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Buying Used Car Inspection

No piece of car-buying advice is more often ignored than this: Have a mechanic inspect a used car before you buy it. Why do buyers plunk down thousands of dollars on a car with little more than an around-the-block test drive and a glance under the hood? Three reasons often deter car buyers from taking this vital step:

buying used car inspection

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  • Some consumers don't know that good used-car inspections are readily available.

  • Many car buyers don't want to pay the extra money for an inspection.

  • Some people anticipate a hassle getting a dealer or private party to agree to an inspection.

With a little planning, the inspection process can be simple, not to mention as revealing as a hidden-camera exposé. If the inspection report is clean, you can buy with increased confidence. If it unearths ugly problems, you can back away or negotiate a lower price to reflect the cost of repairs.

Most sellers will let you take the car for an inspection or agree to have a mobile inspection performed at their home or place of business. If the seller hesitates, you might wonder what they're hiding and consider walking away from the deal.

Experts agree that used cars must be inspected by a qualified specialist before the final negotiation for purchase. The ordinary car buyer, even if mechanically savvy, really can't do it justice. A thorough, professional inspection can tell you whether you're about to buy a peach or a lemon.

You should try to have the inspection performed by a mechanic with whom you've already built a relationship. And ideally, the inspection should include a test drive over a route that includes hills, bumps and potholes to reveal suspension problems and engine performance issues. Having a third party inspect and test the vehicle establishes trust and increases your familiarity with the car. Sure, there's a ton of information available on the web about every model, but what you need at this juncture is detailed information about this particular car. A professional inspection will tell you both what might be wrong with this vehicle and also what's right with it.

Smart sellers, too, know the value of a presale inspection. Having the car thoroughly scrutinized by a reliable third party before listing it provides an additional selling point in the form of a written report. While this is useful information and lends credibility to the seller, you should still insist on getting your own independent inspection before making the purchase.

Many people will be faced with the choice of having a mobile inspector look at a car or taking the vehicle to a local mechanic. While the most important thing is getting a qualified inspection, each method has its advantages and disadvantages.

A mobile inspection is fast and convenient. The inspector comes to your or the seller's home or office, performs the inspection on site, and prints out a report on the spot. Inspectors also photograph any damage, taking shots of the vehicle from different angles.

Online car-buying sites have given buyers access to thousands of vehicles they might never have found otherwise, but purchasing a car located far away can bring a number of potential problems. These might include out-and-out fraud, payment issues, paperwork difficulties and, critically, the inability to see the vehicle in person before committing to the sale. Here's where a presale inspection can help.

If you find a car you like in another part of the country, you should, of course, ask to see a lot of close-up photographs and get a vehicle history report. But a professional inspection will provide an important extra level of insurance that you're not buying a pack of trouble. And arranging an inspection that will take place elsewhere isn't that difficult.

Obviously, it isn't a great idea to rely on the seller to choose the person who will perform the inspection. If you know someone in the area where the car is located, you can ask them to recommend a reliable mechanic. Failing that, a dealership that sells that model of vehicle can generally be trusted to provide an accurate assessment. And if you're the one ordering and paying for the inspection, the report should come directly to you and not through the seller.

There are also several inspection services, such as Alliance Inspection Management and Automobile Inspections, that specialize in assisting buyers with long-distance purchases. As a last resort, a web search and careful examination of online user reviews can turn up an independent shop in the seller's area that can do the job for you.

If the vehicle happens to be an exotic or collector car, online forums and clubs can be a great source of information. Individuals who live near the seller and own the same type of vehicle will likely be able to recommend reliable mechanics in the area. Some may even be familiar with the exact car you're thinking about buying.

While no inspection is guaranteed to find every flaw in a used car, a trained eye can help you avoid serious problems. A good mechanic, inspector or dealership technician will know what to look for and will have the equipment needed to provide a reliable assessment of a vehicle's condition, including the all-important safety equipment. Given thousands of dollars are at stake, an hour of your time and a reasonable fee are good insurance against the unknown.

While this could be something you negotiate with the seller, typically the buyer will cover the cost of the inspection, which usually ranges from $100-$200. This price can be higher or lower depending on the level of detail with which the inspection is conducted.

Prior to entering into any agreement for the retail sale of a used car, the New Jersey used car dealer shall inquire as to whether the used car to be purchased is intended for registration in this in the condition sold and, if so, such fact shall be specified in the written agreement between the New Jersey used car dealer and the used car buyer and the dealer, prior to execution of the used car sale agreement, shall inform the used car buyer of the dealer's responsibilities under the New Jersey Used Car Inspection Law.

Any used car retail sale agreement may contain a provision whereby the used car buyer waives the New Jersey used car dealer's obligation under section 2 of the Used Car Inspection Law; provided, however, any such waiver must be separately stated in the used car agreement of retail sale and separately signed by the used car buyer. The signing of such a waiver by the used car buyer shall also serve to eliminate any criminal responsibility placed upon THE dealer by the Used Car Inspection Law.

This firm does not guarantee or warrant or assume responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the information contained on this website. This site shall not be used or relied upon by any person as a substitute for competent legal advice by an attorney admitted to practice law in the appropriate jurisdiction, for information contained in federal or state statute books of official reporters or the interpretation of such statutes by courts of competent jurisdictions.

IRS Circular 230 Notice: To ensure compliance with certain regulations promulgated by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, we inform you that any federal tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by any taxpayer for the purpose of (1) avoiding tax-related penalties under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, or (2) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any tax-related matters addressed herein, unless expressly stated otherwise.

Before you buy a used car, you have to make sure it is safe to drive and does not require expensive repairs. You want to check for signs of a serious accident, water and fire damage, and poor maintenance. If you are going to be sure you are buying a reliable set of wheels, you will need to take it to a professional mechanic to check for details you might miss. A professional used-car pre-purchase inspection verifies all components of the car are working, reveals obscure defects in its body, frame, and engine, and establishes its general condition. More than that, it increases your familiarity with the car and helps to build confidence in your purchase.

You can ask a mechanic you trust to accompany you to the dealership and inspect the car on the lot. Alternatively, you can take it to an independent auto diagnostic clinic. Most reputable auto dealerships allow prospective buyers to take cars off the lot for inspection. Typically, they will send a salesperson to accompany you to the repair shop of your choice. If a seller is reluctant to let you have the car independently inspected (a sales manager may cite insurance restrictions, for example), it is a sign he is hiding something. Walk away.

A mobile inspector could also be your only option if you are buying from a distance or cannot make it to the inspection. He can take close-up photographs of any damage the car has, advise you on its condition and reliability, and tell you right away if it is a good buy. The report he or she generates on the state of the car should come directly to you and not through the seller.

Although mobile car inspections are fast and convenient, they are not as comprehensive as auto diagnostic clinics. A mechanic will only carry a jack, code reader, and other light equipment to the dealership lot.

Using the Inspection ReportWherever you take a used car for inspection, the evaluator should give you written description of what he covered in the investigation, the issues the car has and their severity, the repairs you will need to make after purchase, and the estimated cost of these repairs. The evaluator may include a purchase recommendation if the vehicle is in excellent condition.

If there are only a few cosmetic issues that blemish an otherwise spotless used car pre-purchase inspection report, you can proceed with the purchase in confidence. Relatively easy-to-fix issues are nothing to worry about because nearly all used cars have a few minor problems. Rather than getting hung up on these issues, use them to challenge the asking price. A detailed inspection report, especially one with estimates of repair costs, is a great bargaining tool. 041b061a72

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