Tag Archives: inspection

Green repo truck

Top 10 Things to Check When Buying a Repossessed Car

This entry was posted in Repo Cars and tagged , , on by .

Purchasing a repossessed car can be a great way to save money, but it comes with its own set of challenges. Unlike new cars, used vehicles might have a history of repairs, accidents and maintenance issues that potential buyers need to consider. To help you make a more informed decision and secure a reliable vehicle, here’s a list of the top 10 things to check when buying any type of used car.

1. Vehicle History Report

Start by obtaining a vehicle history report from services like Carfax or AutoCheck. This report can provide critical information about the car’s past, including accident history, ownership history and whether it has been involved in any major incidents like flooding or fires. This is often the only way to know a repo car’s history. 

2. Exterior Condition

Schedule a time to see the vehicle. Inspect the car’s exterior thoroughly. Look for rust, paint chips and scratches, as well as signs of major repair or body filler use. Check the condition of the tires, including tread depth and even wear. Don’t forget to look under the car for any signs of leaks or rust.

3. Interior Condition

Examine the interior for wear and tear. This includes checking the upholstery for rips, stains or bad odors. Test all electronic components like the air conditioning, radio and all lights. Make sure the dashboard indicators function correctly when you start the car. If you notice any issues, which is not uncommon with repos, take note of them. The bid should reflect the work the vehicle needs. 

4. Engine Condition

The engine is the heart of the car, so it’s crucial to check for leaks, rust, oil level and condition. Start the engine and listen for any unusual noises such as knocking or hissing, which could indicate mechanical problems.

5. Test Drive

A test drive can reveal many issues that you might not notice by just inspecting the car. Pay attention to how the car handles, any unusual engine or brake noises and whether all the controls (like turn signals and wipers) work properly. Please note that many repo cars cannot be test driven for liability reasons. If this is the case, you can at least see the car in person, start it up and inspect it. 

6. Mileage

While lower mileage might seem like a plus, it’s important to consider how those miles were accumulated. Cars with higher mileage from highway driving are generally in better condition than those with lower mileage from short trips or city driving.

7. Maintenance History

Ask for the car’s maintenance records to see if the previous owner took good care of it. Regular oil changes and checks are good signs that the car was well-maintained. However, it’s uncommon for repo cars to have this information. The bank is considered the “new” owner, and they rarely know the vehicle’s history. Err on the side of caution and assume that the car wasn’t being maintained.

 8. Frame Issues

Check the car’s frame for any signs of damage or repairs, which can affect the vehicle’s safety and alignment. Look under the vehicle for any signs of welding or new parts attached to the frame, which might indicate a past accident.

9. Under the Hood

Inspect under the hood for worn belts and hoses. Check the radiator, battery and fluids. Fluids should be clean and filled to the appropriate levels. Cloudy or gritty oil, for example, can be a sign of serious engine issues.

10. Professional Inspection

Finally, always consider getting a pre-purchase inspection from a trusted mechanic. This can be a crucial step in identifying potential problems that might not be visible to the untrained eye. Even though you may be getting a great deal, the car is likely to need some repairs and maintenance. 

By carefully checking these areas, you can better assess the condition of a used car and avoid purchasing a vehicle that could cost you more in repairs than it’s worth. Remember, taking the time to perform these checks can help ensure you make a wise investment. To shop for repossessed vehicles in your area, visit RepoFinder.com today. 


Stoplight System: Use This When Shopping at a Car Auction

When shopping at a car auction, many people use the “stoplight system” to determine if a vehicle is a good purchase or not. This is an important system to know for two reasons. First, using the stoplight system can help you find the best repo car for your needs. Second, when you understand the stoplight system, you’ll know what the sellers are talking about when they use terms like “red and yellow light.” 

Let’s learn more about the stoplight system and how to use it to your advantage during live or online auctions. 

What is the Stoplight System? 

Auctions have a standard light/video display system to describe the condition and/or disclosures related to the vehicle being sold. It’s an easy and straightforward way for sellers to communicate and for buyers to know what they’re bidding on.

Here is how the stoplight system breaks down: 

  • Green light. A green light indicates that a vehicle is ready to “ride and drive.” If you see a car with a green light, it means that the vehicle is free from any known defects. If anything major turns up with the car, arbitration is possible. 
  • Yellow light. A yellow light is more common with repossessed vehicles because it limits arbitration. Vehicles with a yellow light have some acknowledged issues, so arbitration is not an option. 
  • Red light. When it comes to repossessed cars, red lights are most common. This is not to say that the vehicles are in poor condition but rather that they are being sold as-is. Because repo cars are sold in their current condition, they often fall into this category. Arbitration is not an option. 
  • Red and yellow light. It’s possible for a vehicle to have both red and yellow lights. What this means is that the vehicle will only qualify for arbitration under the rules in the policy. Essentially, you’re buying an as-is car with no arbitration. 
  • Blue light. This light is used to tell buyers that the title is not present at the time of sale. 

Know Your Buyer Responsibilities 

As the buyer, it’s important to know what your responsibilities are. Being a smart and savvy shopper ensures you get a good vehicle that is safe and fairly priced. At RepoFinder, we strongly encourage all buyers to schedule a post-sale inspection (PSI). It’s also possible that the vehicle has the original warranty intact. You won’t get any dealer warranties, but if the vehicle is still under warranty, this will be transferred to you. 

Between using the stoplight system and having a post-sale inspection done, your chances of getting a good quality repo are much higher. To start your search for a repo vehicle, click on your state on our homepage and view the banks with repos available! 

mechanic checking a vehicle

How to Get a Pre-Purchase Inspection for an Out-of-State Repo

This entry was posted in Repo Cars and tagged , , , on by .

Unlike new and used vehicle purchases from a dealership, repos are sold “as-is.” This means that you buy the car in its current condition with no option for a refund. In return for an “as-is” sale, you get a vehicle at a highly discounted price. Inspecting the repo ensures you bring home a safe and reliable car that may only require cosmetic improvements or minor repairs.

But, what happens if you find a car that you love but in a different state? This is common with repos as inventory can be limited. Below are some tips on how to get a pre-purchase inspection for an out-of-state repo. 

Gather information on the vehicle 

When you use a repo finder tool like RepoFinder.com, you can shop for repos by state. So, let’s say that you broaden your search and find a repo a couple of states over. The first thing to do is let the seller know that you are interested. There’s usually a Contact button that allows you to contact the seller. They may even be able to give you more information about the car’s condition. 

Inspect the online photos 

Take a close look at the photos available online. You can learn a lot from online auction photos, such as the condition of the interior and exterior, frame damage and wheel misalingment. Having lots of pictures is a good indication that the car is in fair shape. If you’re having trouble getting photos, it may mean that the seller is trying to hide damage. 

Send out a local mechanic 

If everything looks good so far, send out a mechanic who can assess the vehicle for you. Here is a great resource from the IAA that lists qualified companies that provide vehicle inspection services. Find an inspection company in the state the vehicle is in and ask about their availability. 

Notify the seller

Let the seller know that you plan to have the vehicle inspected. Coordinate with the seller and the vehicle inspection service to place an appointment. It’s possible that the two parties can talk to each other to figure out a good time, but this rarely happens. Instead, expect to schedule this appointment on your own after speaking to both parties.

Get the results

Because this is a repo sale, the seller may not bring it to a mechanic. You’ll most likely count on the mechanic to travel to the site on their own time. So, expect to pay around $250 or more for this. Once the mechanic has checked everything, they will give you an update over the phone. Mechanics don’t always catch everything, but at least you’ll have a pretty good idea if the car is worth buying or not.

Out-of-state repos are definitely more of a hassle than in-state ones, but sometimes people can’t find what they’re looking for unless they expand their reach. For a complete list of repo cars, trucks and recreational vehicles in or around your area, visit RepoFinder.com

cars in a flood

How to Look for Flood Damage in a Used Vehicle

This entry was posted in Repo Cars and tagged , , , on by .

Every year, thousands of vehicles are damaged in floods. Some of them are expected to be sold on the used car market, putting consumers at risk. Floodwater damage can lead to safety risks because parts in the engine, transmission and drive train become damaged. This means that they won’t work properly, making cars unreliable and unsafe on the road. 

Fortunately, there are ways to look for flood damage in a repossession or used vehicle. Below we’ll teach you how to spot the signs of floodwater damage and how to keep you and your passengers safe. 

Ask about the Vehicle’s History

The first thing you can do is ask about the history of the vehicle. A dealer can verify that there is no damage, as they must report the car’s condition back to the consumer accurately. However, in the case of repossessions, there may be no way to tell where the vehicle came from. Lenders and banks often have no history on repossessions, which means you’ll have to do some more investigating. 

Check the VIN 

Always check the VIN before buying a used car. There are a number of sites you can use, such as the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s VinCheck or Experian’s Auto Check. These reports provide a detailed history report. You can find out if flood damage was reported or the vehicle was given a salvage title. Additionally, pay attention to where the vehicle was from. Were there recent hurricanes or storms in the area? 

Inspect the Interior 

The next step is to check the interior of the vehicle. Responsible sellers will allow you to do this before placing a bid on the repo. Here is what we recommend paying attention to: 

  • Damp, musty odors 
  • Dirt buildup in unusual places
  • Sludge or debris in unusual places
  • Excessive use of deodorizers
  • Unusual aesthetic upgrades, like brand new interior fabric 
  • Rusted or corroded electrical wiring 

Look at the Exterior 

It’s normal for repossessions to have some exterior damage, especially as many sit outside for extended periods of time. But, there are a few things to pay attention to. First, look for moisture beads or fog in the light fixtures. This is hard to remove, so a car with water damage will often have foggy lights. 

Second, check for signs of rust. Corrosion is not common in vehicles that are new or owned in warmer climates. Lastly, there are rubber drain plugs located under the vehicle and doors. If they look like they were messed with, it’s possible they were used to drain water. 


Make sure to always bring a trusted expert with you when inspecting the repo. There are many great cars out there, and you want to be sure that you walk away with one. To browse repossessions in your area, visit RepoFinder.com today.