Inspections & buying privately - denty2005
I'm soon to be upgrading my car, and would prefer to try to get a bargain by buying privately. To protect my investment, I would like to have the car inspected before agreeing to buy.

Are there any drawbacks to doing this (obviously apart from the cost) - for example, by the time you have booked the inspection with both the seller & inspector, the car may well have been sold already? How quickly can they do the inspections?

Could you perhaps place a deposit on a vehicle pending an inspection - and if any problems are eventually found, agree with the seller on a lower price?

What are your experiences of this process?


Inspections & buying privately - M.M
I find these are a real problem. You are talking about the AA type inspection at £100 or so I guess?

The thing is they will give an idea of the condition but there are many faults that could appear in your first 20 miles that they would never see.... a car that overheats after a while or suffers intermittant stalling/flat spots that have driven the previous owner to despair and hence to sell.

Nothing less than an all wheels off/ramp inspection plus a good long drive will find every issue... and then there will still be something.

And as you say there is the timing issue. You could spend a lot of £100 fees only to find the car had been sold elsewhere or that its condition was too bad to buy. Also the inspector tends to chat to the owner and if the owner is aware you have spent the fee... and it has passed pretty well then all your power to bargain has gone.

In many ways to ask to meet the seller at a local MOT station and have it tested while you watch (you pay) is a pretty good £40 worth of checks.

My personal way when buying private is to assess the seller and see that the documents are 110%... then whatever the price point of the car allow £400 for immediate work. If there is anything about the seller or the history that doesn't add up walk away... there is always another.

If you have a reglar local mechanic who will give something a look because he knows he'll get the servicing in the future he'll often be able to suss a car in 5mins without a 55 point check list.


Inspections & buying privately - Mutton Geoff
I find the character of the seller a much more valid guide. There's good people and bad people. Good cars and bad cars. In my experience bad people don't sell good cars and good people can sell both. So, if you follow my drift, suss out the seller first. If he's a "good guy" then you've got a 50% chance of the car being OK. Now check the paperwork, history, every single thing.

In over 30 years of buying and selling cars, I have never lost a service book, MOT certificate or repair bill, so when I meet sellers who claim something vital has been "lost", I walk away. My worst purchases (in my younger, inexperienced days) have all been from people that I remember being decidedly dodgy. If you're a reasonable judge of character, you stand a better chance of finding a good deal.

Private sellers often need to raise cash quickly and their bottom line is the sale direct to a dealer, so you can often get close to "bottom book" with a private seller. And they are more likely to leave the tax disc and a half tank of fuel as well.

Inspections & buying privately - MW
I could not agree more.
When buying a car 30-40% is the seller, and 100% if he looks iffy. Normal stright people never loose MOTs etc as they are such a great selling point.
My only bad experience was when 'car fever' took over. I broke all the rules
The log book was due to come from Swansea, Only 1 MOT etc etc.
I can't belive how green I was, but I really really really wanted that car; and logic flew out the window.
Older and wiser I insist that the car, person, house, and log book are all the same. That,s what normal people do. Anything else is abnormal. I agree an MOT is a pretty good £40 worth. Add half and hours inspection of engine and gearbox by a good mechanic, and its probably as good as you get.
Inspections & buying privately - stokie
My one experience of an inspection was positive.
The AA man found a list of smallish items e.g. an earth strap not connected to the body, which I used to get the price down from £2250 to £1950 (this was in 1987).
OK in negotiaiting I laid on a bit thick how much the repairs would cost, and the seller would probably have come down a bit anyway, but I felt the inspection had got an extra reduction and peace of mind that the car was essentially good.

Prior to the inspection I'd not found any fault that I could use to haggle on price.

I trusted the seller, (an engineering student from a family like my own) and I agree with another poster that's very important.

Also I was the only buyer who had responded to his advert so he wasn't likely to sell to someone else. I think I agreed something like he'd not show the car to anyone else until the inspection had been done.

Could be worth seeking out adverts in local papers which may get less response that Auto Trader etc, then you'll have less competition.


Inspections & buying privately - Waino
If you use a local, independent, reliable repair guy, it's worth having a word with him - he might just know someone who's selling a car that he has known and serviced.
Inspections & buying privately - denty2005
Thanks - all very helpfull.

I may take the MOT route, as my technical knowledge is poor. I would feel much more confident buying after someone has given the car a once-over, even if it is only basic.

I think this, coupled with a FSH (a must for me) would privide good assurance that a vehicle is mechanically sound.
Inspections & buying privately - bell boy
and not one post mentioning a hpi,very interesting indeed
2 cars in the drive nothing in the fridge and eyeballs of debt what do people do? they sell a car of course.

Ask Honest John

Value my car