At TSC Ford Specialist, we’re fans of the Ford brand, but we still advise people to get a used vehicle inspection for the Ford car or truck you want to buy. Many people opt to purchase used vehicles versus new, so it’s important to ensure that everything is satisfactory. Many used Fords have great value left in them, but it’s imperative to do your research and know all there is to know about the purchase beforehand. Set your budget, run a Carfax report, get an inspection, and if it just doesn’t feel right, walk away.
Here is what you will need to know when getting a used vehicle inspection.
If you are buying a used Ford vehicle from a reputable dealership, it’s likely that there has already been a used vehicle inspection. Many dealers have certified pre-owned vehicle programs, and cars must pass hefty inspections to get certified. The Federal Trade Commission also requires dealers to post a buyer’s guide in every vehicle for sale, stating whether the car is for sale “as is” or if it comes with a warranty. If you want to make absolutely sure a dealership didn’t skimp on its inspection, you’re also well within your rights to have a third party inspection.
A private party purchase of a used vehicle is a whole other story. The responsibility will be yours to do your due diligence in finding out if the vehicle was in an accident, has structural damage, if it is safe and in good condition, or if it requires repair services. If you have a great mechanic that you trust and work with, that is a great starting point when getting your inspection done.
Another option is a mobile inspector will come to your location to inspect the vehicle. They will often print out a complete report right then and there and provide it to the seller or buyer, including photos of any damage they found. And your third option is finding an auto shop that specializes in used vehicle inspections like TSC Ford Specialist. Opting for an inspection by a shop comes with advantages. They can use a lift to thoroughly check the underside of the vehicle, and of course, they have more specialized equipment than a mobile mechanic with a bag of tools.
What’s included in a vehicle inspection? Most reputable companies will inspect the exterior, engine, brake system, tires, radiator, belts, hoses and fluids, and it costs around $100$300 on average. They will also look for a car that has poor bodywork, water damage, frame damage, even damaged upholstery from smoking. You will leave the inspection knowing the general condition of the vehicle, as well as its overall value which could be used as a bargaining chip with a dealer or private seller.
Now that you know how important it is to get a used vehicle inspection, let’s break down the process in more detail, including items you could be looking for as well:
- Look for any rust damage on the fenders, panels, and roof
- Look for scratches, dents, dings and shoddy bodywork
- The paint color should be the same on each panel, look for blistered paint
- Be sure to check the wheel wells using a flashlight
- Open and close all doors, hatches, and trunk to ensure they are functioning easily, try out keys
- Check the glass of the vehicle for rock chip marks and body for hail damage, it could give you some bargaining power
- Check the suspension by walking around the car and noticing how level it sits on the ground
- Push down on all four corners and see if the car bounces back – if so, the suspension is not good
- Pull back and forth on each tire to check the wheel bearings, ticking and clicks are not good
- Check all the lights, signals and reflectors by having someone turn them off and on
Finally, tires are an excellent indicator of what a car may have gone through. A red flag is a low mileage car with new tires. This could mean the odometer was turned back. Check that all four tires are the same brand and model. Tread and wear should also be uniform. Ask if they have been rotated and how often, and check the sidewalks for bulging, cracks and scuff marks. Don’t forget to check the spare tire along with the jack and lug wrench.
- Check for odors, such as smoke, mold, food smells on the carpeting, seats, and trunk
- Check the seats by sitting in each one and adjusting the positions, checking for rips and tears
- Check the rubber on all the driving pedals for wear
- Turn on all instruments and controls, including heaters and AC functions, sound system, etc.
- Check the headliner for stains and wear, and if there is a sunroof be sure it is properly sealed and the rubber is not too worn
- Inspect convertibles thoroughly, ensuring there are no tears
- Check the trunk for odors, leaks, or water damage
Under the Hood:
- Check all hoses and belts for wear and cracks
- Inspect fluids levels and for discoloration
- Check radiator for proper color – if it’s cloudy, rusty or milky, this is a bad sign
- Check the battery conditions to ensure they are charging properly
Under the Vehicle:
- Feel the tailpipe for residue, black and greasy means burnt oil
- Look for any leaks or rust
- Check the tightness of all components
- Look for dents or damage on the fuel tank
- Welding seams or fresh undercoating could indicate problems
Remember, if you don’t already have a trusted inspector, be sure to do your research on the subject. Look for certification in the shop’s windows such as the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, AAA certified garages, and ASE certified shops. You can also check with the Better Business Bureau for their ratings, and of course, recommendations are always a good idea too.
TSC Ford Specialist is always a good choice for a used vehicle inspection. They know that if you’re buying a second-hand Ford truck or car, going with a great brand is only half the story. How the vehicle is driven and maintained is the real mystery. And only an inspection can give you insight into the unknown. Our company specializes in all makes and models of Ford trucks and cars. When you are buying a used Ford and need a complete and honest inspection, why go anywhere else? Give us a call today.