9 November 2012

Buying a car? Don't forget the pre-purchase inspection

We’ve undertaken our fair share of road trips for Hagerty Classic Cars magazine — from traversing historic Route 66 to a family amusement park adventure in a classic wagon — and we’ve learned a lot along the way.
The lesson that resonated the most, however, was the importance of a professional pre-purchase inspection. See Exhibit A: Our calamity-filled Route 66 trip in which the shop tasked with the all-important inspection lets us down spectacularly.
Luckily, for our Hagerty Family Vacation we enlisted the assistance of Road Ready Certified from ClassicCars.com. Road Ready Certified sends a qualified inspector to the seller's business or residence to actually lay a set of eyeballs on your prospective purchase.
Road Ready Certified inspects not just the cosmetics but some of the all-important mechanical systems like brakes, power steering, tires, etc. It doesn't get as detailed or invasive as a compression test, but any smoke, funny noises, dirty oil, etc., are noted so that the prospective purchaser can take further action as warranted. The cost is generally under $300.
The result for us was good. Our classic American road trip in a '71 Olds Vista Cruiser that had been inspected by Road Ready Certified went off without a hitch and we felt like we already knew the car when it arrived based on the detailed report from Road Ready Certified.

13 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Henry Kansas February 27, 2013 at 19:27
    I will never buy another car without using an Escrow service. They hold my purchase money in escrow and only release it once I verify the car is in the condition promised. Sellers get real honest when they can't pull a fast one on you. For a couple hundred buck an escrow service keeps honest people honest. I use an outfit called Paysafe escrow.
  • 2
    Craig Auckland April 20, 2013 at 19:41
    @Robert - was it Volo or Road Ready who told you the car was good to go?
  • 3
    Geoff Florida June 20, 2013 at 09:36
    I've used AutomobileInspections.com for the same reason (pre-purchase) and found them to be excellent also.
  • 4
    1957 Car Guy Pheonix, AZ July 2, 2013 at 17:37
    Ordered and inspection from Road Ready Certified on classic Chevy located in Minnesota. Many pictures, but the rest of the inspection was to my opinion questionable. Many issues that were not noted, such as excessive tire sidewall checking that rendered the car not safe to operate on the road. High water temps checked off as ok. Chrome that had gaps where they mated. The kicker was the ending comment, Avery nice, complete, no excuses show car. Not as described in the report. Would not use them again on my next purchase.
  • 5
    damon tolstoy alabama July 6, 2013 at 15:24
    im looking at buying a gto 64 in alabama..need an extensive inspection..
  • 6
    Geoff Florida July 13, 2013 at 08:38
    Damon, the car I had AutomobileInspections.com inspect was a '66 goat and they got me ALL the numbers form the motor, body tag, VIN and even gearbox as part of their basic classic car inspection. They also helped me get it paid for safely and transported to Florida. I was impressed.
  • 7
    Dennis Dahl Apache Junction, az August 4, 2013 at 17:18
    I ordered an inspection from Road Ready certified in Oct. of 2012. The 57 Chevy was located in Minnesota and after the inspection I had it shipped to AZ. The only positive I can say about Road Ready was a nice packet of useless pictures. The inspector missed numerous flaws/safety issues. The tire sidewalls were so checked I had to have new tires installed. The engine ran extremely hot and I had to replace the radiator. The steering wheel spokes were broken. The rear window cranks fell off and it was evident that the inspector never tried them. There was a hole in the headliner, which I had to replace. The carb leaked fuel, and the choke was not hooked up. The front end (ball joints, bushing etc. were worn and the front end was out of alignment (which should have been evident during a test drive. These are not all the items missed but the clincher was the inspectors closing statement "A very nice, complete, no excuses show car". Never again will I use this service nor will I deal with any business that refers them.
  • 8
    curt chicago August 8, 2013 at 15:44
    I used road ready certified to inspect a 1963 cadillac convertible in New Jersey. The inspection report came back that the car was in great condition and had no problems. I bought the car. When it was delivered three days after the inspection, the speedometer did not work, the rear lights did not work, the power windows did not close, there was a loud noise coming from under the car, the car was overheating and the list goes on and on. The car was in terrible condition and I never would have bought it without the beautiful report prepared by someone who obviously never drove the car. They refunded my money for the inspection, but I am stuck with a bad car. This company is terrible. Don't rely on their reports.
  • 9
    Sean Wilson Missouri September 22, 2013 at 21:41
    66 Cadillac needs inspection in Wisconsin
  • 10
    Mike Anderson Washington November 12, 2013 at 22:17
    STAY AWAY from Road Ready Certified. They just cost me $48,000.00. I used RRC to pre inspect a 70 Chevelle SS. Their inspection report said there was only one thing wrong with the car, a small dent in the rear bumper. They forgot to put in their report the other 23 issues such as rust, cigarette burns on the seat, tears in the seat, excessive play in the steering, clock inop, radio all messed up, stress fracture on both sides of the trunk, paint chips/scratches, etc.. I would not have bought this car if their inspector had done her job. $48,000.00 plus another $10,000.00 to repair everything. STAY AWAY!!!!
  • 11
    Mike J Washington November 13, 2013 at 14:32
    I used Road Ready Certified to do a preinspection of 70 Chevelle SS convertible. When I received the report back I based my decision on their report to buy the car seeing the ONLY isuue with the car was a small dent on the rear bumper. When I received the car and did my own inspection I found 24 items needing repair. Issues like rust, inop clock, paint chip/scratches,excessive play in the steering, light inop. air vents broken, seat belt not working, tears in the seat, cigarette burns on seat, and on & on. These are all straight out of their inspection list that they say they do. I would not have bought this car if I had known about all these issues. In essence they cost me $48,000.00 plus $1500.00 for shipping minus the $297.00 they refunded me. DO NOT use this company!!!!
  • 12
    John Charlestown, r.i. April 7, 2014 at 23:43
    I had road ready do an inspection on a 1941 ford, it wasn't an inspection but a bunch of nothing. I have spent close to 2000.00 so far and I'm almost there. This was suppose to be a great car with minor problems, like the heater fan clicks, a light was out, the front hood area has a minor ding. The rest was great. Well I have a list of two pages long. The car didn't start, the distributor was replaced and worn, the CARBERATOR was incorrect as the throttle cable had nowhere to be connected it was left hanging,the battery was dead, the high beams didn't work neither did the directionals. I could go on forever, it was an absolute inspection disaster of a report that I received. A bunch of lies. Don't go and make the same mistake .
  • 13
    stephanie 06605 September 12, 2014 at 11:53
    This is my first time financing a car, Anthony was able to get me approved for a loan and my payments are with in my budget. Great people with positive attitudes and I got to have the car I wanted. Proud owner of a 2009 Honda Accord Coupe :))))

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