When car shopping, completing these steps before you lay out money for a vehicle will save you money, time and worry.
1. Call your insurance company to confirm what insurance will cost you for that make and model of vehicle.
2. Do a visual inspection of the vehicle looking for body damage, oil leaks, or other signs of trouble.
3. Test drive the vehicle (radio off) listening for the sounds the car makes while accelerating, braking, and taking tight corners.
4. Pull the vehicle history to find out if the car has been in accidents and repairs were completed.
5. Confirm the cars current condition with a third-party inspection. Buying a car is an emotional decision for you and another person can point out things you won’t see. You could bring a parent or friend but we recommend bringing an automotive professional. That should run around $200 or less and will do five important things for you.
a. Find hidden damage you can’t easily see.
b. Check that any recalls on the vehicle were performed.
c. Double check the car is safe to drive.
d. Confirm the value the seller is asking is accurate.
Features to look for in an inspector are simple. Does the inspector have anything to gain from the sale? Many car lots do an inspection before they sell a vehicle, which is great for them, but what does that do for you?
The second key feature to look for in an inspector is training. Ask your inspector what sort of training or certification they have. You don’t need to be a certified mechanic to inspect a car but some sort of formal training is a good sign.
The final key feature is the time they spend on the inspection. Ask how long an inspection will take. A master inspector, moving at top speed will spend between 45 minutes and an hour to do a full inspection. It should include checking under the hood, the body, the interior, and a test drive. If they are willing to provide an inspection report and pictures that’s the best, because it provides confirmation of the current condition of the vehicle.
You can use a report like that to help you secure financing, haggle with the seller for a more accurate price, or even satisfy some questions your insurance agent may ask.
Performing these steps before buying a vehicle will protect your investment, and more importantly it may protect your life.
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