Do You Need a Pre-Sale Car Inspection?

If there is anything my husband and I do with regularity, it’s car shopping. Every four to five years, my husband gets the itch and we’re off to inspect new models at the local dealerships. When we do decide to buy new, we always trade in one of our current cars. I like to think that I take good enough care of my car to get a decent trade-in value, and consequently a low monthly payment for the next car. One thing I do worry about, though, is the quality of my current car and whether the dealer thinks it’s worth driving. Some have suggested a pre-sale inspection is good before you take it to the lot, but is it worth it?

One question to ask, too, is that is a pre-sale inspection required? You may find it isn’t necessary, but it can be helpful if you need to prove the car you want to sell or trade-in is in good shape. A reputable dealership will provide a pre-owned car’s history on request, and that’s helpful if you plan to buy a used car, but when you’re on the other end you are the one who must prove all points. One thing my husband does, for example, before preparing a car to trade is check the tires and replace them if necessary. You may need to do a bit more depending on the condition of your car, and if you do not know much about automobiles a reputable mechanic can help.

What can you expect in a car inspection? Most likely, the mechanics will take a look at the following:

  • Complete check of the undercarriage to unsure the car is not rusting or hasn’t suffered flood damage. The mechanic will also check for any fluid leaks and suggest repairs.
  • There will be a check of the body for dents, dings, and patches where the paint doesn’t match up. If the car has been involved in an accident, that record will show eventually, but you want to be sure all damage has been properly repaired.
  • Brakes, windshield wipers, stereo system, and all other components are tested to make sure they work. As much as you use power windows and the moon roof, the next owner will want to push a button without problems.

Once you have a verified inspection in hand, you can show a dealer how well the car functions. Whether or not you should get an inspection depends on the car’s age and mileage used. An older car could benefit by having one if only to give you the chance at a low car payment for your next car. Consider a pre-sale check-up before you make any test drives.

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on Kempsville car repair.