Before spending your hard-earned money on a used car, be sure to first get a pre-purchase inspection. Even if the vehicle seems to be in good condition, you shouldn’t take any chances. To avoid becoming the owner of a lemon, always allow an experienced mechanic to check out the vehicle beforehand. Here are the most important components that need to be examined for potential problems.

#1 Pre-Purchase Inspections Include Thoroughly Inspecting The Vehicle's Engine

During a pre-purchase inspection, your mechanic will be examining the condition of the vehicle’s engine. It should idle smoothly without any rough vibrations. Exhaust smoke is a definite red flag. While white smoke often indicates a bad head gasket, bluish smoke points to a worn engine seal.

After test driving the vehicle, your mechanic will have a good idea of the engine’s overall condition. There should be no performance issues. If the vehicle displays sluggish acceleration or hesitates, you’ll probably be advised against buying it.

#2  Included In A Pre-Purchase Inspection, Examination Of The Car, Truck, SUV, or Minivan's Frame

When shopping for a used ride, many people forget to examine the vehicle’s frame. This can lead to a lot of unexpected trouble in the long run. If your mechanic discovers frame damage during the pre-purchase inspection, the vehicle may have been involved in a serious collision.

You never, ever want to buy a used vehicle that was in a major accident. A bent frame could make it virtually impossible for the vehicle to maintain proper wheel alignment. Not only does this problem impact your safety, but it will also lead to premature tire wear. Rust is also a big concern, especially for vehicles that have spent a lot of time in snow-prone regions. Over time, road salt can gradually eat away at the surrounding metal.

#3  A Very Necessary Vehicle Component, The Transmission. Another Key Item That Having A Pre-Purchase Inspection Could Save You From Having To Replace In Your New To You Vehicle 

A bad transmission can cause you a great deal of stress. Aside from leaving you stranded on the side of the road, it can also be expensive to replace. Although the transmission may seem flawless during your initial test drive, there could be some hidden problems that you don’t know about. This is another reason why a pre-purchase inspection is so critical.

While the average driver will notice obvious issues like delayed shifting and grinding gears, an experienced mechanic will be looking for other problems. Checking the transmission fluid is of the utmost importance. Fluid that has a burnt appearance indicates overheating, which can ultimately destroy a transmission. A low level of transmission fluid is just as concerning.

#4  A Properly Functioning Exhaust System Is An Essential Portion Of A Functioning Vehicle. Having A Pre-Purchasse Inspection Can Also Save You From Having To Make Costly Exhaust Repairs Soon After Your New Vehicle Purchase 

Don’t overlook the importance of a vehicle’s exhaust. When there’s a leak in the system, you and your passengers are exposed to toxic fumes. Carbon monoxide poisoning becomes a real possibility. You definitely don’t want to put your loved ones at risk of getting sick.

One of the biggest parts of an exhaust system is the catalytic converter. Prior to completing his pre-purchase inspection, your mechanic will make sure this component is functioning properly. Before you can even pass the NC state emissions test in Raleigh, a bad catalytic converter will need to be replaced. It'll eventually trigger a check engine light.

#5.  Lastly, A Pre-Purchase Inspection Looks Closely At The Automobiles Braking System

For good reason, the brakes are often among the first parts checked during a pre-purchase inspection. When encountering an unexpected road hazard, you need maximum stopping power. Before a mechanic gives you the okay to buy a pre-owned vehicle, he will make sure it’s safety is up to par.

It’s relatively easy to determine whether or not a vehicle stops effectively. However, automotive professionals dive deeper into the overall condition of the brakes. They check for overlooked issues like caliper rust and worn rotors.

If you spend a lot of time in your vehicle, you know when things don't feel quite right. You may feel some pull in the steering or hear noises that weren't occurring before. The vehicle may feel like it is losing power or not braking as well as it should. Any number of issues can compromise the safety of your automobile. Which is why it's of the upmost importance that Creech Import inspect your vehicle for maximum safety on a routine basis.

Let's consider the top issues that are addressed in a safety inspection below

Inspect Your Vehicle's Steering and Suspension

If your steering and suspension are damaged or excessively worn, it is easy to lose control of your vehicle and crash. The problem may be manageable when you are cruising around town to get groceries on a nice day. However, if you let the problem go, it will magnify on days when the weather is bad or in other traffic situations. Creech Import will thoroughly inspect your vehicle. We check all the ball joints, tie rods, and front-end bushings for excessive play and signs of damage.

Testing the suspension for problems is a little trickier. Traditionally, the rocker test was used to determine the strength of the suspension. The mechanic would simply rock the vehicle up and down to determine if there was excessive travel or play in the suspension. Nowadays, this test is still used but is not as reliable if the vehicle simply has a softer suspension.

Checking the shocks for leakage, corrosion, or damage to the dust boots that prevent this problem is another essential aspect of an inspection. The seals on the struts can get damaged if the dust boots deteriorate. Then, the hydraulic fluid will leak out, and the shocks won't dampen the road vibrations. We also check the springs to see if they are rusted out or broken.

Inspect Your Vehicle's Brake System

Another essential part of any safety inspection is a complete brake system check. At Creech Import, we can check the quality of your brake fluid and flush it if it has deteriorated. Brake fluid is hygroscopic, a fancy term meaning that it absorbs moisture from the air. Because it absorbs moisture so rapidly, it has to be flushed every 2 or 3 years to ensure optimal brake performance. Too much moisture in the fluid will cause it to boil off under heavy braking, which causes pressure losses and a spongy pedal. The moisture will also cause internal corrosion if it is not replaced with fresh hydraulic brake fluid.

We also check the pads for excessive or irregular wear and the rotors for the same. We often find that customers have warped rotors from having poor service performed at other shops. When shops remove your wheel lug nuts, they often lack the specific torque specs to properly mount the tires. They may over-tighten the lug nuts and warp the face of the rotors. When this happens, the brakes will send vibrations through the subframe and steering wheel when you brake hard at high speeds. This is very unsafe and can cause an accident if it goes unchecked.

Brakes can also lose their power if you have a vacuum leak anywhere in the engine bay.........

Your engine produces vacuum (suction power) as an inherent result of the piston downstrokes creating negative pressure. This vacuum pulls in the air needed for combustion in a naturally aspirated engine. If you have a leak in an injector seal, a vacuum hose, or the vacuum brake booster, itself, you will notice a considerable loss of braking power.

If your master cylinder is worn, this can, likewise, compromise the effectiveness of your braking. You may feel excessive pedal travel, a worn master cylinder is usually the case. In other cases, it can be an improper adjustment of the eccentric in a hybrid rotor and drum brake system. These self-adjusting mechanisms may need to be lubricated or replaced to function properly.


These are just a few of the key aspects of a thorough safety inspection. At Creech Import you can rest assured that your vehicle will be among the safest on the roads when you bring it in for service. We have a depth of automotive knowledge to spot any tiny issues and can repair them before they wax worse.

Are you are in the market for a new or used vehicle? Have you considered the value of a pre-purchase inspection? A pre-purchase inspection is when Creech Import performs a comprehensive inspection to appraise the value of a vehicle and to ensure that you are making a solid investment.

Pre-Purchase Inspection Your Next Inspection

Having an automotive expert in your corner to determine the real value of a vehicle and not a lemon. Also,  this process can help you obtain financing from a bank. Also, banks do not like to lend a lot of money for used vehicles because they can have hidden problems. This will put you underwater on the loan when the repairs cost more than the vehicle is worth.

Only an expert knows exactly what to look for and how to determine the value of a car. There are so many factors to consider that are sometimes unique to a particular vehicle and other times unique to a particular condition that can universally affect any vehicle.

Only Trust An Expert Inspector

Having the wisdom of an expert inspector is even more important when you are considering an investment in classic cars. For a small price, you can remove a world of burdens off your shoulders.

Even if the vehicle looks like it is in mint condition from the outside, there may be rust repairs, accident repairs, premature engine wear, electrical gremlins, flood damage, or just bad engineering for innovative features that the manufacturer wants to beta test on you.

In the very least, a pre-purchase inspection will help you identify wear spots and what you can expect to replace the vehicle over the next few years. The technicians at Creech Import are best situated to determine how well a prospective vehicle was maintained by the owner.

Follow The Correct Maintenance Routine

We can often tell from the little things and the maintenance routine of how neglected it may have been. If the engine is currently running conventional oil, it is doubtful that the owner is following factory service recommendations. Also, this tells me that they don't care a whole lot about maintenance. All the little things you may never consider light up in the mind of mechanics who experience these issues and inspect vehicles for a living.

We have an eye to look for aftermarket parts and obvious lapses in maintenance. We can even look through the maintenance history and title history of a vehicle to get a more thorough background. Many times previous owners do not list prior accidents and flood damage.

You'd be surprised at the type of lemons that dealers and private parties try to sell. Checking for computer faults, road-testing the vehicle, assessing the age of the tires, and examining the body for signs of rust and repairs. These are just a few elements of a pre-purchase inspection.

Damaged Vehicles

It is easy to patch up a severely damaged vehicle with rust or accident damage using fiberglass resin filler and a can of color-matched spray paint. The problem with rust is that there is no guarantee that it won't return. Most new vehicles are using a lot of hybrid metal combinations. That's why it's easy for something as basic as a windshield repair to lead to cancer.

There are different types of damages in used vehicles that only an expert who has seen the end result of, after years of neglected upkeep, will recognize. Also, the technicians at Creech Import know exactly how your vehicle is supposed to perform and how it should respond to braking, steering, and shifting inputs.

There are many advantages to having an automotive expert when you are about to lay down cash on any vehicle. We know the weak spots and can in the very least help you in negotiations. We can help by citing the damage the owner may not have noticed. Lastly, Contact us to see how we can help!

Currently, 17 states in the U.S. require Safety Inspections. If you reside in one of these states, it is important to know what they are looking for prior to the inspection. The list below will highlight the common items that are checked during an inspection. It is highly recommended that this inspection is performed by a reputable shop such as Creech Imports.


This may seem obvious, but all of your exterior lights should be working. Also, there should be no damage to any of the lenses. If your headlight lenses are heavily oxidized, the problem should be corrected prior to the inspection. Poor or no lighting is a major factor in many accidents.


Typically, you will hear or feel when your vehicle has a brake problem, but it is a good idea to inspect them at specific intervals to prevent expensive damage or failure. The wheels should be removed to check for sufficient brake pad or shoe lining. The rotors and drums should be inspected for warpage, deep grooves, wear, or any other damage. The brake lines and hoses should also be checked for cracks or abnormalities. There should be absolutely no leaks in the system. The master cylinder reservoir should be adequately filled, and the fluid should not be discolored. Check the brake pedal for firmness. It should not push down too close to the floor. The parking brake should catch approximately at mid-travel and hold the vehicle in place on an incline.


While turning the wheel from side to side, there should be no lag, looseness, or noises from the system. The power steering reservoir should be filled, and the fluid should not be discolored. If your system has a belt, it should be free of cracks, breaks, wear or other problems. While driving the vehicle, the steering should be responsive, and the wheel should stay centered when driving on a straight smooth road. There should be no leaks in the system.


The suspension should be stable and noise free at all times. It also should have precise handling. While driving, the vehicle should not continuously bounce up and down on bumpy or smooth roads. While parked, push down on the vehicle in the front and back. It should quickly bounce back up once and stabilize. Multiple bounces indicate a possible problem with the shocks or struts. The vehicle should also be raised to inspect the suspension components for any torn boots, worn bushings, looseness, or any other damage.

Fuel System

If the vehicle is running well and doesn't have a check engine light, the fuel system should be in good shape. It is important to clean the fuel system regularly to prevent problems. If you smell fuel, check the gas cap and all the fuel lines to ensure there are no leaks. Sometimes faulty emissions systems can cause fuel smells. Typically if this is the case, the check engine light will illuminate.

Tires and Wheels

The tires should not have any breaks, cracks, bubbles, dry rotting, or any other abnormalities. The tread should also be sufficient and evenly worn. The wheels should not be bent, corroded, or cracked.


The horn should be functional. If not, it will have to be repaired prior to the inspection. It may not always seem like it, but the horn is an important safety item.


All of the glass should be free of cracks, breaks, or any damage that would reduce visibility. The windows and door locks should work properly. The doors should also properly open and stay closed.


The seats should be in adequate condition and securely mounted to the floor. The seatbelts should work and have no damage. If equipped, the airbag light should go out after startup.


The floor of the vehicle should not have any holes in it.

Emissions Systems

The emissions system components should be all installed and functioning properly. The check engine light will indicate if there is a problem in the system.

Engine Compartment/Undercar- There should be no major leaks of any kind under the hood or beneath the vehicle.

For more specific safety inspection guidelines for your area, check with your local mechanic or motor vehicle department.

Click here to schedule your next State Safety Inspection.