New Feature Alert: Pre-Purchase Inspections!

Buying a car online can be risky. Especially when it’s far away and covered in dust! That’s why we have always recommended that buyers get a pre-purchase inspection done before sending anyone any money. Including this step in your car buying process could help you avoid some scams and a lot of disappointment. Online inspection services can be pricey though so we have come up with a better solution. A while back we asked our readers if any of them would be willing to inspect cars and we received an overwhelming response. It’s taken a while to figure out how to utilize all that information, but we are excited to announce that we now offer a way to get your finds inspected!

To get a car inspected all you need to do is to click on the State where it’s located and find the nearest inspector. You will need to contact them by phone or email to work out all the details. They should take a checklist along and snap a few photos so you can get a better idea of the car’s condition. Some have offered to look for free, but most will ask for some money to cover their travel expense and time. We are not going to tell people what they should charge or try to take a percentage, but access to view the inspector list is limited to Supporting Members only. Don’t worry though, everyone will always be able to read the site for free!

Please let us know what you think about this new feature in the comments below.


WANTED 1965 Oldsmobile Cutlass Convertible Looking for the rear seats or bare frames. Must be from a convertible which are smaller. Contact

WANTED 1949-1952 Dodge Club Coupe Must be in mint condition. Contact

WANTED 1974 AMC Gremlin Looking for decent condition preferably stick Contact

WANTED 1987 Dodge Charger Looking for a 1987 Dodge Shelby Charger GLHS Ready to buy now, serious buyer Contact

WANTED 1961 Chevrolet Biscayne Looking for a 1961 Biscayne in decent shape for an everyday driver. Will also consider Bel-Air Contact

Submit Your Want Ad


  1. Patrick Carso

    I thought this was Barn Finds, half of the site are clean, restored or fresh builds, why?

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Are we looking at the same site Patrick? Please feel free to send in your tips if you think you can find better:

      Like 1
  2. Russell Hawkins

    1967 Buick GS, 68,000 miles. Running and driveable.

    Like 1
  3. Kevin Wernick

    Good idea as long as you can trust the person doing the inspecting

  4. L.M.K. Member

    I like it…

  5. Fred W.

    I’m here every day- how did I miss the announcement looking for inspectors? I’ve been doing this for an online service for over 4 years.

    Like 1
  6. William C Farrar

    Im JAFO here, love the site BTW but this sounds like a great idea. I would be willing to help out a buyer. 20 year pro mechanic and avid car dude. Life long wrench turner.

  7. Doug Towsley

    Great Idea,,I have volunteered many times on specific vehicles in my area in the past. Ill work on signing up. I already do evals and verification’s as well as appraisals for vintage motorcycles. If you like, I can make up a checklist for typical inspections so standardized somewhat.
    I once called about a car and the wingnut selling it refused to use any useful descriptions. Everything was “Runs like a top! Clean as a whistle, Sweet ride” etc etc. No specifics like mileage, maint history, engine/trans specs etc.
    One mans junk is anothers treasure and often the reverse is true.

  8. Al Beavers

    Once in awhile I’ve been asked to assess a vehicle in my area, mainly from friends and acquaintances over the years. I take detailed pictures, especially where work is needed. Also try to get more information on the storyline of the vehicle. Then the buyer has a better idea of the value to him.

  9. wuzjeepnowsaab

    This is an awesome idea. Thanks BF for putting it together and thanks to the members for stepping up for the work! Another reason why Barn Finds is the 1st thing I read every day!

  10. Bobsmyuncle

    So you are going to monetize other people’s generosity? Essentially selling what others were offering for free.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Nope. I said a few people said they’d do it for free, but most want paid. We could have asked for a percentage of every inspection done, but decided it would be better to just let our Supporting Members see the list. Do some research and you’ll realize that even if you pay for a membership and send $100 to an inspector, it’s still cheaper than any of the online services.

    • William C Farrar

      Re-read the original article, BF said they would not take any fees for this service but the assessor might ask to recoup there travel expenses. Actually read the entire post before slamming ND. There trying to help.

    • Woodie Man

      Well Bobyeruncle……..come what Jesse posted………way off…..and a mite insulting to Jesse and the crew as they’ve proved their car guy bonafides…….

    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      I think I understand what Bobsmyuncle is trying to say.

      If you want to take advantage of this service (whether the inspector charges a fee or not), you have to become a paying member of Barn Finds.

      Am I correct, or will this service also be available to non-members?

      • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

        You are correct. We had planned to offer this as a paid service similar to other inspection services, but decided this was easier to implement and cheaper to the end user. We never asked anyone to do inspections for free and do not expect anyone to do so now. Our expenses have skyrocketed as the site has grown so this is one way to keep it online while still offering a useful service to our paying members.

      • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

        Thanks Jesse.

  11. Howard A Member

    Hmm, seems some owners of cars for sale have some sort of objection to an honest evaluation. They sure let me have it, and are still letting me have it. Good luck with this.

    • Doug Towsley

      Howard, 2 different topics. A objective First person inspection coupled with a standardized inspection form, coupled with pictures, an investigative background as well as extensive 1st hand experience, Marque knowledge, connection to clubs and other resources is one thing.

      ( I am a licensed FAA Air Frame and Powerplant inspector as well as certified in a wide range of NDT. I am also a licensed and certified instructor)

      But offering up opinions on a free online forum that might or might not be relevant to the topic is another thing entirely. Clearly Howard you do have a wide range of knowledge and experience in a wide variety of vehicles. Nobody doubts that (Or at least I dont think so) But sometimes your opinions are a little out there or off the mark. Pot/kettle right? I am guilty of this as well most certainly but I strongly differentiate my random stream of consciousness opinions on the daily postings vs what I would do professionally evaluating a vehicle for someone which I have done repeatedly over the years in a official capacity as well as on behalf of our local museum I volunteer at or the many vintage clubs I lend a hand to as well.
      I also used to work on investigations in public safety for a govt agency ANY Communication is accessible by the public or lawyers and only one FOIA request away from open scrutiny.
      My opinions I voice here are way different than what I would write in official reports or my work for those govt agencies and I worked from the federal level to regional.
      2 different animals altogether. Maybe a bit redundant but I think it is important to strongly define the difference before this inspection service gets off the ground and I would expect the list/forum/site owners to carefully consider that.
      Some people are prodigious litigants.

      • Howard A Member

        Thanks Doug, you can thank my old man, who was an opinionated blowhard, for some of my views and I try not to let that come thru, but the old man wasn’t all wrong, some people just don’t want to hear that. The old car hobby seems to have morphed into this greed fueled frenzy, possibly due to our economy, and FOR SOME, not all, it’s all about dollar signs, not the cars or the chance to have someone, who is “Joe ( or JoAnn) Lunchpail”, enjoy this hobby. The prices of cars that were beaters years ago, simply bamboozles me. Obviously, I’m out of the loop on values, but I do know, when one starts messing with peoples profits, like evaluating a car, that clearly, they are trying to make a buck on, trouble ensues. Maybe I’m being a bit over dramatic,( @2am) but I hope none of the inspectors ends up “gone missing”.

    • Toddjim

      Hey Howard, as a 35 year owner of an Automotive repair shop I’ve always told my customers #1 always have a used car inspected before purchasing #2 if the seller in any way balks at the inspection then stay away. They usually have something to hide. Now here we’re evaluating a car from 0 – 10 essentially and looking for reasons to purchase or stay away from. (no hidden surprises) A car can be photogenic but up close and personal it’s more of a hack job with an amateur resto. If a seller says “just surface rust” when in reality it’s more serious than that. It would be great to have some of that information before sending the seller some cash. If a seller hesitates to an inspection I’m not buying it.

  12. JaxPontiacs

    I wouldn’t put my trust in most anything on the internet.
    Guys on this site that have stepped up and offer to do these pre-inspections are in my opinion trust worthy. Sure some guys on this site might be jeggy but I would say most are just honest car guys willing to the rest of us a favor.
    To them & Barn Finds I say awesome idea and thank you.

  13. Irish Bill

    I can think of several thousand dollars this service would have saved me if I had the opportunity to use an inspection service. Kudos for making this available to the group .

  14. JCWJr

    I may or may not need this service. Either way I feel it is a great service to the hobby. Thank You for taking the time to put this together as a bonus of a already great site. You can’t please all the people all the time and you are easing most of the people most of the time . So keep it up.

  15. Moose Feather

    Two thoughts. I go a step further when buying a vehicle. If I’ve worked out a deal I include the condition that it must pass a safety inspection which for any older vehicle where I live is required anyway. I’ll pay for it if it passes. If it doesn’t pass the seller pays for it or we can renegotiate a price based on the inspection. I see it as a win/win. As a buyer you’d be telling me that you have confidence in what you’re selling me. The seller really has nothing to lose because if they have to fix anything they can now sell a vehicle with a passed safety inspection, so should arguably be able to get a better price for the vehicle. At a minimum you’d have a good selling point to the next person that comes along that you will be able to save them money on an inspection.

    Secondly, anyone who uses the service being proposed should be able to rate the appraiser if they buy the vehicle. Once the vehicle is received does it match the appraisal. This would give me more confidence in who I contract out.

    • Rspcharger Rspcharger

      @Moose Feather raises a very good point, there should be an appraiser rating system. Unfortunately this opens up a humongous can of worms I doubt Barn Finds is looking to deal with.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi Moose, while I agree a rating system is a good idea, “word of mouth” is still the best salesperson, but good luck trying to get some sellers to cough up anything for a sale. Some of the cars that come through here will NEVER pass an inspection, ( some states don’t require one, like Wis.) and I’d think that’s the last thing a seller would do, is pay for a failed inspection. The inspection is for the buyers peace of mind, not the sellers. I wouldn’t need an inspector, but, it would seem to me, if a car did fail an inspection, it was money well spent, so as to avoid a bigger problem the seller probably knows about.

  16. Pete

    I have purchased almost 100 cars for my self. Yeah I know it is a sickness. Twice I would have benefited from an inspection prior to me buying an out of state car before I bought it. I ended up paying a lawyer to get my money back. When I physically go look at a car before I buy it then I know pretty much exactly what I am getting warts and all. I have gone with a lot of people to look over cars before they bought them. Some I have successfully talked out of buying the one we looked at because the seller misrepresented the condition of the car and I found evidence to support that.

    I love the idea of a check list because I don’t know everything and can’t remember everything. I am a former CH-47 Chinook Mechanic, I have also worked on many other airframes and have been restoring cars since I was 12. In aviation we use check lists for everything when we do inspections.

    So having said all that. I would be happy to help fellow car guys and gals and look over a car before they bought it. I would even send better pics than the seller posted of questionable things or areas not covered in the ad. If it is local I would do it for free as in my town. But I am willing to drive 250 miles to check one out as long as I get compensated for the gas. So figure about $100 bucks. If you want to contact me or 704-618-0196 I am located in Fayetteville, NC 250 to 300 miles one way is not a problem for me to drive. As soon as my Fiance takes delivery of her New Dodge ram I can even pick up and deliver a car you purchased if it is a roller. I already have the car trailer. The cost of that depends on where and how far it has to go. BF if you will ad me to the list I will become a paying member after my first gig. :-) I love this site keep up the good work.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      We will get you added. Thanks Pete!

    • Pete

      Just found the link to add to the inspector link. Duh. LOL

  17. Woodie Man

    So….here’s my .12. I love the idea of pre purchase inspections. In order to avoid the inevitable disagreements and in some cases litigation, I’d like someone to put together a pre purchase inspection list that any of us on BF’s who is willing, could use to inspect cars for other BF’rs.

    Then someone like myself, willing to help out a BF’r.say with looking at a car within 100 miles of my location in San Diego, could use the form coupled with a signed release of liability from the potential buyer.

    I’m thinking more of a looksee form as there is no substitute for a shop going over the car from compression to frame.

    Just an idea………….

    • Doug Towsley

      Woodie man: *I LOVE* S.O.P’s because you always get predictable results consistently every time. In the military I ran checklists always when working in operations. All team members know what to expect and react appropriately.
      High Speed-Low Drag.
      There is a wide variety of preprinted inspection forms out there that rental car, Moving company’s, shippers and insurance companies all use. Good start and then riff off of that. Standardized Diagram to note body issues with numbered notes. Preliminary and secondary inspections with progressive detail in each.
      IE: General walk around, vs Compression test,Leakdown, Ignition function, Charging system, Test drive impressions, etc etc.
      The variables for Photo taking are widely disparate. I would be happy to suggest specific methodology for pictures. IE: Side shots, 3/4 shots, camera height, level of lighting. Number them so the inspector just follows the checklist.
      #NOTE# Harbor freight and Amazon are offering LED illuminated bore scopes now with recording capability. Several people on Motorcycle forums have bought them and posted video of engine and gearbox internals for diagnosis by the collective masses. Bit intrusive but invaluable tool me thinks.

  18. Toddjim

    Thank you Jesse! I am not a member yet but I agree with your policy to make this a members only service. This adds a certain amount of accountability to both sides of the aisle.

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