Inspection/Certification Program FAQs

1. Which Vehicles Qualify for Certification?
2. How Does the Inspection Work?
3. What is Included in the Inspection?
4. Who Does the Inspection?
5. How Do I Schedule an Inspection?
6. How Long Does the Inspection Take?
7. What Happens After the Inspection?
8. How much does it cost?
9. Do I need to bring the vehicle in to a partner facility for the inspection/certification?
10. How Soon Will I Know if My Vehicle Passed the Inspection?
11. What if the Vehicle Fails the Inspection?
12. Do I get a refund if my car fails the NVCP inspection?
13. Do many vehicles fail the Fluid Analysis?
14. May I see a sample report?
15. I was thinking of having a pre-purchase inspection done. Your certification costs more money. Why should I spend more, and what’s the difference between a pre-purchase inspection and the NVCP Certification?

All vehicles, regardless of age or mileage, qualify for the NVCP Certification Program, provided they meet certain preliminary guidelines. Guidelines which will result in disqualification are “Brands,” or a “Branded Title.” A "Branded Title" is a passenger motor vehicle ownership or registration document issued by any of the 50 states of the U.S. (or the District of Columbia) or a passenger motor vehicle registration document issued by any province of Canada which was issued with words or symbols signifying that the vehicle was: junked or salvaged; dismantled, rebuilt or reconstructed; flood damaged; fire damaged; hail damaged; bought back by its manufacturer ("Lemon Law" vehicle); odometer exceeds mechanical limits; odometer was not actual mileage; or which was issued with any other symbol or word signifying a similar Brand.

Specifically excluded from the definition of "Branded Title" for the purposes of this Guarantee are: titles originally issued without a Brand but later stamped with a Brand without being reissued; salvage titles issued due to theft; damage disclosure documents and Branded Titles issued in error and later corrected.

Authorized Inspectors come to your home or place of business to perform the inspection (mobile inspection). Alternatively, you may take your vehicle to one of our partners for inspection. Please see the Partners List for additional information.

We currently offer three choices: Premium Inspection, Silver Certification, and Gold Certification. The components of the various programs are outlined below.
    Premium Inspection

    The inspector will do a thorough visual inspection (including under the hood) looking for any unusual indications of potential problems. He will inspect the interior of your vehicle as well, and check all controls and gauges for proper function. He will start and run the vehicle, and may perform a test drive. He will also take pictures of both the interior and exterior of your vehicle from many angles. These photos will be suitable for display on any website on which you’d like to promote your vehicle for sale. These photographs will also serve to depict accurately the condition of your vehicle for those prospects that may not be able physically to inspect the vehicle before purchase (out-of-state Internet sales, for example). More information

    Silver Certification

    In addition to the above, your inspector will pull two fluid samples from your vehicle (one engine oil and one drive transmission), and have them tested with our state-of-the-art Fluid Analyzers. We will perform a battery of tests including Infrared Spectroscopy and Emission Spectroscopy. By Infrared Spectroscopy, we monitor the physical properties (oil serviceability) of the oil including the presence of water, fuel, and coolant; as well as oxidation, nitration (gasoline engines), soot (diesel engines), Total Base Number (diesel engines), and Viscosity. Emission Spectroscopic testing identifies wear metals. These wear metals are microscopic particles generated by the moving parts of the engine. (See our fact sheet on Scientific Fluid Analysis for more details.) In addition, the Silver Inspection includes a 3-month or 3,000-mile warranty on the engine and transmission. (Please see the Warranty Document for further details.) More information

    Gold Certification

    Our most complete package, the Gold Certification includes everything in the Silver Certification and much more. The Gold inspection is done in an authorized facility near you by one of our inspection partners. Your vehicle is placed on a lift and inspected from every angle (including underneath), the wheels are removed for an in-depth brake system check, and a number of other systems and components are inspected as well. Currently we have over 275 separate inspection points. To our knowledge, this is the most thorough inspection/certification process available on the market today. The Gold package also includes a 3-month or 3,000-mile warranty on the engine and transmission. (Please see the Warranty Document for further details.) More information

Program inspections are performed by qualified experienced mechanics who are specially trained to perform these inspections. Most are ASE Certified and have many years of experience in diagnosing and repairing today’s vehicles. Premium Inspection and Silver Certification inspections can be performed either at your location or by one of our inspection partners. Due to their rigorous nature, Gold Certification inspections can only be performed at an authorized facility near you.

Simply place your order. If you choose a mobile inspection, an inspector will contact you (normally within 48 hours) to schedule the inspection. If you would like to bring your vehicle to an authorized inspection facility, simply schedule the inspection online and print the voucher. It’s that simple.

Depending on the program that you choose, an average inspection should take between 20 minutes to well over an hour to complete.

Your Inspector will submit the fluid samples for analysis. The samples may be analyzed on the spot in the case of a local partner facility, or sent to our facility in Texas for testing. The volume of inspections performed in your region, as well as the availability of partnership facilities in your area will help to determine where your samples will be tested.

Premium Inspection (mobile) costs $109, ($99 in-store) a Silver Certification (mobile) is $299, ($249 in-store) and a Gold Certification is $349. Silver and Gold Certifications include a CARFAX Vehicle History Report™ at no additional charge.

That depends. We offer both the Premium Inspection and Silver Certification as mobile or in-store services. Gold Certification is in-store only. If we do not have a partner facility within 15 miles of you, you will receive the in-store price should you choose a Silver Certification. (Sorry, we cannot offer a discount on our mobile Premium Inspection service at this time.)

This will depend, in part, on whether we test your fluid samples locally or at our Texas facility. Either way, you should expect to have the results within 24 to 48 hours.

If we determine through Fluid Analysis that there may be a major problem now or in the near future, there are three possible courses of action.. In many cases, something as simple as an oil and filter change or transmission fluid change may solve the problem. Other times, the vehicle may require more extensive repairs. If you choose to perform the needed repairs, your vehicle may then be certified. If your vehicle requires repairs beyond what you are willing to perform, your vehicle will be ineligible for certification.

A vehicle certification inspection is much like a check-up at your doctor’s office. You may go in for a routine exam, and be given a clean bill of health. Sometimes, you might go in for a check-up only to find that you have an illness that requires treatment. In either case, the doctor did his job and you must pay the doctor for the visit. An NVCP inspection is much the same except that you will receive a partial refund from NVCP if your vehicle fails the fluid analysis and you elect not to perform the required repairs. Because we do not have to provide a warranty for your engine and transmission, we are able to refund you $125. See our Refund Policy for details.

Roughly 6 – 8% of vehicles tested fail. Of these, about half will be simply too expensive to fix.

Click here to view a sample report. (Link opens in new window.)

A pre-purchase inspection is a very good idea. It just doesn’t go far enough to protect you when considering the purchase of a pre-owned vehicle.

A quality certification will provide information on the history of the vehicle, a thorough look at its present condition, an idea of what to expect in the future, and protection against the unexpected.

A pre-purchase inspection will only help you find existing problems with the car (or some of the problems, anyway). Depending on the inspector or inspection company, you could get anything from a walk-around-the-car-with-a-clipboard inspection, to a more in depth examination.

What you won’t get with an inspection is a warranty, fluid analysis of the engine oil and transmission fluid, any reconditioning or repair work, or a truly in-depth analysis of the vehicle’s condition. You are not likely to receive a CARFAX Vehicle History Report™, nor will your vehicle be listed as NVCP Certified in that CARFAX report. You probably won’t have a permanent copy of the certification/inspection documents available to you online 24/7, either. Compare for yourself our inspection vs. anyone else’s. Here’s an actual NVCP Certified report.

You’re investing thousands (or even tens of thousands) of dollars. Is it wise to get a less thorough opinion of your potential investment just to try to save a hundred or two? You’ll likely pay more than that for your first repair—and surely will if there’s a major problem lurking. Why cut corners on the second largest purchase most folks ever make?

Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. Get the best inspection/certification you can get, and make sure it’s backed up by a warranty and a national firm you can trust.