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What Do I Do If An Inspection Reveals Issues On A Used Car?

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As Jalopnik’s resident car buying expert and professional car shopper, I get emails. Lots of emails. I’ve decided to pick a few questions and try to help out. This week we are talking about issued revealed on a used car inspection, lift kits voiding warranties, and how long it should take a dealer to locate a vehicle.

First up, what is the best course of action when a pre-purchase inspection reveals some issues?

“I was wondering what happens when a PPI shows issues. If there are minor repairs or maintenance that’s needed, does the seller usually take care of this before purchase or is this negotiated to lower the price?

How about if there are more expensive maintenance/repairs that are needed (out of engine service for example) where the cost could be in the thousands?”


Pre-purchase inspections are very important in determining the condition of a used car. Sometimes those inspections reveal some trouble spots. The severity of the details will determine your course of action. If it’s something minor like the car needs new brakes, you can either have the seller replace those components prior to the sale or negotiate a discount off the price to cover the cost.

If the inspection reveals something major, like the car needs an entire engine rebuilt, you probably want to walk away and find another vehicle.


Next up, will a lift kit automatically void the warranty?

“I just bought a 2019 Subaru Outback and would like to add a 2 inch lift kit to it. Would this automatically void my warranty? “

According to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, a modification in and of itself does not void the warranty. However, if you have a problem with your car and it requires a warranty repair, the automaker may be able to deny that claim if the issue was connected to your modification. So if your navigation system is being weird, that wouldn’t be connected to your lift kit. But if you experience issues with your suspension or brakes, you might be put into a difficult spot.

Finally, what is the typical turnaround time if a dealer says they can locate a car?

“’I’ m trying to purchase a 2020 Hyundai Elantra Value in blue. I found a dealer that showed it in stock, arrived ready to buy. We drove around the lot a few minutes, the salesman got the stock number, went inside and told me the car has been sold the day before. I’m not in a rush and they told me it should only be a few days to get the car. I filled out paperwork and was told again “a day or two to locate”. It’s been five days now and they’re telling me they still haven’t found one. I don’t think they’re dragging their feet as they’ve been very good, salesman and finance both said they were happy how easy it was to work with me as I knew what I wanted and was approved for 0%.

Is it normal for them to be having issues getting the car? Naive me thought it would be on a shipment with more cars and I would have confirmation of the vehicle along with a rough time frame. It’s not the time to arrive that has me curious, it’s the time to locate and confirm.”


Often if a dealer doesn’t have the car you want in stock they can locate one at another store and either buy that car or trade for it. On something rare, this may take some time.

I don’t imagine a blue Hyundai Elantra is a difficult car to find, though perhaps that particular trim and color combo is not popular in your area. If the dealer hasn’t gotten back to you in five days, either they forgot about it, or they can’t find your car.


The best thing to do is to use Hyundai’s website or a third-party listing site like Autotrader or to locate the car you want. Then call the dealer to confirm availability.