Car Buying

What Happens During a Car Inspection?

Find out every step of the car inspection process as we run through how they work in-depth and what happens in them to put your mind at ease. Car inspections are one of the most complex processes in the automotive world. What is car inspection eventually and why would you need one at the first place? They put a car through its paces in every way possible to make sure you have a clear and concise idea of what you’re buying to keep you safe financially and physically, without the worry and stress. Before booking one you need to know just a little bit more about the inspection. How the inspection booking process works. What actually happens during a pre-purchase vehicle inspection before you commit to getting one. CarExamer and what we do.

In reality, the inspection process is very straight forward. After you book a time slot and location online that suits you best, an inspector heads to your location, tests the car following the concise methodology they have put together, and give you a report on what’s happened. It’s that easy for most instances.

If you’re still curious about what each of these stages involves, however, then we’re here to outline the process in full. 

Let’s walk you through it.

Step 1. Inspector Arrives

Firstly, the inspector arrives and has to take care of the formalities of the process. They will arrive at the location you have provided, speak with the vendor to exchange information, and collect any other information about the car that is available. That’s as well as the keys to the vehicle to make sure the inspector has everything they could possibly need. Then the inspection begins. You don’t have to be there while any of this takes place.

Step 2. Ignition & Power Train

The main area of concern for any vehicle comes from the powertrain. That is where the bulk of the car inspection is focussed on when reviewing what happens during one. The inspector will begin their inspection by taking a brief look at your vehicle as they begin the process, and then get in the vehicle to ignite the engine. This allows the car to be observed during the ignition process, as well as seeing how the car performs when idle, and for any major issues to show themselves as the car is tested carefully.

Step 3. Test Drive

Once the standing test of the powertrain is over, the car needs to be tested properly. This is where the car will be taken for a road test and any issues that come from the general use of the vehicle can be sighted and noted down for later inspection and diagnostics. Generally, this will involve the car being driven for 10-15 minutes by the inspector, who is completely covered by their trade insurance.

Step 4. Electrical Components Tested

After the test drive is complete where the inspector has the opportunity to take a look at everything in action and the power train is properly analysed, the next part of what happens during the car inspection comes to life. The electrical systems are looked over to check that everything is right there, too. That includes everything from your windows, locking systems and electrical accessories through to lighting, wiring and whatever else is available to the inspector at the time before the battery check that follows.

Step 5. Checks Interior

After checking all of the electrics inside the vehicle, the inspector also proceeds to check the interior condition of the vehicle as well, provided this is included in the package you select (for example, this is included in our standard and premium packages, but not the basics). This involves looking over the interior condition, seatbelts, carpets, doors, mirrors, and just about everything else that you can think of too.

Step 6. Under the bonnet & battery system

Once all of the required attention is given to the interior of the car, the process then moves into the bonnet of the vehicle. This is where the more nitty-gritty things are checked out. The inspector analyses things like the condition of the cambelt and the engine itself, as well as checking for things like coolant, brake fluid, oil quality and all other aspects of the sort. The battery maintenance and condition is also given a lot of attention during this process to make sure that it is in the right condition and there are no issues which might result in electrical issues or replacements down the line, especially for hybrid vehicles.

Step 7. Brakes, wheels, tyres and steering

The next port of call for the inspector is the wheels, and everything related to them, too. That means your tyre wear and health will be looked at, alongside the quality of the brakes and their current efficiency, as well as the condition of the wheels themselves and their steering as a result of that. It’s an incredibly thorough part of the inspection and has one of the biggest impacts on your overall safety, since this is the only area of the vehicle that has contact with the road.

Step 8. Tests Underbody & Cosmetics

Following the wheel inspection, the underbody and the cosmetics of the car are the final major area of inspection. This is where your vehicle is checked for any major structural issues and is a main point of what happens during a car inspection. Things like bumps and dents, or any issues with your suspension as well. Following on from that, that’s where the exterior of the car is tested. Things like paintwork consistency, scratches etc. are the main players here, and it also allows the inspector to determine if there are any abnormal parts used on the vehicle which could indicate previous issues with the car too.

Step 9. Diagnostic into any issues outlined

Any of the points above could have had much more serious implications than they first seemed. The car is tested profusely to make sure that any problem that could be even suggested is checked out as much as possible. The car will have complete diagnostic services carried out to make sure that every area that possibly can be checked, will be checked, and ultimately, you know exactly what is wrong (or not) with the vehicle in question.

Step 10. Completion and Report

After all of this is completed, the inspection draws to a close. The whole process usually takes around an hour and a half (90 minutes, on average), and you should receive your personalised report within 3 hours of the inspection beginning. The report you receive does include images of anything that has been outlined by the inspector, and again, depending on the package you have selected, you may have further support from an inspector too. That includes things like an audio report, video support to demonstrate any issues, and even a call back with the inspector to discuss anything you would like to put your mind at ease and make sure you have a complete understanding of the situation.


In a nutshell, that is the entire car inspection process from top to bottom. Everything that happens during one laid out into each section of the process. Inspections do vary from provider to provider, but as far as the packages from CarExamer go, it’s this kind of process that you can expect if you book with our experts.

We go above and beyond wherever we can to make sure that our customers have the best inspection experience they possibly can, and will do everything we can during your inspection to make sure you have everything you need to make an informed decision without any nasty surprises.

We have free cancellations in case you change your mind before your inspection begins, and we also offer a multi car discount if you have a few different options you’d like to know more about before committing.

If there’s anything else the CarExamer team can help you with before, during, or after your inspection, contact us today and we’ll do our best to help any way we can.

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