The idea for this post was prompted by a customer who called me today, looking to have a pre-purchase inspection on a used Corvette. During our discussion of the corvette, I mentioned a recent story, where a customer purchased a Mercury Sable without an inspection.
The new owner of the Sable, brought it into the shop because the check engine light was on. The vehicle looked to be in decent shape with lower mileage (~70K on the clock). After checking the trouble codes, and finding a trans fault, I recommended a vehicle inspection.
What we found next was very surprising. The list of needed repairs included: front ball joints, an outer tie rod end, leaking wheel cylinders, broken rear springs, rear tires and more. That was not all though, there were previous improper repairs to brake lines as well as evidence of a rear end collision.
Now had the customer taken the vehicle in for an inspection before purchase he could have avoided this situation. Now he has a $2,000 car that needs possibly $4K+ dollars of work to make it safe to drive. The moral is a small inspection fee is a very valuable investment.
On another note, I am leery of dealer inspections or check lists after seeing some of the things I have seen while working in this industry. I am not saying all dealers are out to rip you off, though it is in their best interest to skip over items that if repaired cut their profits. An independent inspection, is just that an unbiased opinion.