Buyers' Guide: Pre-purchase inspection stories
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In our Buyer’s Guides we’re always stressing the importance of pre-purchase vehicle inspections as a safeguard.
However, after weighing up the cost versus the risk, many consumers decide to forgo having a vehicle inspected.
So we thought we’d share some of our vehicle inspectors’ stories to highlight why they’re worthwhile, even if you or a mate knows a thing or two about cars.
To the untrained naked eye, a vehicle can appear as smooth as a baby’s bottom. But dig deeper and you may find the vehicle has had more hits than Justin Bieber.
It’s all too easy for the average buyer to be deceived by a vehicle’s condition simply based on its exterior appearance. Vehicles are sometimes groomed in a manner to be as presentable as possible using a variety of car care products.
To assess a vehicle’s structure, attention should be applied to: seams, welds, paintwork (colour variation) and even points where chassis straightening equipment might have been used.
Vehicle inspectors can often determine whether the vehicle has been involved in a collision from the assessment of these points.
Our vehicle inspectors occasionally notice things such as a missing jack or spare tyre, but sometimes we’re lost for words.
On one inspection of a four-wheel drive vehicle the inspector noticed the rear-drive shaft had been removed. The vehicle still ran, but was limited to two-wheel drive. Another inspector found a vehicle was missing the front bumper bar (the steel piece behind the plastic) — a crucial part of the frontal impact zone.
The inside of vehicles can be stained with food and drink which can cause lingering, unpleasant smells. Or the smell of tobacco.
Then you have the more important engine smells.
● Sweet smells of coolant leaks, possibly indicating overheating.
● Burnt toast smells of electrical shorts or melting insulation.
●The smell of burning oil dripping on the engine block or exhaust manifold.
Our inspectors often find engines with extensive oil leaks, broken mounts or a misfiring engine cylinder which can lead to big repair bills down the track.
The most important check of any inspection is safety. We have found genuine safety features in vehicles purposely disabled.
A prime example is someone who has a dash warning light — this isn’t going to help sell the vehicle, so the owner may remove the bulb to disguise a fault. It seems ludicrous but it happens. And the cost of reinstating these features can be significant — but necessary for a WoF.