A second-hand car might be cheap and easy to run - but being aware of its mechanical history is critical. No one wants to buy a lemon with defects that requires costly repairs later on. You want to know your purchase is in good condition.

Often you won't be able to tell if something is wrong with a car just by looking at it. The easiest way to safeguard against a bad buy is to get a vehicle inspection before you sign on the dotted line, to ensure the car is in good working condition mechanically.

Here's an overview of items that will get checked when you bring your car in for a vehicle inspection: 

  • Engine -> oil and fluid levels, cooling system, power steering, radiator condition and drive belts are all examined within the engine check. Your car will also be taken on a road test.
  • Under body -> including an examination of your car's exhaust system, drive line, steering components, suspension, fuel hoses, wheel bearings and shock absorbers. 
  • Brakes -> brake pads and discs, the hand brake and brake hoses will all be closely checked.
  • Tyres -> covers a check of all types - including spare, rims and nuts. 
  • Battery and charging system -> terminals, leads, charge rate, condition, battery type and size will all be checked.
  • Lighting - exterior and interior
  • Interior components

Plus, you'll also get a thorough check of your car's seatbelts, window operation and air conditioning system. 

Vehicle inspections

Car history report

Included in a vehicle inspection is a car history report

This report covers a range of aspects relating to its previous owner, service history and an account of any accidents it has been involved in.

Your car history report will provide you with a PPSR (Personal Property Securities Register) certificate that includes detailed information about finance or money owing, if the car was written off or stolen, updates about flood or storm damage, registration details and the car's ANCAP Safety & Emission Rating.

Need a mobile vehicle inspection?

RAC offer vehicle inspections across all makes and models. Book through our mobile mechanic network for a convenient, custom-built inspection. 

Book an inspection

Our main focus is safety, so we do not inspect body, paint or interior components other than those mentioned. We do not dismantle or disturb any structure, assembly, component or internal mechanism (MRB 935) Find out more about the terms and conditions of our vehicle inspections here.


Last updated June 2019