Why you should: Even if the car looks super-clean and the seller promises it was driven gently, you should get an expert opinion on its roadworthiness.
What you should do: Given today’s incredibly hot used-car market, it can be a challenge to have a vehicle inspected by a reliable mechanic. With so many people looking for cars, sellers don’t need to accommodate requests like this. Still, it’s worth asking whether you can do so.
“If you can, have a mechanic experienced in auto bodywork and accident repair give the vehicle a detailed inspection,” Ibbotson says. The results of this inspection give you ammunition to negotiate a final price. Either you can get a lower price because you’re going to fix the problems or you could offer to pay their price if they fix the problems. Of course, you could ask that the problems be fixed and continue to haggle over the price.
If the seller won’t let you take the car for an inspection, you’ll have to decide whether you’re okay with making an offer. If the owner lacks sufficient maintenance history documentation, you may want to skip the offer and find another car.