When shopping for a used vehicle, you can complete a lot of the homework and due diligence via your laptop.
But at some point someone will need to get their hands dirty. You, or someone you trust, will have to go “mano-a-mano” with the vehicle in question, and poke and prod every inch of it — especially those oily bits where the sun don’t shine.
You can do this inspection yourself, or have a more technically savvy friend do it for you, or enlist the services of a professional. The professional route is by far the most preferable option, because even if you’re technically savvy, you might not have all the great diagnostic tools and equipment to do the job properly.
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If you already have a trusted mechanic, he or she would be the ideal person to check out a potential vehicle for you. But it’s often awkward, or impossible, to get the seller to bring the vehicle to your preferred mechanic’s shop, and the process has the potential to eat up a lot of time.
There is another professional option out there, which many Canadians are unaware of it, even though it’s quite popular in other countries — a mobile used-car inspection service.
“Canada is practically the only country that doesn’t have (many) companies providing these services,” says Efi Bershadsky, co-founder of SmartAutoCheck.com. The company is in the process of building its Canadian wide network of used vehicle inspection services. Currently they can service customers in Southern Ontario, Calgary and Edmonton.
Bershadsky’s business partner got the inspiration to start the company, soon after he immigrated to Canada from Israel. His first used vehicle purchase in Canada turned out to be a horrible one. He then noticed that mobile inspection services weren’t as common here, as they were back in Israel.
You can order a SmartAutoCheck inspection over the Internet ($129 and up, depending on distance). A licensed inspector or licensed mechanic will then contact the seller and arrange a time to have the vehicle inspected at the seller’s location. SmartAutoCheck will then go and inspect that car, and complete a report within 24 hours.
They check engine condition by compression test, by combustion leak test, and by using an OBD2 (On Board Diagnostic) device to check for fault codes stored on the engine’s computer.
They check body condition by looking for rust, and evidence of collision repair (extra paint, welding, etc.). Extra paint is detected by a paint gauge tool, which is actually a micrometer, which measures paint thickness.
They check for leaks by jacking the car up, and inspecting the appropriate bits.
I don’t know why you wouldn’t get any vehicle checked over professionally before you buy it. If the car is clear, you get piece of mind. If it’s not, you just escaped a potential nightmare. If the inspection uncovers a few issues, you have bargaining power and can easily negotiate a lower selling price, to recoup the cost of the inspection, and maybe more.