When a car inspector calls… good reasons why you shouldn’t buy that used car

A car inspector calls

A thorough inspection of a used car can provide some illuminating evidence as to how it’s been treated throughout its lifetime

I used to be in the car-inspection business; providing reports for people’s prospective used car purchases.

I’m not really in it anymore, mainly because there’s no real money to be made. The truth is that some people don’t really care enough about the used cars they are buying, and if they do then they are less than happy about what any inspection may reveal. They often don’t want to be put off a decision that they have sometimes already made.

I’m banging on about this because I’ve been chucking loads of paperwork away and came across these little gems, which I wrote a decade ago, about cars my inspectors had, well, inspected.

1. A family car should be a safe one, but a nine-year-old people carrier with 90,000 miles, well, this may need an overhaul to make a six-figure mileage. Not surprisingly, the interior of the Ford Galaxy is dirty and has cigarette burns. More seriously, though, the brake pipes are corroded, the driveshaft gaiters are split and there are severe oil leaks. The exterior is equally sorry for itself with damaged trim, rust and tatty wheel trims. Very family unfriendly.

2. A Porsche 911 without a service book is not a good start. That may have explained the engine oil leaks, rough idle and loose exhaust. Silicone pock-marks on the paintwork and broken rear bumper bracket are pointers to serial neglect. The nail in the tyre sums this 911 up, really.

3. A year-old Lotus Elise, what on Earth could be scary about that? Certainly not the modest 6000 mileage. Trouble is, this Elise has lived its life on fast forward. Both doors have been repaired, soft-top replaced, and there are marks on seats, carpets and door trim. However, you could get a refreshing free shower as the windscreen washers overshoot the windscreen. An elastic band on the brake pedal keeping the stop lights off confirms suspicions that this Elise has only truly been at home on the track.

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