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Old 12-04-2010, 10:54 AM   #1
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Questions about PPI

I know now that not having a PPI done before making a used car purchase is really dumb. Having one done would have saved me a lot of grief and $. I have learned my lesson.

Having never purchased a used car before this Boxster, I have no clue how a PPI even works. I assume the mechanic you hire charges a flat fee? What is the normal price range for that service? Does the mechanic go to wherever the car is or do you need to arrange to get the car to his shop? I wouldn't think a dealer would be very accommodating either way. How much time does a mechanic need to do an inspection? What kind of problems could there be that the mechanic wouldn't catch? What else does a clueless person like myself need to know about the service?

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Old 12-04-2010, 11:18 AM   #2
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I think you are confusing a PPI (pre purchase inspection) with a CPO (certified pre owned). A CPO is much like an extended warranty; a PPI is an inspection that lists the condition of the car and needed repairs..............
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Old 12-04-2010, 11:21 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Surfncpa
I assume the mechanic you hire charges a flat fee? What is the normal price range for that service? Does the mechanic go to wherever the car is or do you need to arrange to get the car to his shop? I wouldn't think a dealer would be very accommodating either way. How much time does a mechanic need to do an inspection? What kind of problems could there be that the mechanic wouldn't catch? What else does a clueless person like myself need to know about the service?
Generally there's a flat fee for a specific type of PPI.

Pre Purchase Inspections can range from $200 to $800 and more, depending on the scope of the PPI.

The best alternative is when the car is brought to the inspector, because that inspector can do his/her work easier generally because of the presence of a lift, special tools, etc. But most inspectors have to be flexible and go to where the vehicle is located. If there is no lift, then the inspector generally brings ramps in order to access the underside.

Dealerships offer PPI services, but it would be unethical for a selling dealer to perform their own PPI.

Each inspector is different, but I take close to 3 hours to inspect a vehicle and then another 3 hours to prepare the final report.

There are several issues that an inspector could miss.
For instance, an internal engine part that has a hairline fracture may work perfectly well when the vehicle is inspected and then may fail soon after.
For the most part an experienced inspector can catch almost any malady in a used vehicle where he/she is experienced.
An example would be an Intermediate Shaft Bearing that I found was bad, during an inspection. You can only see the IMS bearing after removing the transmission, clutch and flywheel, but by knowing what to look (smell) for I was able to catch a small rancid oil leak (with a particular odor) that I was able to diagnose as a bad IMS bearing.

You can check the PPI page of my website: http://www.pedrosgarage.com/Site/PPI_%28PrePurchase_Inspections%29.html for additional information on what a PPI is, the report, etc.

Happy Boxstering,
Pedro
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Old 12-04-2010, 11:22 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JFP in PA
I think you are confusing a PPI (pre purchase inspection) with a CPO (certified pre owned). A CPO is much like an extended warranty; a PPI is an inspection that lists the condition of the car and needed repairs..............
No, I am talking about having an independent mechanic do a pre purchase inspection. I have no idea how to arrange such a thing or what to expect.
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Old 12-04-2010, 11:45 AM   #5
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Thanks, Pedro. Very valuable answers for me!

From reading your site that you linked, I am thinking you steer clear of giving opinions of value of the car versus the price and just report what you see about the car?

I bought my Boxster from a Subaru dealer that acquired it on a trade in. They claimed to have done a pre-inspection and gave me paper work detailing what they did. Unfortunately it is in the car so I can't refer back to the document at the moment to see what exactly they inspected. About a week after I bought the car I took it to the Porsche dealer for 75k maintenance. I find it odd that neither the Subaru dealer or the Porsche dealer discovered the damage from a rodent infestation. The current mechanic said you wouldn't see the damage unless you had some reason be checking things on the top side of the engine or actually pulled the engine. I guess that makes sense. I presume an independent PPI would have likely caught such an issue?
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Old 12-04-2010, 01:36 PM   #6
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The way a PPI often works

is you arrange a price with the seller so he knows you are serious. You arrange with a very experienced Porsche mechanic to do the PPI and he at least tells you what he is going to do or, like Pedro, shows you the form he will use. You expect to pay for the PPI. The best thing is for the seller to deliver the car to the PPI mechanic's place of business. Then the seller and the buyer get briefed on the findings. If nothing unusual gets found, the deal is completed at the agreed upon price. If something major is detected, then both the seller and buyer get the same info and can negotiate from there.

Very similar in concept to a house inspection pre- purchase.

I bought one car without a PPI and one with. My mechanic had a several page form he used so we all knew what he was looking for. My seller was motivated (it was February and there was 6" of snow on the ground, best time to buy) so she was happy to deliver the car. Nothing serious came out in my PPI beyond needing a brake job and an alignment and tires but it could have. I had everything from compression figures to alignment specs.

My mechanic is no longer in business so I didn't mind sharing his form with Pedro when he was developing his.

The PPI depends on the experience of the mechanic. A good one will point out all the little stuff and, because he knows these cars so well, is so much better than the new owner just driving the car. Perfect, no. And no two mechanic's PPIs are exactly alike or cost the same. From memory, mine cost around $250-300.

Are they perfect? No. Catch everything? Not likely.
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Old 12-04-2010, 02:46 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Surfncpa
No, I am talking about having an independent mechanic do a pre purchase inspection. I have no idea how to arrange such a thing or what to expect.
do you have a mechanic or is this your first car ? if you have a good relation [read spend a lot of money there] with your mechanic they will look at a car for you free or recommend some one with po exp.
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Old 12-05-2010, 07:07 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Surfncpa
The current mechanic said you wouldn't see the damage unless you had some reason be checking things on the top side of the engine or actually pulled the engine. I guess that makes sense. I presume an independent PPI would have likely caught such an issue?
I don't agree with what the mechanic said.
One of the items you must check is the condition of the air filter.
In order to do that you have to access the engine from the top.
Another place that must be inspected is the front of the engine because that's where the secondary systems such as A/C compressor, alternator, water pump, belt, belt idlers & tensioner are located.
By removing the top and front engine covers the inspector can look at almost every nook and cranny in the engine.
An Boxster inspector also needs to use an endoscopy-type viewer to be able lo look at the air/oil separator's bellows which is not visible otherwise.
Also, as I said in a previous post, the inspector needs to use his/her nose as well as eyes and fingers.
So, a properly done inspection would have caught the rodent infestation.
Happy Boxstering,
Pedro
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Old 12-05-2010, 12:18 PM   #9
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It is critical that the inspector is looking out for your interests rather than the interests of the seller. In other words, you don't want to have the owner's normal shop do the PPI. If they "help" the seller sell the car, the seller will likely continue bringing their business to that shop. If the shop reports something major, the seller may never use that shop again. Always choose a shop that has no relationship with the seller.

If you do it long distance, most shops will discuss their process with you in depth. If they don't, find another shop.

Use the findings of the PPI to negotiate price. For example, if the car needs brakes, Genuine Porsche parts (pads and rotors) will cost just under $1000, and that doesn't include labor.

IMO, if you can avoid it, do not have a dealer do the PPI. They hope to sell you some parts and service. So they may tell you stuff is bad that is not. When I bought my car, it had 45k miles on it. The dealer who did the PPI told me it needed a clutch. It's got 65k on it now, and the clutch is still good.
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Old 12-05-2010, 12:56 PM   #10
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If you don't have your own trusted mechanic, easiest will be to call and arrange an appt at a porsche dealership. I think they charge an hour for the PPI about $125. But careful PPI are not always accurate.
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Old 12-05-2010, 03:19 PM   #11
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Just to throw in my two cents' worth here....

Buy the youngest S you can find, and don't compromise on anything you really want in your Porsche. Colors, features, mileage, repair and maintenance records, and so forth.

If you can only afford a base model, wait and save more money. No one gripes about the extra HP but we all gripe when forced to live with less, especially in the 986's. The newer 987 base models have as much HP as the late 986 S's, which is great, but if you drive both you'll see for yourself.

I so wish I had been far pickier. I'd be driving a 2003 S right now. Drive a lot of boxsters before you decide on one in particular. Then get that PPI.

Happy Boxster hunting! This is a great time of year and in the middle of a deep recession to be looking for a pre-owned boxster. You should find a lot of excellent examples for a lot less than normal in January when there's snow on the ground and our Congress has slapped us all with higher taxes.

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