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Inspect That Used Car Before Buying! Posts: 10,046
edited January 2016 in General
Inspect That Used Car Before Buying!

Getting an inspection report from a mechanic or mobile service is essential before you buy a used car.

Read the full story here


  • Sadly, I spent $420 with AIM to inspect a used Corvette Z06. This is their highest level of inspection (AIM 'certified') which supposedly comes with a 6 month guarantee. The inspection report came back with flying colors and their highest grade (A). However, from the day I bought the car, it's been creating this loud grinding/shuddering sound from the rear axle. It happens every single time I back out of my driveway. I cannot believe AIM missed that. This sounds like a rear differential issue that can be quite expensive on this $50+ car. I called their customer service to find out how they could miss such an obvious error and this is what I was told:
    1. AIM does not guarantee a comprehensive test and that I should not rely solely on their test to make a purchasing decision
    2. Driving a car in reverse while turning the steering (that is, not straight) is not part of their 150-point inspection so they do not think that it is the inspectors mistake (!?)
    3. The extra $280 that I paid for the 6months/6000miles guarantee is useless since that warranty only covers engine (??)
    4. I asked to speak with a supervisor and I was told this was already discussed with AIM's VP's and this was their recommendation - no refund, no warranty service and absolutely no assistance for me to get this issue resolved!

    I have filed a complaint with BBB but I thought consumers need to be wary when using an inspection company. Please read the fine print and don't rely 100% on the report. Also don't bother paying extra for more assurance, just get the basic report if at all. And ALWAYS test drive the car (even if it's a 1000 miles away) before purchasing it - do NOT rely on the inspection report alone.
  • UPDATE TO MY LAST COMMENT: After I complained to the BBB about AIM's misleading product and lack of customer service, I got a call back from a "real customer service executive with authority" regarding my BBB complaint. This person was much nicer to me and willing to hear my complaint, apologized for the other persons behavior and asked what he could do to make the BBB complaint go away. A partial refund of the inspection amount was made to cover the repair cost for the differential issue they missed in the report. I'm happy with that. However this person also reiterated the following:

    - AIM's inspectors are not qualified mechanics or technicians
    - Most of their work is in identifying cosmetic issues, taking pictures and identifying any issues during test drive that you yourself might notice with your own untrained eyes.
    - They are 'only YOUR eyes and ears'. So the report should not be used as a third party validation of the car and should not be your sole purchase decision
    - The 'certified' test and resulting guarantee certificate only covers engine and transmission.

    Here's my advice:
    - Get the basic inspection + Autocheck (similar to CarFax) report
    - Don't bother with the 'Titan Certified' tests if the car you're purchasing is still under power train warranty
    - Always test drive the car yourself if you still like it after seeing the inspection report and before paying the seller
    - Consider getting a certified technician/mechanic to look at the car if it's no longer under any type of warranty and is one of those cars that can have expensive repairs
    - This is especially important if you're buying a car out of state based on an inspection report alone, followed by a delivery to your home without every seeing or driving the car. I guess it's ok if the car is still under bumper-to-bumper warranty. In that case, only the cosmetic issues and wear-and-tear matter (which btw is covered extensively in the AIM report)

    I hope this helps others make the right choice when looking for a professional inspection service. Based on my experience, I think I would still recommend the AIM base service and will probably use it again myself if the other major inspection service (SGS) is no better in terms of coverage.
  • I recently hired a Inspection company after searching for some time. I highly recommend them. I read this article before I started looking for my new car. They probably had the best customer service I have ever dealt with in my life. Confirmed everything looked right and saved me from buying a POS. In case others are looking, the company was
  • aajaxaajax Posts: 1
    Did Andy have anything to say about the stuff your mechanic caught that Andy didn't?
  • All auto technicians are not equal and most technicians are not qualified to perform a comprehensive pre-purchase inspection (PPI)

    Used vehicles are so complex that most Automotive Technicians are ASE Certified in just a few of the 8 general automotive areas. A complete PPI needs all 8 areas inspected. Only an ASE Master Technician is certified on all 8 mechanical and electrical automotive areas. In addition, a PPI needs a Body & Frame Specialist to detect any previous accident and/or frame damage and the quality of any repairs.

    A professional pre-purchase inspection by an ASE Master Technician and Frame Specialist is the most important part of the used car buying process. You cannot negotiate your best price until you determine the TRUE condition of the vehicle.

    Make sure the technician performing the PPI is ASE Master Certified and a Frame Specialists.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    edited August 2015
    I've read enough complaints in the Forums here to think it's a good idea to get an independent inspection of a CPO used car too. At least if you skip it, you have a warranty to fall back on,but it would be better to avoid that hassle as well.

    Since dealers generally don't have to report repairs made to fix damaged brand new cars, I'm beginning to wonder if an independent inspection isn't a bad idea there either.
  • INSPECT that warranty that Edmunds pushes!! I got screwed out of a vehicle because of the Edmunds, and the dealership.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,076
    marieldso said:

    INSPECT that warranty that Edmunds pushes!! I got screwed out of a vehicle because of the Edmunds, and the dealership.

    Hi marieldso - we're so sorry to hear you had a bad experience, and we'd like to find out more about what went wrong. Please visit our Live Advice page:

    We list a number of ways that you can contact us, and hope you'll choose whatever method is most convenient.


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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    Some shops have a tendency to nitpick cars that they do pre purchase inspections on and I've seen customers get scared away over the most minor things that the shop thinks are in need of replacement.

    They find oil leaks that aren't there. They recommend brake replacement when there is 50% pad remaining.

    I guess they have to justify the prices they charge or something?
  • jayshreejayshree Posts: 1
    You should always keep a handy checklists before buying any used car, so that you know what you need to check apart from car valuation process.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,478
    Also important is that the inspection is done by a disinterested party--not the dealer selling the car. The best inspections are done by independent repair shops that specialize in the type of car you are buying.

    Inspections should include a test drive, too. There's plenty of problems that don't show up on a lift but manifest themselves clearly on the test drive, like bad noises, bad behavior, etc.

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  • Keith_EichholzKeith_Eichholz Grand Rapids, Mich.Posts: 1
    Mine was inspected for $148.53 by Community Automotive of Grand Rapids before I made my purchase.
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