Is it Worth it to Get a Post-Purchase Inspection on a Car You Just Bought?

If you’re planning on purchasing a used car, then a pre-purchase inspection is highly recommended. A car is a large purchase, so it would be a shame to buy it and drive it home, only to find out later that you’ll need to spend a few hundred to thousands of dollars on some hefty repairs. But what if you don’t have the time to get the car inspected before you buy it? In that case, a post-purchase inspection can still save you some money.

What is a post-purchase car inspection?

 A mechanic inspects a wheel on a car in his shop.
A mechanic inspects a wheel on a car in his shop. | (Stefano Guidi/Getty Images)

Just as the name implies, a post-purchase inspection is when you have a car that you just purchased inspected by a qualified mechanic. It might seem pointless, since you already purchased the car, however, it can offer a few benefits. For example, if you’re purchasing the car from a dealership, they might only let you take it to certain mechanics in close proximity to the dealership (to cut down on the car’s mileage). However, with a post-purchase inspection, you’ll have free reign to take the car wherever you want.

Additionally, post-purchase inspections are typically far more detailed and the mechanic will even do a compression check on the engine to make sure that it’s running correctly. Of course, the level of detail in the inspection depends highly on the shop that you take the car to.

What is the point of getting a car inspected after the sale?

 A mechanic examines an ambulance at the Kyivmedspetstrans Communal Enterprise, Kyiv, capital of Ukraine.
A mechanic examines an ambulance at the Kyivmedspetstrans Communal Enterprise, Kyiv, capital of Ukraine. | (Hennadii Minchenko/ Ukrinform/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Safety and reliability are the key points to getting a post-purchase inspection done. We know, you already bought the car, so it’s not like you can return it. But the main point of having a post-purchase inspection done is along the same lines as a pre-purchase inspection; it can shed light on any potential issues later on. Also, since post-purchase inspections are typically more detailed, they can uncover more issues than pre-purchase inspection sometimes can.

That works out even better if the used car that you bought has still has a warranty attached to it. By having a post-purchase inspection done, the mechanic can check if any of the needed repairs are covered under your car’s warranty. That way, you won’t even have to pay for them. However, it would be wise to consult with the dealership that you bought it from first since some warranty stipulations require the car to have its warranty work done by the dealership you bought it from.

How much does a post-purchase inspection cost?

Jiyan Kizilboga, the apprentice automotive mechatronics technician, inspects marten damage to a VW Touran in a Volkswagen workshop in the Hanover region.
Jiyan Kizilboga, the apprentice automotive mechatronics technician, inspects marten damage to a VW Touran in a Volkswagen workshop in the Hanover region. | (Julian Stratenschulte/picture alliance via Getty Images)

The cost of a post-purchase inspection can vary depending on the car that you have and the shop that you take it to. For example, if you just bought a high-end exotic or luxury car, then you can expect to pay around $200 to $300 for the inspection (maybe more). But if you have a commuter car, then you might only need to pay anywhere from $50 to $200 depending on the shop. Also, note that a detailed post-purchase inspection can include the following:

  • Verification that all interior and exterior knobs, buttons, and handles are functioning properly
  • A compression test to make sure that the engine is running well
  • A thorough check of all of the car’s suspension and steering components
  • An evaluation of the car’s other vital parts including the tires and brake system
  • A thorough check of the car’s engine external components and related fluids
  • A test drive to check for any drivability issues

You can expect a post-purchase inspection to last a couple of hours, but again, it really depends on the shop that you take the car to. Otherwise, while a post-purchase inspection might sound counter-intuitive, it can actually save you a lot of money, and a lot of headaches, later on.

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