Thursday, October 24, 2013

Used Car Inspection: A Vehicle Inspection Can Save You Money

Used Car Inspection: Save Money Buying a Used Car!

Getting a mechanic to inspect a used car that you are considering purchasing is a bit of a pain.  You have to drive the car to a mechanic, the inspection may take an hour or so, and you have to pay $40 to $100 for a used vehicle inspection.  Is it worth the trouble?  On my last used car purchase, getting a vehicle inspection saved me thousands of dollars!

Get a Used Vehicle Inspection and Save Money!
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Why Get A Used Car Inspection?

Reason 1: A Used Car Inspection Helps You Avoid Purchasing a Used Vehicle that Requires Expensive Repairs

You get valuable information from a used car inspection.  I test drove a used car that I was interested in at a local used car lot.  It was a "low miles, one owner" special selling for $3650.  The brakes felt soft to me, so I decided to take it to a mechanic for inspection.  I found a nearby Midas shop that would do a used vehicle inspection for under $50.  It felt like a waste of money to spend $50 on a car that wasn't even mine, as well as spending a couple hours driving the car to the shop and having it inspected.  However, since I was thinking of spending several thousand dollars, I decided that spending $50 to find out more about the vehicle may be money well spent.  That turned out to be true.

The mechanic provided a report listing all of the items on the car that needed repair.  The total repair estimate: $4000!  Admittedly, some of the items on the estimate were not critical and did not urgently need repair.  However, the mechanic pointed out that it would take about $2000 of repairs just to make the car safe to drive.  It was an easy decision to pass on this used car and look for one in better shape.  And yes, the brakes were soft- the previous owner tried to put new brake pads on the car, but brake rotors were worn down, rusty, and needed to be replaced.  The brakes were actually unsafe!

Find out why the check engine light is on- read your own engine light fault codes with an OBD II Scanner.  Works on 1996 and newer vehicles- just plug it into your car.

Reason 2: A Used Car Inspection Gives You Bargaining Power to Get a Great Deal Buying a Used Car

I found another car I was interested in.  It was the same make and model as the $3650 special that I didn't buy after getting a vehicle inspection.  This one was one year newer and in much better condition.  It was priced a bit more at $4500, which was right at KBB book price for retail sale.  I actually found the car listed on craigslist for $4250- good thing I did some internet searching.  The dealer explained that he priced his vehicles a bit more aggressively on the internet than he did on his sticker prices.   I could handle spending a bit more for a used car if it would require less repairs.

I called the Midas shop to talk with them about bringing in another used vehicle for inspection.  It turned out that this shop has a policy that they will do a second vehicle inspection for free if you don't end up buying the first car you have inspected.  Great news!

This vehicle inspection turned out much better.  There was a total of about $2000 of repairs on the estimate, but some of these repairs were optional or could be put off for a long time.  The manager of the shop talked me through the recommended repairs and the priority of getting them done.  When I brought the car back to the car lot, I brought the repair estimate with me.  I ran through all of the repair items on the estimate with the car dealer.  The dealer was reassuring me that these repairs were not a big deal, and that his shop could actually do the repairs for less than Midas had estimated on the used vehicle inspection report.

When the time came to make an offer on the car, I circled about $1000 worth of repair items- the ones that the mechanic said were the highest priority.  I asked the dealer for his best price for the car with the circled repairs completed.  Since he had just explained that these repairs were not serious and that his shop could do the repairs cheaper than Midas, I felt like I was in a pretty good position to bargain.

The dealer went into his shop to talk with his mechanics for a few minutes.  He came back with his offer, which I accepted.  He would sell me the car for $4150 and complete the repairs I wanted included in that price.  Having a detailed used car inspection report gave me a great bargaining tool for buying a used car.

Recommended Reading:
How to Buy a Used Pickup Truck
How to Get the Best Deal on a Used Car

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1 comment:

  1. I always make sure that I get every car inspected before I buy it. You don't want to get stuck buying a Lemon. It's better to be safe and spend a little bit of extra money, than to buy a car that only lasts a couple of months.


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