Protecting your investment and ensuring your vehicle is in top-notch condition will help alleviate safety concerns and high repair costs. It is very important, especially when buying a used vehicle that you take it to a reliable and reputable mechanic to have it inspected prior to your purchase. If the seller will not allow you to take it to your own mechanic that is a red flag.
How to Find a Good Mechanic
The search for a good reliable mechanic that is both honest and trustworthy can be a difficult task for many people. Some suggestions for attaining this goal could be asking family members and friends. Another great way is utilizing social media like Facebook or Local Group Sites and posing the question for referrals. Online research can be very informative, especially when it comes to customer reviews. Checking with the Better Business Bureau to identify any complaints about a particular business is also a good idea. Ask how long the company has been in business and what the experience and qualifications of the mechanics are. Making a personal visit to a mechanic and creating a good relationship can also make this task a little easier.
Taking your vehicle to the dealership or a local mechanic is highly recommended. They are equipped with specialized tools and equipment to enable a full inspection of the vehicle. Dealerships also specialize in the vehicles that they sell. They have special lifts to check the underside of the vehicles and diagnostic machines to determine if there is a problem with the vehicle.
Inspection of the Braking System
The braking system of a vehicle is probably one of the most important inspections required for safety reasons. The entire brake system is checked during the inspection. This includes the brake fluid, the pedal, the brake lines, brake hoses, parking brake and the assemblies of the brakes.
Heating and Air Conditioning
During an inspection of your vehicle’s air conditioning system, several things will be inspected. The internal operating system and pressures must be checked. The hoses will be inspected for wear, cracks, damage, and leaks. The coolant level will be checked and the condition of the existing coolant that is in the vehicle. A visual inspection of the following will be included:
- Condenser fins
- Compressor and clutch
- Compressor drive belt
- Evaporator drain tube
- Any leaks
- Hoses and lines
Inspection of the vehicle heater includes:
- Checking the fluid levels
- Thermostat valve checking
- Checking the fan
- Checking the heater core
Steering and Suspension
The steering and suspension systems of a vehicle are connected.
The inspection of the vehicle’s steering system is very important as this gives the driver control over the vehicle. This is an extremely important function. The mechanic will inspect the steering wheel, the steering column and the pivoted joints that connect to the suspension system.
The suspension system consists of shock absorbers and springs for comfort and smoothness of the drive. The following items will be inspected pertaining to the vehicle’s suspension system:
- Upper ball joints and control arms
- Upper control arm bushings
- Lower ball joints, control arms and control arm bushings
- Control Arm Shafts
- Coil Springs
- Shock Absorbers
- Sway bar and bushings
- Sway bar link kits
- Spindle/Steering knuckles
Inspection of the exhaust system consists of checking a few things. The manifolds and gaskets for wear and leaks should be looked at. The catalytic converter should be inspected for dents, holes, leaks, corrosion and any clogging. The following items should also be part of the inspection:
- Heat Shield
- Mufflers and resonators
All Fluid Levels
All fluid levels should be inspected on the transmission, brakes, coolant and power steering.
Belts and Hoses
Every belt and hose on the vehicle should be inspected for wear, rust, damage, and leaks.
Transmission and Drivetrain
The drivetrain is made up of the driveshaft, transmission, axles, and wheels. The following items are part of the drivetrain inspection:
- CV joints
- Axle Shafts
Tires are an integral part of the inspection. The tires will be checked for patches, thread count, pressure and wear.
The inspection also includes engine lights, dashboard warning lights, interior lights and head, and tail lights.
Diagnostic testing will be done on the electrical system of the vehicle.
There are several aspects of the fuel system that should be part of the inspection. The fuel pump which is situated near or sometimes in the fuel tank is very important in moving the fuel from the tank. The fuel lines are the system for moving the fuel to the filter and then to the injectors. The lines, filter, and injectors should all be part of the inspection.
The vehicle’s battery should be tested to establish approximately how much life is left. The battery should also be checked for wear and corrosion. Inspection of the battery casing and cables should also be done.
An inspection of the frame of the vehicle can identify whether or not the vehicle may have been in an accident and is damaged.
Vehicles which are equipped with airbags must ensure they are in proper working order and replaced if missing.
A good mechanic will also access the condition of the vehicle interior. Ensuring there are sufficient and in good working order seatbelts are important. Also inspecting the stability of the seats in the vehicle is a good safety measure.
Along with the vehicles mechanical inspection, there should also be an inspection of the exterior. A visual inspection can identify rust and rotting areas on the vehicle. Depending on the amount and location of rust it can be a safety hazard. A good mechanic should be able to tell if the vehicle has been involved in an accident and/or painted.