You've done your research, saved your pennies and made your way to the dealership – you're ready to buy a car. But before you unite with your new baby and drive away, there's a crucial step you should take. One of the final items on your pre-purchase checklist should be getting your new ride inspected. You may consider an independent inspection to be another unwanted and unnecessary expense, but even the newest models and most reliable vehicles can be prone to unseen issues and one-off maintenance problems. Thus it's important to consider your mechanic's inspection as an investment toward your future with your car.
Know the procedure
AutoTrader noted the dealer likely won't make mention of an independent inspection, which means the onus is on you to get the ball rolling. You have to not only let the dealer know that you'll be ordering an inspection, but you also have to make the appointment to have the car looked at yourself. Fortunately, the source assured that your job as a buyer stops once you set everything up. After scheduling with the mechanic or garage to look at your prospective purchase, they'll follow up with a full report when they've completed their job.
What you're looking for
Do you know what sorts of things you should be on the lookout for before signing on the dotted line? The standard vehicle inspection covers anywhere from 50 to 100 points, according to consumer blog Angie's List. This refers to the number of areas of the car's functionality that are examined, so a 100-point inspection will look at more than a 50- or 75-point variety.
Of course, 100 points is a lot of ground to cover, but in general there are a few key areas that almost all mechanics will look at. According to AutoGuide, brakes, radiators, coolant and suspension are all likely candidates for close pre-purchase scrutiny, as these are some of the most important parts for your car's continued operation. But as a buyer you should also familiarize yourself with an overview of what's covered and, more importantly, what won't be covered, so you can make sure to fill in any gaps yourself. For example, the source noted that many inspections don't look at the condition of the car's body, but it's a good idea for you to be on the lookout for rust or other signs of damage or neglect.
If you're looking to buy a used car, head to NJ State Auto Auction. There are hundreds of Carfax-certified cars on the lot, and an in-house finance team ready to help you afford the vehicle that's right for you.