared with you. Could the brakes need replacing soon? Does the engine run just right so you’ll get optimum fuel mileage? 

Let’s delve further into why a vehicle inspection is such a good idea when used car buying.

No items found.

What is a PPI for cars?

When you spot a car you want, excitement runs high. Sometimes, you'll find just what you were looking for, and the desire to drive it away may overcome taking your time and being sensible.

When buying a used car, a pre-purchase inspection, or PPI, is essential to know just what you're getting into. Prices for a PPI typically cost $100-$200. 

You can get a pre-purchase car inspection performed at almost any auto repair facility, and most cover over 100 specific points of the car's condition. Technicians check mechanical elements like the engine and transmission to verify they're functioning correctly. They'll also inspect wear items like brake pads and tires to find how much life they have left before needing replacement.

A pre-purchase inspection also reveals hidden problems or damage unreported by the previous owner. For instance, there could be flood damage or frame damage even though the car looks pristine. 

Whether a mechanic finds several problems or none at all, you'll have the information you need when you make your decision.

If you choose Shift for your next used car, there's no need to get it inspected. Shift's certified mechanics perform extensive 150-point inspections on every car and have complete vehicle history reports, so you know your used car feels as good as new.

How to find a mechanic to inspect a used car

Two types of PPIs exist, mobile and garage. A mobile inspection entails a certified mechanic traveling to the vehicle's location and checking it over in person. A mobile inspection has the advantages of being brief and accommodating. The mechanic performs the work and immediately provides an inspection report listing what they find and also takes detailed pictures of the vehicle.

However, an inspection at a garage uses specialized equipment that can delve deeper into a vehicle's mechanical and computer systems. Different manufacturers have specific diagnostic equipment that scans for engine trouble codes, which can spot a problem before it worsens.

A garage inspection also allows the mechanic to lift the car and inspect the underbody in greater detail. 

If you're looking at a used electric car, visiting a specialist for that make is a good idea. Electric vehicles are complex, so choosing a mechanic with appropriate tools is the way to go.

The same goes for used trucks. Trucks often perform in demanding conditions, whether they go off-road or work at a construction site. Taking a truck to a garage where technicians can inspect it on a lift ensures that they'll find any underbody damage. 

Whether you decide on a mobile or garage inspection, either is better than none at all. But doing the PPI at a garage gives you the peace of mind that a professional has checked over every detail, and your used car is good to go. 

Shift's has a large selection of fully inspected cars located across the country. Their website is user-friendly, and you'll be able to find various makes and models to suit your needs and budget. And Shift also offers in-house financing, making it a one-stop shop for finding just the car you're looking for. 

2014 BMW i3 (from $12,950)

2014 BMW i3 (from $12,950)
30-Day warranty
Free 7-day return
Free 7-day trial return
30-days warranty
No-Contact Test DrivesButton Text
No-Contact Test Drives
Shop Used BMW i3
2014 BMW i3 (from $12,950)
30-Day warranty
Free 7-day return
Free 7-day trial return
30-days warranty
No-Contact Test Drives
No-Contact Test Drives
Shop Used BMW i3

What if the car is far away?

With the internet at your disposal, there’s a good chance you’ll locate an appealing used car that happens to be physically far away. In that situation, a pre-purchase car inspection is more important than ever. A PPI is essential because you can’t view the car yourself, and you’ll want to avoid any issues with documentation or even fraud. 

Though the seller may offer to perform the inspection themselves, it’s a good idea to seek out a mechanic on your own. If you have friends or family in the area, they can recommend a local mechanic. Or if there’s a garage specializing in the vehicle’s specific make, they’ll have additional expertise in diagnosing any issues. Since you’re likely to be paying for the PPI, make sure the report is sent directly to you and not via the seller. 

If you choose Shift for your next used car purchase, you can avoid the hassle of arranging a PPI. Shift has a wide selection of fully inspected vehicles with a seven-day, no-questions-asked return policy. If you’re unsatisfied with your purchase, you can return it for a full refund within seven days.

No items found.

What if a PPI reveals problems?

If a pre-purchase car inspection reveals hidden issues, you can follow several courses of action.

First, if previously unreported issues or damage surface, you may not trust the seller. However, suppose the seller was upfront about the car’s condition. In that case, you can agree on the seller taking care of the repairs before you officially buy, and you can also negotiate a better deal in the process.

You can also use A PPI that reports problems to your advantage. If you want a vehicle above your budget that’s a higher trim level or more highly optioned, you can negotiate down the price if a PPI returns hidden issues.

Of course, the ideal result is a PPI that reports a car in excellent condition without needed repairs. A positive PPI report is a great reassurance that your used car purchase will be reliable for years to come.

When you buy with Shift, not only do you get a fully inspected vehicle, you also get best-in-industry service contracts for years of trouble-free driving.

2019 Honda Ridgeline RTL (from $34,950)

2019 Honda Ridgeline RTL (from $34,950)
30-Day warranty
Free 7-day returns
Free 7-day trial return
30-days warranty
No-Contact Test Drives
No-Contact Test Drives
Shop Used Honda Ridgeline
2019 Honda Ridgeline RTL (from $34,950)
30-Day warranty
Free 7-day return
Free 7-day trial return
30-days warranty
No-Contact Test Drives
No-Contact Test Drives
Shop Used Honda Ridgeline

A pre-purchase inspection gives you security

Buying a used car can be a confusing, intimidating process. In most cases, you won’t know the previous owner well, so you can’t be sure what the car’s been through or its exact condition.

A used car is a big purchase, so you want to be sure you get what you’re paying for. 

Getting a pre-purchase car inspection takes the worry of buying a used car because you’ll know just what you’re getting when you sign the papers. Additionally, if a PPI reports problems, it can be a valuable negotiating tool to get into a more expensive vehicle or secure an even better deal.

When you buy a used car, Shift can take care of all the details for you, including a pre-purchase inspection. Certified mechanics perform 150-point inspections on all vehicles, and you get a free vehicle history report. Shift will also deliver your used car purchase directly to your door, so there’s no flying across the country to get the car you want. 

No items found.

No items found.

No items found.

No items found.
Author
Shift Editorial Team