Vehicle inspections

Vehicle inspections

AA members save 10%

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AA Vehicle Inspections

It's not every day you buy a new car (or van, or motor home).

Outside of buying a home it's said to be one of the most complicated and stressful purchases there is - and up to a third of second-hand cars have significant faults hidden away. It may still be your dream car, but it's always better to know, isn't it?

Buying a used car is easier with a vehicle inspection. We save you the time and headache of checking the vehicle over yourself, and you could save thousands of pounds if it looks and sounds too good to be true.

Here's what you get for a great-value, fixed price:

  • a personal call and detailed report by email
  • all the information you need to help you get the best price
  • help to avoid costly surprises

Happy driving!

AA Vehicle Inspections are provided by Automobile Association Developments Limited. Registered office: Fanum House, Basing View, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21 4EA. Registered in England number 1878835.
The provision of AA Vehicle Inspections is subject to availability.
The AA trademark and logo are used under licence from AA Brand Management Limited. The AA is not responsible for any goods and services provided by third parties under licence.

What 's covered: overview

Know what to expect from an AA vehicle inspection

What do vehicle inspections look at?

Inspections are visual, external checks which are limited to the parts identified in the report checklist, as is relevant to each vehicle. As long as the vehicle you are buying is not older than 15 years old and is not imported from the USA, or listed under the types of vehicles we don’t inspect, we can book an inspection for it. Here's what the inspections cover:

  • body exterior*
  • engine compartment
  • electrical controls*
  • interior and luggage compartments*
  • front and rear suspension*
  • front and rear under frames*
  • steering
  • clutch
  • transmission
  • exhaust system
  • fuel system
  • brakes
  • wheels and tyres
  • road test of up to 5 or 10 miles (depending on the vehicle type, road conditions, traffic, fuel level and engineer's judgement)

*Limited checks and exclusions apply for basic, van and motor home inspections.

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What doesn't the vehicle inspections cover?

Vehicle inspections cover a wide scope of items, except for:

  • the inspector will not dismantle/ remove/ disconnect, take apart any item on the vehicle (as per clause 1 of the terms and conditions)
  • vehicle data checks
  • taking the vehicle or any of its components apart
  • how accurate the mileage reading may be (we recommend an AA Car Data Check is carried out)
  • oil and fuel consumption
  • sources of oil leaks
  • TV/DVD/satellite navigation/multimedia systems
  • cylinder compression
  • air-conditioning function and efficiency (using specific diagnostic equipment)
  • vehicle electrics and electronics (requiring the use of specific diagnostic equipment)
  • exhaust emissions and/or catalytic converters (requiring the use of gas analysing equipment)
  • habitation area of motor homes (electrical systems, water/gas fittings and associated appliances; body/caravan area for water ingress or dampness)

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What types of vehicle don't we inspect?

If the vehicle you're interested in buying is one of these, then we're not able to inspect it:

  • disability controls and modifications – although we can check the vehicle
  • any vehicle over 15 years old
  • commercial refrigeration units fitted to vehicles – although we can check the vehicle
  • body tipping equipment fitted to a vehicle
  • tail lifts fitted for any vehicle
  • horse boxes
  • American imports
  • kit cars
  • limousines
  • hybrid/dual-fuel vehicles
  • motorcycles
  • London taxis / Hackney carriages
  • vehicles over 3.5 tonnes or trolley jacks
  • specific high-performance vehicles (supercars or hypercars)

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What 's covered: detailed list

Here's a full list of what the inspectors will be checking for each type of vehicle inspection. The relevant checks carried out will form the basis of the Report Checklist.

Please note: not all of these checks apply to the specific vehicle you are buying as the relevant parts may not be present/ fitted/ visible on certain vehicles and in all circumstances.

Body exterior Comprehensive Basic Van Motor home 4x4
Panel condition/alignment yes no no yes yes
Paintwork yes no no yes yes
Exterior trim yes no no yes yes
Glass yes yes yes yes yes
Bumpers and number plates yes no no yes yes
Door locks yes yes yes yes yes
Fuel filler cover/cap yes yes yes yes yes
Soft top operation yes no no no yes
Body damage yes yes yes yes yes
Corrosion yes yes yes yes yes
Corrosion protection yes no no yes yes
Mud flaps yes yes yes yes yes
Bonnet catch yes yes yes yes yes
Bonnet hinges yes yes yes yes yes
Body load space condition no no yes no yes
Engine compartment Comprehensive Basic Van Motor home 4x4
Coolant level/condition yes yes yes yes yes
Coolant leaks yes yes yes yes yes
Anti freeze yes yes yes yes yes
Radiator/cap yes yes yes yes yes
Hoses/pipes yes yes yes yes yes
Drive belts yes yes yes yes yes
Water pump yes yes yes yes yes
Power steering (oil level) yes yes yes yes yes
Clutch fluid yes yes yes yes yes
Brake fluid yes yes yes yes yes
Engine oil level yes yes yes yes yes
External leaks (Upper engine) yes yes yes yes yes
Engine mountings yes yes yes yes yes
Carburettor/fuel injection yes yes yes yes yes
Turbo/supercharger yes yes yes yes yes
Fuel pump/pipes yes yes yes yes yes
Accelerator links yes yes yes yes yes
Cold starting yes yes yes yes yes
Fast idle (cold) yes yes yes yes yes
Noise level (cold) yes yes yes yes yes
Excess fumes/smoke yes yes yes yes yes
Electrical controls Comprehensive Basic Van Motor home 4x4
Starting systems/ignition lock yes yes yes yes yes
Battery condition yes yes yes yes yes
Battery voltages yes yes yes yes yes
Headlights yes yes yes yes yes
Sidelights yes yes yes yes yes
Rear lights yes yes yes yes yes
Stop lights yes yes yes yes yes
Indicators/hazard lights yes yes yes yes yes
Reverse/fog lights yes yes yes yes yes
Auxiliary lights yes yes yes yes yes
Interior/panel lights yes yes yes yes yes
Mirrors (electric) yes yes yes yes yes
Controls/switches yes yes yes yes yes
Instruments yes yes yes yes yes
Horn yes yes yes yes yes
Radio aerial yes no no yes yes
Heater/fan controls yes no no yes yes
Air con operation yes no no yes yes
Windows/sun roof yes yes yes yes yes
Wipers/washers yes yes yes yes yes
Headlamp wash/wipe yes yes yes yes yes
Interior/luggage compartment Comprehensive Basic Van Motor home 4x4
Steering wheel alignment/Adjustment yes no no yes yes
Seat upholstery yes no no yes yes
Seat adjustment yes yes yes yes yes
Seat belts yes yes yes yes yes
Carpets yes no no yes yes
Door trims panels yes no no yes yes
Door fittings/operations yes no no yes yes
Door seals/hinges yes no no yes yes
Interior sills yes no no yes yes
Headlining/visors yes no no yes yes
Sun roof yes no no yes yes
Dash panel (condition) yes no no yes yes
Cigarette lighter yes no no yes yes
Mirrors (internal) yes yes yes no yes
Rear parcel shelf yes yes yes no yes
Boot/tailgate lock yes yes yes no yes
Luggage area trim condition yes no no no yes
Illumination light yes no no yes yes
Tool kit yes no no yes yes
Soft top (condition) yes no no no yes
Tonneau cover yes no no no yes
Front suspension/steering/under-frame Comprehensive Basic Van Motor home 4x4
Engine underside leakage yes yes yes yes yes
Steering joints/ball joints yes yes yes yes yes
Steering box/rack yes yes yes yes yes
Chassis members yes yes yes yes yes
Power steering (operation) yes yes yes yes yes
Wheel hubs/bearings yes yes yes yes yes
Springs/suspension units yes yes yes yes yes
Pipes/hoses yes yes yes yes yes
Dampers (condition/leaks) yes yes yes yes yes
Gaiters yes yes yes yes yes
Sub frames mountings yes yes yes yes yes
Suspension arms/mounts yes yes yes yes yes
Tie bars/anti roll bars yes yes yes yes yes
Corrosion protection yes no no yes yes
Corrosion-floor/chassis yes yes yes yes yes
Rear suspension/under-frame Comprehensive Basic Van Motor home 4x4
Springs/suspension bars yes yes yes yes yes
Anti-roll bar yes yes yes yes yes
Dampers/bushes yes yes yes yes yes
Suspension arms/fixings yes yes yes yes yes
Location rods/fixings yes yes yes yes yes
Bump stops/gaiters yes yes yes yes yes
Wheel hubs/bearings yes yes yes yes yes
Pipes/hoses yes yes yes yes yes
Sub frames/mountings yes yes yes yes yes
Chassis members yes yes yes yes yes
Corrosion protection yes no no yes yes
Corrosion-floor/chassis yes yes yes yes yes
Clutch/transmission Comprehensive Basic Van Motor home 4x4
Fluid/oil leaks yes yes yes yes yes
Cables/adjustments yes yes yes yes yes
Hydraulic system yes yes yes yes yes
Linkage (wear) yes yes yes yes yes
Casings yes yes yes yes yes
Mountings yes yes yes yes yes
Drive shaft assembly yes yes yes yes yes
Universal/sliding joints yes yes yes yes yes
Backlash yes yes yes yes yes
Gaiters yes yes yes yes yes
Prop shaft(s) yes yes yes yes yes
Bearings/supports yes yes yes yes yes
Four-wheel drive transmission no no no no yes
Exhaust system Comprehensive Basic Van Motor home 4x4
Manifold yes yes yes yes yes
Pipes yes yes yes yes yes
Silencer(s) catalyst yes yes yes yes yes
Heat shields/mountings yes yes yes yes yes
Joints/couplings yes yes yes yes yes
System condition yes yes yes yes yes
Fuel system Comprehensive Basic Van Motor home 4x4
Tank yes yes yes yes yes
Tank fixings yes yes yes yes yes
Fuel lines yes yes yes yes yes
Breather pipes yes yes yes yes yes
Evidence of leaks yes yes yes yes yes
Brakes Comprehensive Basic Van Motor home 4x4
Master cylinder security yes yes yes yes yes
Fluid leaks yes yes yes yes yes
Servo/power system yes yes yes yes yes
Flexible hoses yes yes yes yes yes
Pipes/connections yes yes yes yes yes
Discs/pads (if visible) yes yes yes yes yes
H/brake/operation adjustment yes yes yes yes yes
H/brake linkage yes yes yes yes yes
Pedal/linkage yes yes yes yes yes
Wheels and tyres Comprehensive Basic Van Motor home 4x4
Wheel rims yes yes yes yes yes
Wheel trims yes yes yes yes yes
Right front tyre yes yes yes yes yes
Left front tyre yes yes yes yes yes
Right rear tyre yes yes yes yes yes
Left rear tyre yes yes yes yes yes
Spare tyre yes yes yes yes yes
Road test Comprehensive Basic Van Motor home 4x4
Distance covered, where possible Up to 10 miles Up to 5 miles Up to 5 miles Up to 10 miles Up to 10 miles
Final drive operation/noise yes yes yes yes yes
Gearbox operation/noise yes yes yes yes yes
Engine performance yes yes yes yes yes
Engine noise yes yes yes yes yes
Excess smoke yes yes yes yes yes
Overheating evidence yes yes yes yes yes
Auto changes/kick down yes yes yes yes yes
Instruments/controls operation yes yes yes yes yes
Steering wheel alignment yes yes yes yes yes
Clutch operation yes yes yes yes yes
4WD operation yes no yes yes yes
Cooling fan operation yes yes yes yes yes
Steering effort yes yes yes yes yes
Hot restart yes yes yes yes yes
Road holding/stability yes yes yes yes yes
General steering/handling yes yes yes yes yes
Foot brake operation yes yes yes yes yes
H/brake operation yes yes yes yes yes
Suspension noise yes yes yes yes yes
Warning lights yes yes yes yes yes
Final check Comprehensive Basic Van Motor home 4x4
Uneven tyre wear yes yes yes yes yes
Oil leaks yes yes yes yes yes
Coolant leaks yes yes yes yes yes

Before you book: what you need to do, and what to ask the seller

Tell the seller...

  • that you’re arranging an inspection, and get their permission to have it performed
  • that the inspection includes a road test – make sure the vehicle's available

Ask the seller if the vehicle...

  • has an MOT certificate (if applicable)
  • has got enough oil, water and fuel for the road test
  • is on an off-road location on a hard, level surface
  • is reasonably clean

The inspector can refuse to inspect otherwise, so it’s important the vehicle is set up ready for them.

If the inspector refuses/is unable to carry out any element of the inspection based on the above arrangements not being made, the fee shall remain fully payable and any subsequent road test you ask us to undertake shall be charged at an additional fee.

Any other questions?

Here are a few extra things you need to know about booking your inspection: where we can carry them out, any additional charges you might have to pay, the engineers, and the inspection itself.

Where inspections are available

Inspections can be carried out on the Great Britain mainland only. We don’t cover Northern Ireland, some parts of Scotland and Wales, or any of the islands.

Paying congestion charges

The engineer can enter a charging zone to carry out an inspection, but it’s your responsibility to pay any congestion charges - both for the vehicle being inspected, and for the engineer's vehicle.

The engineers: when they work, and getting in touch

The AA-approved engineers work Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5pm – they're not available to do out-of-hours inspections,

When you've had your vehicle inspection booked, you'll be emailed the engineer's contact details in case you need to get in touch.

About booking your vehicle inspection appointment

  • We aim to get a vehicle inspection booked and carried out within 3-4 working days
  • You won’t be able to book a specific time – that depends on the vehicle’s seller
  • You don’t need to be present at the inspection

How long the inspection will take

Vehicle inspections generally take between one hour to two and a half hours, depending on:

  • the inspection and vehicle type
  • where the vehicle is located
AA members: save 10%

AA member? Save 10% on your inspection

If you hold another AA product, (like breakdown cover or insurance) you should have an AA membership card. This gives you 10% off your vehicle inspection.

Need to speak to our Vehicle Inspections team? Call us on 0800 056 8040.

Our cancellation policy: how to cancel, fees and refunds

Need to cancel?

Call the Vehicle Inspections team as soon as possible on 0800 056 8040. We are available Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm. or email us on VIAdministration@TheAA.com

Cancellation fees

You have 14 days to change your mind and get a full refund. However, where you have asked for the inspection to take place within the 14 day period, or if you request cancellation after the 14 days, the following apply:

  • If you cancel by 2pm on the day before the inspection is due to take place, a cancellation fee of £20 (inc VAT) will be charged; or
  • If you cancel after 2pm on the day before the inspection is due to take place, it's £76 (inc VAT)

The relevant fee will be taken out of what you've already paid.

  • If you change your mind and cancel when the inspection is completed (whether or not a report has been issued), there's no refund.

(That also applies if you've given us incorrect or incomplete information that stops the engineer from carrying out the inspection.)

Why might we refuse to inspect or issue a report?

In certain circumstances we are entitled to refuse to inspect a vehicle or to issue a report.

For example, if our inspector can’t get reasonable access to the vehicle to carry out the inspection, or if the vehicle doesn't have an MOT, or doesn’t appear to be of standard production (it may be a kit car or been modified in a certain way) or to be roadworthy, or if you have given us incorrect or incomplete information which means that the inspector is prevented from carrying out the inspection.

The inspection fee remains fully payable in such circumstances. We'll let you know if that's the case.

The information on cancellation and inspection refusal above is a summary of what's in our Terms and Conditions. See in particular clause '12.Fees and cancellations.'

Terms and conditions

It’s important that you read and understand the terms and conditions. These detail exactly what is and is not covered by the inspection, your rights and responsibilities, and more.

AA Vehicle Inspections Terms and Conditions


AA Vehicle Inspections are provided by Automobile Association Developments Limited. Registered office: Fanum House, Basing View, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21 4EA. Registered in England number 1878835.
The provision of AA Vehicle Inspections is subject to availability.
The AA trademark and logo are used under licence from AA Brand Management Limited. The AA is not responsible for any goods and services provided by third parties under licence.