Differences Between Used Car Inspections and Appraisals

While the terms car inspection and car appraisal are similar, they are not the same when it comes to used vehicles. Both involve the assessment and evaluation of a vehicle to assess its qualities and roadworthiness, but the methods that go into each are very different, as are the situations where they’re used.

At Adonis Auto Group, we’re happy to provide not only a wide range of used cars for sale, plus bad-credit and low-credit car loans, but also auto body and other types of vehicle service, including inspections of vehicles and many related solutions. How do inspections and appraisals differ for a used car, which of these do you need, and where can you get it? Here’s a primer.

differences used car inspections appraisals

Basics on Vehicle Inspections

A car inspection is a regular maintenance process that ensures the vehicle is safe for use, and is mandatory for road safety. A thorough inspection will include an assessment of all of the car’s aspects, and some of the more common items that can be inspected are tires, brakes, lights, seatbelts, mirrors, fluid levels and steering.

A car inspection is a technical assessment of the vehicle that will reveal any problems it may have, and therefore if it’s safe to use on public roads. This can be performed at the time of purchase only, but many drivers choose to get an annual or semi-annual inspection done on their cars as well.

When Are Vehicle Inspections Necessary?

To some degree, how often you’ll have to get a vehicle inspection will vary based on your state. Eighteen out of the 50 states require some kind of mandatory annual or biennial vehicle inspection.

The state of Texas is one of these, requiring that all vehicles receive a safety inspection. This inspection must be done annually, and will be comprehensive for the safety features in the vehicle.

However, there are a number of other situations where you will either want or need to have your car inspected:

  • After a major car accident, as a way of determining whether the car is safe to continue driving on the road.
  • When you buy a used car from someonel; if there is any doubt over the safety of the vehicle you will want to take it in for an inspection.
  • Anytime you’re planning on selling your car, this will allow buyers to be confident in the vehicle that they’re buying.
  • Naturally, the same goes for purchasing a preowned car, which is one of the most common settings where inspections will be carried out.

Where Can You Get a Vehicle Inspection?

Most car dealerships will offer some kind of a warranty or inspection service and will be able to perform this for you. This may also be worth considering even if you’re not buying from them but are just in the market for a car. As long as they’re licensed and have the equipment necessary, they’re usually happy to do it.

An alternative is an independent mechanic shop that specializes in vehicle inspections. Some will charge a flat fee for inspection services, while others may charge by the hour (or based on the type of service requested). In this case, you may want to take note of any repairs that are required – your mechanic can give you a quote before actually doing any work.

Finally, in some cases, you may be able to schedule or obtain a vehicle inspection through your insurance company, which will sometimes offer them.

What is a Vehicle Appraisal?

A car appraisal, on the other hand, is a formal assessment of the condition and value of a vehicle before it is sold. It’s similar to a car inspection, but this process will take longer because the appraiser needs to study the entire vehicle – inside and out – in order to establish its condition. In addition, while vehicle inspections are often mandatory for driving, appraisals generally are not.

To get an accurate estimate of the worth of your car, you’ll need more than one appraisal. You can usually request one from a dealership or a trusted mechanic/shop that you visit often. The other can be done by an independent appraiser on websites like Kelley Blue Book or NADA (National Automobile Dealers Association).

In general, these fees are paid for when you buy the car, which will reduce their cost. If you’re selling the car yourself, you’ll need to pay for the appraisal at that time.

What Are the Benefits and Purposes of Car Appraisals?

An appraisal serves a number of purposes and is designed to help both sellers and buyers:

  • It provides an impartial estimate of your vehicle’s value in today’s market. This can be especially useful if you’re considering selling your own car.
  • It will help you determine the asking price of your vehicle, which is a critical component of any sale. If you are selling on your own, a few minutes spent with an appraisal calculator can save you plenty of headaches during negotiations (and time!). If the buyer doesn’t agree to these terms, you won’t have to accept the sale.
  • Car appraisals can also be helpful for buying, in that they will give you a better idea of what your car is actually worth. This is especially important when purchasing used cars so that you don’t pay more than they’re worth.
  • Finally, if you’re shopping for a new car, it’s a good idea to find out how much the used models in your area are actually worth. This will give you an idea of what you should be paying, and help you determine whether or not haggling is necessary.

For more on the differences between vehicle inspection and appraisal, or to learn about any of our used cars for sale or assistance with vehicle financing, speak to the staff at Adonis Auto Group today.

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