Buyers Guide: Why you should get a pre purchase car inspection
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A comprehensive pre-purchase inspection (PPI) is an incredibly valuable service to car buyers that shouldn’t be overlooked.
An in-depth inspection can often uncover secrets of a vehicle’s past that you may not spot yourself and can better protect you from making a poor investment.
Heading into Christmas, many of us have stretched budgets, so the last thing you may want to do is purchase a PPI on every single vehicle you may like.
So, before you commit, we recommend you take the time to conduct some of your own DIY checks to help whittle down your shortlist to just the top contenders.
What to look for during an initial inspection
Start with having a good look under the bonnet.
Are there signs of leakage, corrosion or damage? Warming up the engine will make coolant leaks more apparent.
A freshly cleaned engine bay doesn’t really tell you much about the vehicle. Just because it’s clean or tidy, doesn’t mean it’s problem-free, so start with obvious indicators like the engine oil and lube sticker.
Thick, black oil is a sign that the engine may not have received adequate servicing or, if the oil level is extremely low, it may have an oil leak or an oil consumption problem.
Give the engine a good rev up from idle, up to about 3000rpm or about half its maximum rpm. A worn engine is more likely to smoke under these conditions.
Check for obvious damage and corrosion around the entire vehicle. The tyre condition can also be easily checked.
Run through all the features in the car, including windows, lights and mirrors, to see what works and what doesn’t.
Once you are satisfied with the overall condition, it’s time to hand the job over to the professionals for a more detailed assessment.
What can a professional PPI tell me?
●Diagnostic checks such as electronic relative compression tests, and head gasket checks can assess the engine’s health and may detect issues with its condition.
●Signs of recent repair, corrosion or evidence of underseal on the vehicle’s bodywork — are all tell-tale signs of prior issues; be it corrosion or a vehicle that has endured more bangs than a Salvation Army drum.
●Fluid leaks can be costly to repair and must be checked in detail from an experienced technician — from the engine and drive train, through to the cooling system.
●Batteries must be tested to ensure they are healthy, while faulty electronic systems, including diagnostic warning lights, can also spell disaster if they remain illuminated on the instrument cluster.
●A road test may uncover faults relating to the vehicle’s transmission, drive line and braking systems. These are usually evident through excessive noise and vibration, or unusual operation. An experienced technician may be able to advise what could be causing the issue.
What a PPI can’t do
No matter how good the inspection, a technician can look at the vehicle only as it is presented to them on the day.
They may not be able to foresee the future, but they can draw your attention to any warning signs or potential repairs — as long as they’re showing signs of materialising.
A good PPI can help alleviate much of the concern surrounding a vehicle’s condition and quality, then it’s up to you to decide whether you want to go ahead with purchasing the vehicle or not.