Why Inspect?

When buying a used car, don’t be misled by a steam-cleaned engine compartment and a recently detailed car. You ought to know the real condition of the car before you purchase it. Be twice as cautious if the seller or salesperson from the dealer who attempts in talking you out of your rights to have the car professionally inspected. Any respectable dealer or trustworthy seller will support the idea of getting an unbiased inspection before you purchase. There is no reason for you to buy somebody else's problem.

There are many good reasons why you should get a professional inspection done before you purchase a used car. Below are examples of some especially good reasons that you should be aware of:-

Important Facts

According to the statistical information given by the Transport Department of Hong Kong, there were 101,380 incidences of road accidents that involved private cars or light goods vehicles within 10 years time (between the years 1996-2005 inclusive).

Let’s assume that an average car has an on-road lifespan of 10years, it would mean there is a 1 in 4 chance of finding a car in Hong Kong that has been involved in an accident sometime in its lifespan.








No. of Private Car Accident Involvements







No. of Light Goods Vehicle Accident Involvements













10 years Total

No. of Private Car Accident Involvements







No. of Light Goods Vehicle Accident Involvements







Total number of Accidents







Total number of Licensed Private Cars as of April 2006


Total number of Licensed Light Goods Vehicles as of April 2006




Knowing that 20% of the cars out there would have had been in an accident in the past, finding a good used car to buy isn’t as easy a job as you would think.

Substandard Past Repairs

Previous repairs may be unfinished, of substandard quality or left DANGEROUS and they are often disguised from the car owner due to negligence, revenue advantage or obvious incompetence.

It is usual for repairers to discover a poor past repair and the car will receive a similar poor treatment for its subsequent repairs. Similarly, for a car with high quality repairs, identically high quality repairs will be conducted again the next time round. Only the kind of inspection conducted by HK Motor Inspection can accurately determine the genuine condition of the used car and how it was previously looked after.

You will be accountable for the Repair

The buyer will be accountable for all repairs after the car is purchased. Used cars from recent years have become very sophisticated. It is unwise to only count on a friend, relative, an amateur/junior mechanic to perform a general inspection. Hong Kong Motor Inspection uses only highly experienced mechanics that are also professional panel beaters to thoroughly inspect a used car to find out the real condition before you make your purchase.

Risks with Alternative Inspections

There is always a risk when purchasing a used car. The amount of risk you take will depend on your knowledge about the real condition of the vehicle before purchase. Below are the risks associated with the various types of inspections used by car buyers.

- Inspection by friends/relatives
- Inspection by amateur/relatives
- Inspection covered by Used-car dealers
- Inspection by repair shops

Inspection by friends or relatives

Many years ago, motor vehicles used to be quite simple; anyone with the fundamental knowledge of motor vehicles will be able to assist you when buying a used car. However, due to the ever advancing technology in the motor vehicle systems, today’s cars have become too complex for friends and relatives to perform an inspection accurately. This means that if you do choose to have friends or relatives to inspect your car, then there exists a high risk that you may end up having to spend extra hundreds or thousands of dollars for repairs, and this could be costly to your friendship as well.

Inspection by amateur mechanics

You might know of someone that has an interest in performing DIY minor repairs or general service on cars for fun. However, only a highly experienced mechanic is proficient enough to accurately inspect every electrical and mechanical system as well as accurately analyze the body structure of today's complex motor vehicle systems. You ought to keep in mind that at the end of the day, all undetected mechanical problems and body structure damage could end up turning into your safety and financial worries.

Inspection covered by Used-car dealers

Most used car dealers acquire their stocks from wholesalers, trade-ins and auctions, and usually they make their purchase decisions based heavily on the looks alone. There are a few financial motives why the dealers do not always have their newly obtained used cars thoroughly inspected before they are put back into the market for sale again. (1) Having a highly experienced mechanics pulled away from performing the normal profit making repair tasks to inspect the vehicle for free is not very rational as it is usually not revenue generating for the company. (2) If any faults/problems are found at the end of the inspection, the dealer is obligated to make these problems known to the future potential buyers. (3) The more faults/problems that need to be repaired prior to putting the used cars back into the market for sale, the fewer profit margins there will be for the dealer. All the above mentioned reasons are sufficient to explain why it is not at the dealer’s best interests to have each and everyone of their used vehicle properly inspected prior to putting them back into the market for sale again.

Inspection by repair shops

Today’s vehicles have become very sophisticated that most repair shops specialize on only a certain few aspects of the vehicle. Imagine how much trouble you will have to go through if there is a used car you are interested in buying, and you had to first take the car to an engine diagnostic shop, then to a transmission repair shop, an air-conditioning repair shop, a brake shop and a body structure/panel repair shop, etc., hoping to get each of the specific areas properly inspected before making the final decision.

On the other hand, you may choose to take the used car to a full-service/dealership repair shop, but there is no incentive for them to re-assign their best mechanics (with the most experience) from a high revenue return repair tasks to carry out a time consuming and lower revenue return pre-purchase inspection. It will be more than likely that a junior mechanic, with limited experience and limited knowledge, will get to perform the inspection checks on the used car.

Also, there exists a conflict of interest for repair shops to perform such type of inspection task as they will expect you to have repairs done by them if they found any faults with the car.

Frame Inspections are Critical

Frame Inspections are Critical because a previously frame damaged motor vehicle may not be structurally safe again even if it has been properly repaired. There are two types of manufacturing process used for building the motor vehicle body:

  1. Unibody Construction, and
  2. Body-on-Frame Construction.

Unibody Contruction

Unibody Contruction is a manufacturing process where sheet metal is bent and welded together to form the box shape of the car. This type of process is designed to have crumple zone which makes the car crumples easily during a collision. It is designed to absorb the impact of collision and thereby protect the passengers in car accidents. Most modern vehicles are manufactured with a unibody construction.

Body-on-Frame Construction

Body-on-Frame Construction is a method in which the vehicle body, engine, driveline and suspension are bolted onto a weight-bearing frame. It is a preferred method for manufacturing trucks and other heavy duty vehicles as it tends to be more robust and longer lasting.

In a collision, a vehicle with Unibody frame is designed to crumple and absorb the energy of the impact better than those with a Body-on-Frame construction. However, the Unibody frame was not designed to withstand more than one accident, and this is why you sometimes hear news relating to low speed collisions causing serious injuries, or even deaths, to the passengers. A unibody motor vehicle, with previous frame damage, will have a significantly weaken body and thereby compromising its structural safety. The only way to find out the real structural safety of a repaired unibody vehicle is to test if the passengers and the car itself can survive another collision.

Also, there seems to be a direct relationship between vehicles with previous collision damages and chronic mechanical problems. In many cases, these chronic mechanical problems are usually attributed from some past accident and un-repaired or un-repairable frame damage(s). Also, don’t forget that a car with previous damage(s) will be considered as lower in its worth than the same type of car without any previous damage.

Frame inspections should be conducted to determine previous collision damage such as rebuilt or damaged frame channels, frame rails, front and rear frame horns, subframes, floorpans, core supports, upper and lower control arms, valence panels, crossmembers, rust damage, non-factory welds, etc. A frame specialist will be able to inform the buyer if the frame is the same as when it came from the factory.

Most motor vehicle mechanics have little or no experience in body and frame repair. There is large difference between a mechanical technician and a body and frame technician. Rarely will you find a repair shop that has both expertises under one roof. Every HKMI Inspector is an experienced mechanical specialist as well as a body and frame specialist. Before purchasing, make sure the vehicle has been professionally inspected by HKMI.

Hong Kong Motor Inspection provides a complete frame, mechanical, and electrical inspection. This comprehensive inspection will let you know of the truecondition of the vehicle before purchase.

Don't decide by looks alone - every used car should be clean and good looking. However, an HKMI inspection will determine existing problems such as previous accident damage, prior substandard repairs, odometer discrepancies, needed mechanical repairs and maintenance areas, misuse and abuse, etc.. Once you make the purchase, these problems can cost you hundreds to thousands of dollars to fix. Without a professional inspection, you could be buying a ticking financial time bomb, or buy a vehicle for more than its true value.

Remaining warranties might be voided

Late model vehicles may have remaining factory warranties, but they may be voided. Some used car buyers prefer newer used vehicle because it still has some remaining original factory warranty. Unfortunately, once purchased, they are shocked to find out their warranty is actually voided.

There are normally 3 sources for late model used vehicles with remaining original factory warranty; leased vehicles, rental vehicles, and individual owners. Be wary, as these newer used vehicles have a higher chance of odometer tampering and/or accident damage which can void their warranty. Manufacturers are now taking a more rigid approach to reject warranty claims leaving the repair costs to the current owner's responsibility to pay.

It is the buyer's responsibility to determine the true condition of a used vehicle before purchase. If you are looking at purchasing a used vehicle with remaining original factory warranty - have it professionally inspected for odometer tampering, previous accident damage, misuses or abuses, all of which can be the basis for voiding any remaining warranty.

Reconditioned Salvage vehicles

Reconditioned salvaged vehicles may be put back into the used car market. One of the major fears for used car buyers is the possibility of the used car industry recycling the salvaged vehicles back into the used car market. These once salvaged vehicles pose a financial, and safety risk for the general public. There are many means through which salvaged vehicles are recycled back onto the road, and this is just one example: - A vehicle has been declared a total loss by an insurance company because of accident damage such as collision damage, flood, fire, and theft recovery, etc. A total loss vehicle means that it is cannot be cost effectively repaired up to its mechanical and/or structural safety standards, and should only be reuse for components only. These total loss vehicles are usually sold to wreckers and repair shops or through a salvage auction.

However, unethical repair shops and dealers can purchase these salvage vehicles and then try to repair them or they might cut off the good sections of various salvaged cars to create another motor vehicle. They put a fresh coat of paint on the reassembled car and then it is ready to be put back into the used car market. This kind of reassembled cars may look good cosmetically, but in fact, they are mechanically and structurally unsafe and probably worth only a fraction of the book value.

Sometimes, these once salvaged vehicles may end up at reputable dealers who have no idea the car was rebuilt from salvage. Othertimes, there actually exist many used car dealers, wholesalers, auctions, and private re-sellers who are willing to sell vehicles that have questionable histories mainly because of monetary incentives. Dealers can make double the profit on selling a used car rebuilt from salvage as opposed to selling a normal used ar in good condition.

Reconditioned vehicles are not recommended for purchase as these cars may have chronic problems that there is no way to find out if the vehicle is mechanically and structurally safe. Vehicles reconditioned from flood damage may not have structural problems, but they most likely will inherit some chronic electrical, mechanical, and rust problems that will again make the vehicle not worthy of purchasing.