“Trust me: it’s a good car.”
“You don’t need a prepurchase inspection, we can offer you a powertrain warranty.”
“We’ve done an inspection on this vehicle and it all checks out.”
Those were comments made by the salesman to a recent client who brought in a 1997 Nissan Quest for a prepurchase inspection. Fortunately our client was smart and insisted on an inspection, and it is something that should be done every time you purchase a vehicle.
You really don’t know by just driving it what potentially expensive repairs may be required.
This vehicle was only priced at $2900 and was 15 years old so I wasn’t expecting perfection. On the plus side there were only 124,000 kilometers on the clock and the body and interior were in good condition.
Phase One of Our Prepurchase Inspection
We walk around the vehicle, inspect the interior controls and then go for an extended road test. The vehicle felt fine with the exception of a slight wobble in the steering wheel probably caused by a bad tire. There was also a noticeable humming noise present when the engine was running. Overall the vehicle felt good.
Phase Two of the Pre-purchase Inspection
This involves an under hood and then an under vehicle inspection.
Under the hood, most everything looked very good except that the battery was in very poor condition (in spite of being only a year old).
Under the vehicle, on the hoist things looked good for the steering and suspension systems… except for a slight rack and pinion leak which in time will turn a into costly repair. The tires, as we suspected from the road test had problems: the rears were almost legally worn out and the fronts had several sidewall indentations.
Phase Three of the Inspection
This involves removing the wheels and inspecting the brakes, and here we found some concerns: front brake pads had 3 millimeters remaining which is close to worn out. Worse still, both rear wheel cylinders were leaking and on the right side badly enough to have soaked the brake shoes. Clearly these rear brakes would not pass a government safety inspection.
As a result of the inspection our client now knows fully what he is getting for his $2900:
A 15 year old van with low mileage and in pretty good condition overall but requiring some immediate repairs to brakes, tires and battery. Some time down the road repairs to the steering rack and the fuel pump (that was the humming noise that we mentioned earlier) will be needed. He can use this inspection to either negotiate a better price for the vehicle or simply move onto something else.
The prepurchase inspection gave him the truth in order to make an informed decision!