Whether you’re buying a car, a house, or a new kitchen, it’s always good to have some peace of mind before you part with your hard-earned money.

Before buying a used vehicle, we always recommend booking a pre purchase vehicle inspection (also known as a ‘PPI’). Car repair bills are often unexpected and can leave you out of pocket, and a thorough inspection can uncover secrets of a vehicle’s past that you can’t spot yourself. This gives you some reassurance, knowing that you’re buying a reliable car before you complete the payment.

Before booking a vehicle inspection

Start with having a good look under the bonnet for any obvious signs of leakage, rust or damage. Warming up the engine can often make coolant leaks more apparent.

Check for obvious damage and wear, and make sure the main features of the car function correctly, such as the windows, lights and mirrors.

Make sure to check the tyres for cracks and perishing - any signs of which would indicate that the tyres are old and need to be replaced.To check the tread depth, insert a 20 cent coin into the tread of the tyre with the ‘20’ facing towards you. The base of the number 20 is approximately 2mm from the edge of the coin, which is just above the minimum WoF standard for a regular tyre (1.5mm).

Once you are satisfied with the car’s superficial condition, it’s time to hand the job over to the professionals for a more detailed assessment. Remember, even a car that looks fine on the surface could be hiding some serious issues underneath – this is why we highly recommend a vehicle inspection before you agree to buy any used car.

What can a Pre Purchase Inspection tell me that I might struggle to find myself?

  • Diagnostic checks such as a head gasket check can assess the engines health and may detect issues with its condition.
  • Signs of recent repair, corrosion, or evidence of recent underseal on the vehicles bodywork are all tell-tale signs of prior issues. It may be that over the years, the vehicle has endured more hits than The Beatles.
  • Fluid leaks can be costly to repair and must be checked in detail from an experienced technician. Leaks can come from the engine and drive train, through to the cooling system.
  • Batteries must be tested to ensure that they’re healthy. Faulty electronic systems, including diagnostic warning lights, can also spell disaster if they remain illuminated on the dashboard.
  • A road test may uncover faults relating to the vehicle’s transmission, driveline and braking systems. These can be uncovered by excessive noise or vibrations, or unusual operation. An experienced technician can advise on what could be causing the issue.

We always recommend getting a vehicle inspection carried out by a trained professional. The report will address many of the concerns surrounding a vehicle’s condition and quality. Investing in a robust check now could help save you from issues in the future, and perhaps even help you to get a better deal on the vehicle you want!

AA Pre Purchase Inspections

The AA offers Pre Purchase Inspections at selected AA Auto Centre sites nationwide, and if you live in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Hamilton, Hastings, Napier or Havelock North, then we have mobile inspections who can come to you.

PPI pricing

  • AA Members - $184 (save $25)
  • Non-Members - $209

Click here for more information on AA Pre-Purchase Inspections.

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