What to Know Before Buying a “Certified Pre-owned Vehicle”


Deciding to purchase a certified pre-owned vehicle is a serious decision. With 'fresh-off-the-lot' cars, you don't have to do the research or expect anything less than perfect quality because they're brand new. But with pre-owned vehicles, making an informed decision is crucial to have a reliable mode of transportation. Obtaining a pre-purchase inspection is the most significant way to avoid any headaches. In Virginia, to sell a car, it only needs to have passed the state inspection; but that doesn't mean that there are no issues with the vehicle.


A pre-purchase inspection is a detailed assessment performed by a certified technician who can check all mechanical and cosmetic aspects. During this process, the safety and condition of the vehicle are established and used to inform any future buyer of what may be needed.


Things that are checked during a Pre-Purchase Inspection:


  1. Dashboard - All of the gauges should work properly and you should have no warning lights on the dash. If a warning light is lit up, then the mechanic inspecting your vehicle needs to determine the cause in order to give you an estimate on how much it costs to have the vehicle repaired.
  2. Tires & Inspection - In addition to the suspension, the tires are another important area that the mechanic should check. When looking at the tires, the mechanic assesses the condition they are in and if they exhibit uneven wear, which can signify an alignment problem.
  3. Fluids - Engine oil, brake fluid, coolant, power steering fluid, windshield washer fluid.
  4. Brakes - Brake pads, brake rotors.
  5. Engine - Cooling system, belts, air filter, ignition components, engine oil leaks.
  6. Transmission - The mechanic should check the transmission to assess smooth shifting with no delay when going into gear. If the vehicle has a manual transmission, it should shift without grinding. In addition to making sure the transmission operates smoothly and goes into gear as it should, the mechanic should look for leaks underneath the vehicle
  7. Exhaust - Exhaust manifold, catalytic converter, muffler, tailpipe.
  8. Body of Vehicle - Be on the lookout for dents and rust. If rust damage is extensive enough, you should consider looking at a different vehicle.
  9. Lights - Headlights, brake lights, turn signals, hazard lights.
  10. HVAC - Air conditioning, heater


In addition to a pre-purchase inspection, understanding the warranty the vehicle has is also crucial. We've all gotten those nagging calls and multiple letters about our vehicle's extended warranty. Before you decide to continue your warranty, you should know what it includes, or in this case, doesn't.


Extended warranties or maintenance plans are prolonged warranties offered once the initial one is expired. But it's important to read the fine print. Many extended warranties have different terms and conditions in comparison to the original and may not cover the same repairs. Some plans won't pay the shop's labor rate, or won't pay to replace factory quality parts.


For a pre-purchase inspection and evaluation from a trusted professional, come to The Shop!



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8300-A Midlothian Tnpk. Richmond, VA 23235 (804) 840-3055
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