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What You Need to Know about a Pre-Purchase Inspection

Pre-purchase inspections can be beneficial for both the buyer and seller of a classic car. For the buyer, the inspection can assure the driver they’re getting a car that’s in good condition, and there won’t be any unexpectedly costly surprises. For the seller, it can prove that their car is in mint condition and validate the value which they’re choosing to sell the car for. Whichever perspective you’re approaching this from, here’s what you need to know about a pre-purchase inspection.

What’s a pre-purchase car inspection?

A pre-purchase inspection is where a professional will thoroughly inspect the entire vehicle for any evidence of structural, cosmetic, or mechanic damage before a buyer purchases it. The work is usually conducted by a licensed technician or mechanic. They will give you their expert opinion on whether the classic car is suitable for sale, which can save a buyer up to thousands of dollars by preventing them from buying a damaged car. In addition, if a mechanic discovers there are existing mechanical problems with the car, these problems can be used by the buyer to negotiate a better purchasing price from the owner. Classic car pre-purchase inspections can give buyers more peace of mind in their purchase because even if you’re an expert yourself, you can still possibly miss some damages that would cost you. A pre-purchase inspection allows you to know the classic vehicle you’re buying is worth the asking price.

Where do I get a pre-purchase car inspection?

One simple way you can get a pre-purchase inspection is through searching for the term “pre-purchase inspection near me” on a search engine. Among the options that are listed, narrow down your selection to ones that have years of experience, and numerous legitimate positive reviews. Be aware that if you’re purchasing your classic car from a dealership, they may offer to conduct an inspection for you on the spot. While their inspection might be helpful in some ways, they’ll have a conflict of interest with wanting to present the vehicle in a positive light, so you’ll be encouraged to buy it. You can allow them to offer you their inspection and take note of what they say. Then, you should hire a pre-purchase inspection company to validate if all of the information the car dealership provided in their inspection checks out. Remember to make sure that the pre-purchase inspection company has experience inspecting classic cars.

What’s involved with a pre-purchase inspection?

Before having the pre-purchase inspection done, request a CARFAX or vehicle history report to know if the classic car you’re considering has been in an accident. Knowing this information will help you and the person you’ve hired to inspect to know which areas of the vehicle need to be looked at closely. Once the owner has given you the vehicle history report, a few areas will be important to be checked out.

The first area of the car that should be closely looked at is the body panels. You and the professional you’ve hired should check the exterior of the car by walking around it. As you’re walking around the classic vehicle, look out for scratches, dents, rust, blemishes, or any kind of discoloration. Additionally, pay attention to uneven gaps, as this may indicate that the car received an accident repair. Assess the condition of the undercarriage, such as the frame and sub-frames.

Areas of the underbody such as the truck pan, the floor pans, and the rocker panels should also be assessed. Carefully examine for any evidence flooding, rusting, or collision damage. The condition of the door panels, carpets, consoles, upholstery, seats, dashboards, and headliners should all be evaluated. You should also evaluate the condition of the chrome, plastic, lenses, stainless steel, glass, chrome, and emblems. Be sure to confirm the presence of tools, accessories, and a spare wheel. When looking at the tires, see if they’re all the same brand and if there’s any cracking or bubbling on the sidewalls. As you’re observing tire tread, make sure there’s at least one-third inch of the tire tread that’s left on the tires. If you notice that the tread is uneven, that may indicate there’s a suspension issue.

When you pop the hood to start looking at the engine compartment, check for grease, coolant, and leaks. Make sure that the fluid levels are normal. Squeeze the hoses to confirm that they aren’t too hardened. Look over the overall condition of the drive-train, engine, and brakes. As you’re assessing the condition of the suspension, note if the car sits level. Bounce the corners to see if there are any suspension issues.

You should also verify the proper operation of lights, switches, mechanical and electrical levers, accessories, and controls. If the owner allows you to give the classic car a test drive, drive it around to check for any potential steering, braking, gear shifting, or exhaust system issues. Lastly, you’ll want to check the interior of the car for any mildew or mold smells. A classic that hasn’t been looked after well may show signs of water damage that can be sniffed out. Double-check the carpets for any evidence of water damage, mold, or mildew.

How much does a pre-purchase inspection cost?

In most cases, pre-purchase inspection will usually cost a few hundred dollars to have done. Nonetheless, the few hundred dollars you spend to make sure the classic car is in good condition could potentially save you thousands of dollars in unforeseen repairs. As mentioned earlier, search online for companies near you that perform pre-purchase inspections and choose a company within an affordable price range.

While it’s not necessary to get a pre-purchase inspection on a classic car you’re considering, it can possibly benefit you more than you expected. Even if you’re a car expert who’s had many years of experience collecting classic cars, it never hurts to have a second person evaluate your purchase for you. Consider looking into different pre-purchase inspection companies the next time you buy a classic car. If you’re interested in learning more about classic cars, you can find more information at this link:

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