Pre-purchase used car inspections are vital
Shopping for a new-to-you used car? Before you sign on the dotted line, be sure to have an expert pre-purchase used car inspection done to ensure you aren’t buying a flood-damaged vehicle. You’ve driven it, and no doubt looked it over for obvious signs of damage or wear, but whipping out a flashlight to peek under seats and pulling off the spare tire cover might be tough to do while on the used car lot.
It’s important to know that flooded used cars can be cleaned up well enough to erase the conspicuous signs of damage. Having a professional 50-point inspection from Palmer’s Automotive Repair in Twin Falls, ID, can help make certain your investment is sound. Even used cars that haven’t been through a flood may have other hidden problems. A pre-purchase used car inspection checks for these sneaky problems so you can buy with confidence that your purchase won’t break the bank after you drive it off the lot.
DIY Inspection before taking the car to a shop
Being cautious when used car shopping isn’t just about watching out for vehicles from a flood zones. All used car lots are NOT created equal. The sales person may claim the vehicle you’re looking at comes with a warranty, but beware. In reality, you may be buying a car “as is”. The Idaho Legal Aid website has a PDF document with valuable information and tips about buying used cars in Idaho.
A reputable used car lot will generally allow serious shoppers to have a reasonable interval of unsupervised time with a vehicle. Drive the vehicle off the lot and find a place to park where you can do your own thorough visual inspection. Check the exterior for evidence of paint alterations, chips, or cracks in the windshield or door glass.
Check inside for seat, dash, and door panel damage or upholstery tears. Turn on all nobs, handles, or switches to make sure they function. If it’s cold weather, make sure the heater and defroster work. If it’s warm weather, make sure the air-conditioning gets cold. Test each accessory for proper operation, from wipers to electric seats and windows, from keyless entry to cruise control, radio and CD player.
Test drive in the city and on the highway, listening for vibrations, noises or rattles at different speeds on different road surfaces. If you like the ride and you didn’t notice any unusual odors like burnt oil, gasoline, hot rubber, or mildew, you may be ready for the next step. Ask the car lot if you can schedule a pre-purchase used car inspection from your shop.
Be alert for cars or trucks with flood damage
Detail shops are skilled at cleaning vehicles to cosmetically remove or cover signs of damage and wear. Problems like water in electrical wiring connectors, transmissions, differentials, or heating and air conditions boxes are much more difficult to detect. During a pre-purchase used car inspection, the technician may need to:
- Remove oil fill caps to check for signs of moisture
- Use mirrors and lights to look into heater boxes
- Loosen a panel under the dash to look for signs of water staining
- Remove or loosen a trim panel to inspect underneath the carpet
AAA has warned buyers about purchasing used vehicles from areas in Texas flooded by hurricane Harvey. Many of these vehicles are shipped to other states for cleanup and resale. Idaho requires refurbished flood-damaged vehicles to have a salvage title, which indicates the car has been seriously damaged. No matter how great the price or how good it looks, buying a flood-salvaged vehicle is never a good idea. There will likely always be problems with electrical connections, electronic modules, or failure of major component like transmissions, differentials, and transfer cases.
CarFax is one of the best resources to use when researching flood-salvaged vehicles. Their website shows maps of flood zones and the number of vehicles damaged. Starting a free account on the CarFax page allows you to submit vehicle identification numbers, or VIN, to see if it is reported as flood-salvaged.
Expert Pre-Owned Car Inspections in Twin Falls
At Palmer’s Automotive Repair, we perform a 50 point used car inspection that includes a complete visual inspection in areas of the undercarriage that detail shops can’t access. We check components like transmissions and differentials for signs of water immersion and inspect fluids for water contamination.
Whether you’re shopping for a Chevrolet or Toyota truck, a Honda car or SUV, a Subaru or other four-wheel drive truck, let our professional mechanics in Twin Falls do a pre-purchase used car inspection before you buy. The $85 inspection fee is nothing compared to the cost of replacing a transmission, differential or an under dash air-conditioning box damaged by floodwater.
Owner and master technician, Neil Palmer, encourages prospective used car buyers to start with a DIY inspection. If the used car passes your inspection, it’s time to call and schedule a pre-purchase inspection with our ASE-Certified auto-repair professionals at Palmer’s.
If you need repair or service after your purchase, we use quality NAPA auto parts backed with the NAPA national warranty that protects you when traveling out of the Magic Valley or Twin Falls County.
For trusted pre-purchase used car inspections in Twin Falls, visit Palmer’s Automotive Repair. Call us today or use our convenient appointment request form to get that used car inspected before you buy.