A used car is typically a good option for getting an affordable vehicle, but you need to take extra time to make sure the car is reliable. To help you get the most out of your money, it's important to get a pre-purchase inspection (PPI). Here's what you can expect when you're looking for a used car.

What's A Pre-Purchase Inspection?

A pre-purchase inspection can tell you things that you wouldn't normally be able to find out just by driving a car. Even if the vehicle runs and has been patched up for sale, it doesn't mean there aren't mechanical issues under the hood. A trained technician should be able to provide the peace of mind you need to move forward with confidence.

During the inspection, a certified mechanic will check the vehicle and provide you with an assessment of whether the car is mechanically sound. If they find anything that needs fixing you may be able to estimate how much work your used car will need if you decide to go ahead with the purchase.

Pre-Purchase Inspections Are Key When Buying a Used CarIn your walk-around, you should pay close attention to all the aspects of the car that you can see and you should be hyperaware on your test drive. However, you can only see so much from this perspective as a buyer if you have an untrained eye. This is why having a certified mechanic perform a pre-purchase inspection can really help.

Many people don't realize that most dealerships are more than happy to allow you to take a vehicle for a professional PPI with an independent mechanic. In fact, they often send a dealer rep with you to get this done.

Any dealership that refuses to let you take a car for an independent pre-purchase inspection should be handled with caution. In fact, when it comes to used vehicles, this should be considered a deal-breaker.

How Much Do Pre-Purchase Inspections Cost?

PPIs are done at service centers, or on location for a fee. The cost can vary depending on where you go, and the thoroughness of the inspection. Typically, the average runs between $100 and $200 for a professional PPI.

Your costs may increase a bit due to convenience as well. Rather than taking the car to a service center, you can often find mobile inspection services that come to you. This can be a good option if you're considering a used car through a private sale.

Are Pre-Purchase Inspections Worth It?

Due to the rising cost of new vehicles, many people, especially those with poor credit, find themselves turning to the used car market for their next purchase. This is a good option, but it can also pose a problem if you're not prepared. It's vital to get a pre-purchase inspection when you're buying a used car.

Putting in a few hundred dollars upfront can save you hundreds or thousands down the road if the vehicle ends up needing repairs. However, if you're buying a car from a franchised dealership vehicles are typically thoroughly inspected by a manufacturer-certified mechanic that specializes in the brand of car you're buying. In this case, it's up to you if you want to go the extra mile for the measure of safety and peace of mind.