Q: What tye of prepurchase inspection is best? Bringing mechanic to the dealership or bringing car to the mechanic's shop?

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I am considering a 2008 GMC Yukon Denali with 120,000 miles (one owner) versus a 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan RT with 44,000 miles (fleet vehicle). I am not sure vehicle has a better reputation as one is so new it's really not known what could go wrong as of yet but I have been told that Caravans tend to have issues with the transmissions.

Additionally, I want to get an opinion as to what type of pre-purchase inspection is better. The kind where a mechanic comes to the dealership or the kind where I bring the car to the shop?

Lastly, what does a good inspection consist of?



The tools used in an inspection are portable and so either option will work. A more more important consideration in purchasing an inspection is the training of the mechanic and the mechanic’s ability, and interest, in finding that which is relevant while analyzing the vehicle. To eliminate as much uncertainty as possible, YourMechanic has a very specific and detailed pre-purchase vehicle inspection. If you look at the just cited link for YourMechanic’s inspection service, you will see a long list of the vehicle systems that must be inspected as well as details of YourMechanic’s inspection methodology.

With regard to the two vehicles you have cited, you want to confirm that neither vehicle has never been in a collision (Carfax might be helpful) and that the vehicle does not have any outstanding recall-related repairs. If Carfax notes accident or collision damage, walk away from the transaction or demand a large discount to cover the risk. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration maintains a database of consumer complaints, official recalls and factory service bulletins for all makes and models, by year. I encourage you to go to the NHTSA website and enter each vehicle’s year, make and model and review the detailed existing reports which will give you an excellent idea of what has actually been experienced by other owners insofar as faults in the particular vehicle you are interested in. I reviewed the reports for the 2016 Caravan. There are 5 recalls, 1 outstanding NHTSA investigation, and about 55 detailed consumer complaints. If you review all that material, you will learn, at a glance, what sort of vehicle it is and what sort of experience is likely. I would post the text of the reports here, but they are detailed so it will be more practical for you to view them online (it is free). In addition, "Consumer Reports" publishes system-by-system vehicle reliability data for all years, makes, and models. This data is available free in the library or on-line if you are a paid subscriber. That reliability data will give you an excellent indication of the relative likelihood that key systems on the model (and year) of interest to you will fail at greater, or lesser, frequency compared to those rates reported for other vehicles. Obviously, what you want to be looking for in that database is an indication that the vehicle "make and model year" is not a "lemon" insofar as reliability. If you are unable to access any of these resources, or desire data of a different type, please do not hesitate for a moment to re-contact YourMechanic and we will assist you further in your attempts to make a wise used vehicle purchase.

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