It’s almost certain that some point in your life you have purchased a used car, it might have even been your very first car when you were 16 that you were more than excited to get into. That same excitement happens even as an adult and often clouds our judgement.  Yes, I did say our because I have been guilty of it too.

A Pre-Purchase Used Car Inspection provides you with a layer of security, an opportunity so to speak to back out of a bad purchase before you sign the dotted line.

A pre-purchase used car inspection is provided by mobile used car inspectors that go to the place of the car, they likely have been in the automobile repair industry or in the insurance industry writing estimates and appraisals.

Pre-Purchase Vehicle Inspections by TDT
A Pre-Purchase Used Car Inspection is a full physical examination of a car before you finalize your sale. It should include a full report of the body, interior, tires, electronics, engine, transmission, driveline, suspension, steering and brakes.

A pre-purchase used car inspection takes a look at the car the moment before you are about to purchase it.  Many times the consumer sees the shell of the car, that is the body and the upholstery, and often makes a purchase decision based on the looks and condition of the paint and seat upholstery. What often lacks is an inspection of the mechanical condition of the car.  This is the area which often gives us that sick feeling in our stomach as we are signing the purchase paperwork. This is where a pre-purchase used car inspector really comes into play. Pre-Purchase used car inspectors are highly trained in spotting previous repair, frame damage, water damage and much more including mechanical issues during a test drive. Many pre-purchase used car inspectors are ASE certified or have been ASE certified in the past and no longer repair cars but instead put their skills and training to use helping people purchase safer automobiles.


A typical pre-purchase used car inspection should outline the basic vehicle information such as the VIN, year, make, model and trim package. It should also list the options the vehicle is equipped with such as power locks, navigation and any other special features.  The pre-purchase used car inspection should go through the body of the car in detail outlining each body panel such as the fenders and doors and noting if any of them had been repainted, the quality of that work and also if there are cosmetic issues on those panels.  The interior of the car will also be documented and should include the seat condition, dash condition, trim and ensuring all the features and options are operating as they should be. Next you should also receive a report of the tire condition, what is the size, the manufacture, tread depth and if there are any issues such as cracks or cuts in the tires.  Now everything I have mentioned just previously is the basic, barebones pre-purchase used car inspection, these are often sold for about $100-$125 which may seem like it fits your budget very well considering that if you decide to not purchase the car at least you aren’t out a ton of money on this particular car.

There are many pre-purchase used car inspection companies out there that tout their used car inspections which are basically the barebones inspection that take about 20 minutes to perform, I know this because I used to work for AutoVIN who sold them.  Some of these national used car inspection companies even pay for a bunch of advertising or partner with companies like eBay Motor®s and CarFax®. This is a dangerous situation for these companies since it becomes a conflict of interest eventually when sales start to drop due to cars being inspected and turned down by buyers because of the issues found on the cars.

Enough of the soapbox about them… Let’s talk about what you need to know in order to purchase a safe and reliable used car.  So if you take all the cosmetic inspection provided in that bare-bones inspection I spoke about previously and add a true mechanical inspection to it that examines the engine, the transmission, the driveline, the CV shafts, the suspension, steering and the most important system which is the brakes, you get a true full inspection used car inspection.

So how can you tell what type of pre-purchase used car inspection you will get from a used car inspection company?  Ask them for a copy of a recent report or a link to one.  They should be able to provide you with one with their customer’s information omitted.  Look for comments in the report about the mechanical ability of the used car.  It is not very often that a car will get a full passing grade. Some pre-purchase used car inspection companies use a letter grade system like in grade school, some use a point system which can be very confusing and the good pre-purchase used car inspectors use the industry standard which is Clean, Good, Fair, Poor.  Using 4 levels of category remove the ability to take the “average” condition. Another thing you should look for when reviewing a pre-purchase used car inspection report is the quality of photos their inspector takes and the areas of photos taken. Some pre-purchase used car inspection companies also provide video of the inspection which often show the body of the car, the interior, the features and options of the car operating and some even provide a video of the engine going through the RPM ranges which show you how it is running.

Now here at Test Drive Technologies it no secret that TDT provides pre-purchase used car inspections and the quality of which we do that.  If you are looking for a thorough inspection of a used car from someone you can trust, then just fill out the form on the screen and we will be happy to help you out in any way we can.

Oh, by the way, we provide our inspection services mainly in St Louis, Southeastern Missouri, Springfield, Mo, Central Illinois and Southern Illinois.  We also inspect exotic cars, classic cars, RV’s, Semi trucks and even boats if you happen to be in the market for one of those as well.