The Who, What, When, Where, and Why of a
Professional Pre-Purchase Inspection (PPI)
Welcome to UsedCarInspections.ORG. This is a non-profit consumer site on how to get a used vehicle properly
inspected before purchase. A few minutes reviewing this
information can save you
thousands of dollars and headaches down the road.
Today's used vehicles are technological marvels. They contain
very sophisticated mechanical and electrical systems, complex frame construction, and have
a multitude of computers controlling most systems and components.
Selecting an Automotive Technician to perform a pre-purchase
inspection (PPI) is one of the
most important decisions when buying a vehicle. The information below will help you
select a qualified Technician, and explain what information you'll need from the Technician.
The #1 reason vehicles with existing problems are purchased is the buyer
did not determine the current condition.
Before you purchase any used vehicle, be sure to
Myths, & Mistakes made by used car buyers.
Beware of the limitations of a Carfax report.
Carfax, or any history report, are not physical
inspections and cannot be substituted for a physical inspection. Don't let a
salesperson or seller talk you out of your right it have a professional
inspection performed before your purchase by using a "clean" Carfax report.
Most accidents are not reported to Carfax and a history report cannot tell you
the current condition of any mechanical or electrical systems or component.
What Type of Automotive Technician Do You Need?
There can be considerable differences from one Automotive Technician to another. Most Automotive Technicians are
the National Institute for
Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).
To become an
ASE Certified Technician, a Technician must
have the working experience and pass at least one of the 8 general automotive
testing areas. If a Technicians obtains the working experience on
all 8 areas and then pass all 8 tests, he will then have
the highest certification, "ASE
Certified Master Technician". A professional PPI requires that every mechanical and electrical system
be tested and evaluated. Only an ASE Certified Master Technician is certified no on every
mechanical and electrical system.
Certified Master Technicians are only qualified to inspect the mechanical and electrical
systems. Master Technicians are not qualified on
body and frame systems.
A professional PPI requires the Technician to be an ASE Certified Master Technician
AND a certified body & frame specialist (Structural and
AN ASE CERTIFIED MASTER TECHNICIAN & FRAME SPECIALIST IS QUALIFIED TO INSPECT AND
EVALUATE THE ENTIRE VEHICLE (MECHANICAL, ELECTRICAL, BODY & FRAME).
A comprehensive PPI can be either
performed by a mobile service or a fixed location. Mobile van should be
outfitted with all the necessary inspection and diagnostic toools, hydraulic
lifts and computer testing equipment.
What Type of Information Do You Need from a
comprehensive inspection, and consultation, by a ASE Master Technician & Frame
Specialist should give you the answers
(in plain English) to each of the following questions:
What is the current condition of each mechanical and
The ASE Master Technician & Frame Specialist should inspect each and every
system to identify any existing mechanical and electrical problems and
any potential problems. The Master Technician should also be able to tell
you if the previous owner(s) took care of the vehicle or abused or misused the
What is the approximate cost to fix each problem
including needed repairs and maintenance items?
The Master Technician & Frame Specialist should identify each problem and put any needed repairs
in terms of miles and money. For example, the front brakes have 15,000 miles
remaining, the cracked CV-boot will cost $300 to replace, the timing belt needs to be
replaced in 10,000 miles at the cost of $800, etc...
Is the wear
on the vehicle consistent with the mileage on the odometer?
The Master Technician
& Frame Specialist should determine
if the mileage on the odometer is consistent with the actual amount of wear
and tear on the vehicle. Excessive wear and tear will be signs of odometer fraud
or an abused vehicle.
Has the vehicle been in an accident or any signs of water damage? If so, what was the
extent of the damages, and what are the quality of the repairs?
The Master Technician
& Frame Specialist should tell you what type of frame system (full frame or
Unibody, and reveal any previous
body and/or frame damage and the quality of any repairs. The
Technician should also be able to tell you if the vehicle has any water or flood damage.
Knowledge is Money.
The more you know about a used vehicle the better
deal you can make. The buyer is responsible to determine its true condition before purchase. Having the vehicle
professionally inspected by a qualified ASE Master Technician & Frame
Specialists will help you negotiate a
better deal, and avoid purchasing someone else's problem vehicle. Here are
the 1-2-3 Steps for buying a good used vehicle.
Costs for a
Expect to pay
about $150 for a professional inspection as
describe above. Be aware that there will always be individuals and companies that will charge much less,
but the vehicle would not be inspected by a ASE Certified Master Technician and Frame
Specialist. Any problems not discovered BEFORE purchase will be your
responsibility AFTER the purchase. Like most things, you get what you pay for.
What a PPI Can and Cannot Tell You.
A PPI is a snapshot of the vehicle's current
condition. A professional PPI should discover all existing
problems, previous accident and frame damage, and any abuse and misuse of the
vehicle. Knowing this information before purchase will help you negotiate a
better deal and avoid costly existing problems.
NOTE: There are no diagnostic tests or equipment that will let
an Automotive Technician know when a mechanical or electrical component will fail. A professional
pre-purchase inspection by an ASE Master Technician and Frame Specialists will
discover existing problems and accident
damage and signs of abuse before you buy. Every vehicle will require
maintenance and every component or system will fail at some time
regardless of any professional PPI.
The #1 reason vehicles with existing problems are purchased is the
buyers' inability to determine the current condition before purchase.
Here is more information to help you buy a good used car:
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