How to Get a Pre-Purchase Inspection (PPI)

Buying a vehicle is one of the most important purchases you’ll make over the years. For many, the used car route provides a better value and less depreciation. New cars begin to depreciate as soon as they drive off the lot, making lightly used vehicles a smart choice for most buyers.

However, used vehicles come with a major downside; the previous owner(s). While some sellers come equipped with the service history of their vehicle, you never know exactly what’s going on under the hood without a professional opinion. Nobody wants to be stuck with a car that spends more time in the shop than on the road.

This is where a pre-purchase inspection (PPI) comes into play, offering a way to uncover any skeletons in the closet the vehicle is hiding before committing to a major financial decision. 

Hand holding car keys

What is a Pre-Purchase Inspection?

A PPI consists of taking your potential purchase to a local service facility for an in-depth overview of the vehicle’s health and condition before buying it. The technicians will follow an extensive list of components and systems to check, giving you a more accurate portrait of the vehicle’s future maintenance needs. 

What’s Checked During a PPI?

The exact list of inspection points varies from shop to shop, but most will inspect all of the most important systems and fluids in the vehicle, as well as the “wear items”, or components that are designed for regular replacements like brake rotors, pads, belts, shocks, etc. 

Some of the inspection points you should expect during a PPI include:

  • Any active fluid leaks
  • Brake wear
  • Oil condition and level
  • Cooling performance
  • A/C performance
  • Suspension and alignment
  • Tire wear
  • Warning lights and CEL codes
  • Body panels and frame visual inspection
Checking tire pressure

How to Get a PPI

Since pre-purchase inspections take place before purchasing the car, some may need clarification on how the process of getting a PPI happens. Here are the basics of setting up a PPI appointment for a vehicle you don’t yet own. 

Find The Right Shop

Getting a PPI gives you a chance to let professionals uncover expensive issues before committing to a purchase, however, it defeats the purpose if the professionals can’t properly inspect your vehicle. This is why it’s so important to choose a trustworthy shop for your PPI, so you’re not spending money on an inspection that may not give you the most accurate portrait of the car’s condition. 

If buying from a dealership, they may offer you a PPI service on the vehicle. This is a quick and easy way to get it done for most people, however, you still retain the right to take the vehicle anywhere you please for an inspection. 

If you’re looking at purchasing from a private party or prefer an independent inspection, most local repair shops and large national chains will offer PPI services. A trusted local mechanic will likely give you the best idea of the car’s condition, while lube and tire chains may be able to offer a lower price. 

What Does a PPI Cost

In the majority of cases, the buyer will be the one paying for the vehicle’s inspection. For a basic PPI service, you can expect to pay between $100-$200 for most vehicles. Less expensive inspections will be mostly visual, while more expensive ones may include more hands-on testing. Some luxury or performance vehicles may cost up to a few hundred more but often include further engine testing and inspection of their complex systems. 

The results of the PPI can also help offset some of its initial cost, as any uncovered issues or maintenance needs give you better leverage for negotiations. The conditions of a PPI appointment should be discussed and agreed upon by the buyer and seller before taking the vehicle in for inspection, such as time, place, and how to return the vehicle when finished.

Pre-Purchase Inspections in Naperville

If you’re on the hunt for a used vehicle in the Naperville, IL area, trust the experienced technicians at Becker Service Center for your in-depth pre-purchase inspection. Our team has the training and equipment to give your potential purchase a thorough health report before you pull the trigger on such a significant purchase.

Don’t let your new-to-you vehicle become a money pit on wheels, have it inspected at the trusted name in auto repair and maintenance in Naperville! Give us a call or schedule online today to speak with our friendly and knowledgeable service advisors.