Automotive Repair Tips Blog

4 Things People Should Check During a Pre-Purchase Inspection

December 8, 2021

4 Things People Should Check During a Pre-Purchase Inspection

Before buying a used vehicle, it’s always a good idea to first have it thoroughly looked over by a professional mechanic. If you fail to notice certain issues, this can lead to a financial nightmare later on down the road. The last thing you want is to become the new owner of a lemon. Below we discuss some of the biggest problems people forget to check for during a pre-purchase inspection.

Worn Timing Belt
Many of the used compact cars are engineered with a timing belt. This important part is designed to synchronize the rotation of the crankshaft and the camshaft, thus enabling the engine’s valves to open and close at the right time. Depending upon the particular make and model, the timing belt may also be responsible for powering the vehicle’s water pump.

Although a mechanic can check the condition of a timing belt during a pre-purchase inspection, they can only give you a rough estimate of how much life it has left. While a metal timing chain can last for the life of a vehicle, a timing belt must be replaced every 60,000 to 100,000 miles. If maintenance records aren’t available for the vehicle, the best approach is to simply have the timing belt replaced. Remember, this rubber component gradually starts to stretch with age. Not only will a broken timing belt leave you stranded, but it could also seriously damage the engine. This is the best measure to preventative measure to prevent this from becoming a headache later on

Exhaust Smoke
It is important to have a qualified mechanic to do your inspection. When amateurs perform a pre-purchase vehicle inspection, they often forget to look for exhaust smoke. Although you may not notice any exhaust smoke while you’re driving the vehicle, it could begin to blow out as the engine is idling.

This could indicate that there is a good chance the engine has worn valve seals, which are allowing motor oil to leak into the exhaust chamber. Failing to address the issue can cause a number of other problems, including a loss of power and contamination of the catalytic converter. Your engine will also be consuming oil at a much faster rate.

Bad Wheel Alignment
Be extremely careful about buying a used car that has a bad wheel alignment. If the vehicle pulls to one side when driving straight, this is an obvious sign that something is wrong. You may also notice abnormal wear on the tires. Unfortunately, a bad wheel alignment doesn't always rear its ugly head during a test drive.

In the process of performing a pre-purchase inspection, experienced mechanics go a step further to rule out any potential issues. They will look for clues that could reveal the vehicle was previously involved in a crash. You will then be instructed to either have the vehicle’s frame examined at an auto body shop or completely avoid the purchase.

Overlooking Noises
It’s not uncommon for a used vehicle to have a few more creaks and rattles. However, strange noises should never be overlooked. A loud whine from the rear of the vehicle could point to a failing fuel pump. This is a big repair job that requires a lot of labor, especially if the gas tank has to be dropped.

You should always listen out for any big clunks when driving the vehicle, which could indicate a worn suspension system. Meanwhile, a clicking or popping sound while making turns may stem from a bad CV joint.

Taking the vehicle to a qualified mechanic like Creech Import Repairs, can avoid a lot if not all of these issues and give you peace of mind on your vehicle purchase.

pre-purchase inspection