Happy woman with daughter checking car wheel in car showroom

The Importance of Pre-Purchase Car Inspections When Buying a Car Out of State


When you purchase a car out of state, it’s not always possible to give it a test drive. One way to mitigate the risk of buying a lemon is to organize a car inspection before buying. There are also several other reasons why an out-of-state pre-purchase inspection is worth doing.

What is a pre-purchase car inspection?

A pre-purchase inspection for an out-of-state car involves taking the vehicle you’re interested in purchasing to a trusted mechanic for an inspection. If you’re buying the vehicle online, you may have to ask the seller or someone else you trust to take the car there for you.

During an out-of-state pre-purchase inspection, the mechanic inspects the vehicle to determine whether it has any issues. 

Whether you use your preferred mechanic depends on where the car is located. If they are unavailable or can’t travel that far, you’ll need to do some research to find a nearby expert or locate a mobile inspector who can carry out the inspection.

A thorough third-party car inspection before purchase should include the following checks:

  • Complete computer diagnostics
  • Complete body check
  • Fuel system
  • Coolant systems
  • Mechanical report
  • Identity check
  • Emission repair facility
  • Air conditioning
  • Interior condition/controls
  • 5km road test
  • Electrical systems
  • Transmission
  • Brake system
  • Engine
  • Mufflers and exhaust
  • Steering and suspension
  • PPSR history check 

Who should perform a pre-purchase vehicle inspection?

A trained professional should undertake a thorough technical inspection. They will know what to look for. The following people would be suitable:

  • Car dealerships
  • Specialty automotive service providers
  • Mechanics and automotive technicians
  • Mobile vehicle inspection services

If you hire a company or individual to perform the pre-purchase inspection, you can expect to pay between $100 and $200. If the car being inspected is rare or unique, you may have to pay more to hire a specialist. 

Are you wondering why you should get a car inspected before buying it? Let’s look at some of the reasons. 

To ensure the seller is honest

The most important reason to arrange a car inspection before purchase is to confirm whether the seller of the vehicle is genuine. You should never take a car sales advert or the seller’s claim at face value. 

That’s not to say most people aren’t being truthful when it comes to selling their cars. Generally, sellers are upfront about their vehicle’s history, any damage, and other important features. 

However, there will be a few less-than-honest sellers who wouldn’t think twice about hiding any past damage or flaws. These dishonest sellers only want you to buy their car and take it off their hands, so they don’t have to deal with the problems. 

Dishonest sellers are even more likely to take advantage of you if you’re buying the car online from a different state.

If you get the car inspected by an independent third party, you can confirm whether the seller has been truthful. Knowing that a seller has been honest allows you to make an informed decision about buying the car.  

To assess the vehicle’s current condition

A pre-purchase inspection will help you understand the current condition of the car. An unbiased set of eyes looking over the car will give you an objective idea of how much wear and tear the car has experienced. The inspection will also give you a good idea of how long the car will last should you decide to purchase it. 

To pinpoint current and future problems

A close inspection of a vehicle before you buy it will highlight any current or future mechanical problems, some of which the seller might not be aware of. Hidden problems might include:

  • Faulty electrical wiring and components
  • Worn-out brake systems and components
  • Hidden body damage that’s been covered over
  • Old trunk seals that aren’t keeping water out

An experienced inspector will find such issues easily and bring them to your attention. Such issues might remain hidden without a pre-purchase vehicle inspection. 

To ensure the vehicle is suitable

An inspection will also help you figure out whether the car meets your needs. Buying a passenger vehicle is a straightforward process, if the vehicle is safe and in good condition.

If, on the other hand, you’re buying the vehicle for work, you may need to check if other features meet your needs, such as the vehicle’s towing or carrying weight.  

To help with your negotiations

With a pre-purchase inspection, you’re maximizing your bargaining power. A fair deal can only be negotiated once all the facts are on the table. The information from a pre-purchase inspection will also help you decide whether you should walk away from the deal completely. 

What if damage is found during the vehicle inspection?

The answer to this question depends on whether the damage was disclosed before the inspection. There’s no reason a vehicle with a damage history can’t be a good buy, and quite often, it’s an opportunity to get a more premium vehicle than you’d been considering. 

The PPI (pre-purchase inspection) is a way of ensuring previous damage has been properly repaired and the car is safe to drive. The extent of the damage can also be a good negotiating point when you’re discussing the price with the seller. 

However, if the seller told you there was no damage history and wasn’t willing to provide an inspection report to prove it, you might want to reconsider doing business with them. When someone has been dishonest about such a key element, it becomes questionable whether you can trust them to legitimately close the deal.

What happens following the vehicle inspection?

The next step depends on what you’ve learned from the vehicle inspection and the vehicle history report. Basically, it’s time for you to decide whether to buy the vehicle.

If you feel it’s the right vehicle for you, it’s time to go back to the seller and negotiate a price. If you’re buying the vehicle privately, you must check the rules and regulations around finalizing a private used car sale in the state where you live. If you’re buying the car from a dealer, they take care of the rest for you.    

How are you going to get your out-of-state purchase home?

If you’re buying your car online from another state, you’ll also need to think about how you’re going to get the car home. It might not be practical to go and collect it yourself, in which case, you can get an auto transport company like SGT Auto Transport to deliver it for you. 

The process is very simple and starts with requesting a quote.  

Get a free instant quote

There is an instant online quote calculator you can use, or you can call our shipping advisors at (864) 546-5038. Alternatively, speak with them directly using Live Chat.

Get a quote banner