Once you’ve found the car that you think is “the one,” it’s tempting to rush through the buying process so you can get into the driver’s seat as soon as possible. But before you fully commit, there’s one more important step you need to make and that’s to take the car for a pre-purchase inspection (PPI).
What is a PPI?
A PPI is performed by a qualified and licensed mechanic or auto technician, who will give the vehicle a thorough inspection to determine the cosmetic, mechanical and safety condition of the car. The mechanic will pinpoint any current and existing conditions as well as highlight potential issues that could arise in the future. By learning more about what’s happening underneath the hood, you’ll either feel more confident that you’re making a great investment or you’ll discover that there are a few hidden conditions that could give you more leverage with price negotiations. The PPI usually costs around $100 to $200, depending on the service centre and the extent of the inspection, and can take anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours, depending on the car. The technician will examine the exterior of the car, the interior, under the hood and will also investigate the under carriage. Many quality service centres also conduct a test drive to see what’s happening with the car when it’s in motion.
Where can I get one?
If you’re buying from a dealer, then many dealerships can conduct the PPI onsite. They should also be open to you taking the vehicle for an inspection by an independent mechanic. As a consumer, it’s your right to have a PPI and usually a non-binding offer to purchase and a refundable deposit are considered acceptable pre-conditions to an inspection. If you are getting the inspection done offsite, or you’re dealing with a private seller then ideally, you’ll want to take the vehicle to a mechanic that you already have a great relationship with. If you don’t have a go-to service centre, then you can ask the dealership for recommendations. CAA has a list of preferred partners as does the Automobile Protection Agency (APA). The APA also has an inspection form on its website that you can print off and take into the shop.
A pre-purchase inspection is the final step to making sure the car you’re considering is the right vehicle for you. By arming yourself with information from a PPI and a CARPROOF report, you can be confident about the history of the vehicle as well as its current state.