In our Buyer’s Guides we’re always stressing the importance of pre purchase vehicle inspections as a safe guard. However, after weighing up the cost versus the risk, many consumers decide to forgo having a vehicle inspected. So we thought we’d share some of our Vehicle Inspectors’ stories to highlight why they’re worthwhile, even if you or a mate know a thing or two about cars.
To the untrained naked eye a vehicle can appear as smooth as a baby’s bottom, but dig a little deeper and you may find the vehicle has had more hits than Justin Bieber. It’s all too easy for the average buyer to be deceived by a vehicle’s condition simply based on its exterior appearance. Keep in mind vehicles are sometimes groomed in a manner to be as presentable as possible using a variety of car care products.
To really assess a vehicle’s structure, careful attention should be applied to: seams, welds, paintwork (colour variation) and even points where chassis straightening equipment might have been used. Vehicle Inspectors can often determine if the vehicle has been involved in a collision from the assessment of these points – and sometimes the exact type of accident that occurred.
Our Vehicle Inspectors occasionally notice a thing or two missing from a vehicle. More often we’re talking a missing jack or spare tyre, but once in a blue moon they see something that has us lost for words.
On one inspection of a four wheel drive vehicle the Inspector noticed the whole rear drive shaft had been removed! In this case the vehicle still ran perfectly, but was limited to two wheel drive. In another unrelated inspection, the Inspector found a vehicle was missing the front bumper bar (the steel piece behind the plastic) - a crucial part of the frontal impact zone.
You can’t see it but it will haunt you long after a purchase. The inside of vehicles can be stained with food and drink which can cause lingering, unpleasant smells. Then there are vehicle owners who smoke inside their car - it doesn’t take long for the smell of tobacco to hit you.
Then you have the more important smells… the ones coming from the engine.
- The sweet smell of coolant leaks possibly indicating overheating.
- The burnt toast smell from an electrical short or melting insulation.
- The smell of burning oil dripping on the engine block or exhaust manifold.
You may be surprised how often our Inspectors find engines with extensive oil leaks, broken mounts or a misfiring engine cylinder which can lead to an expensive repair bill down the track. Or the engine warning light that has always been on which ends up being a very sick engine with a stretched timing chain.
By far the most important check of any inspection is safety, and we can’t stress that enough. It may seem unbelievable, but we have found genuine safety features in vehicles purposely disabled. A prime example is someone who has a warning light on the dash - of course this isn’t going to help sell the vehicle, so the owner may remove the bulb to disguise a fault.
It seems ludicrous for someone to disable a safety feature but it does happen, and in many cases the cost of reinstating these features is significant, but ultimately necessary for a WoF.