Advice from Intellichoice: IntelliChoice Vehicle Inspection List Standards

One aspect of the vehicle certification process is an inspection list, which is set forth by the manufacturer. You should ask for a copy of this inspection checklist for the vehicle you’re interested in. The programs that meet our guidelines based on the standardized list below will be indicated by a 100% Inspection Score on the program details page for each brand.

IntelliChoice Vehicle Inspection List Standards

VIN Inspection
  • VIN matches other VINs on vehicle and paperwork/proper attachment (original/no alterations)
  • Vehicle has required state decals (emissions, inspection, etc.)
  • Service bulletins and recall updates performed on vehicle
  • Check vehicle for trouble codes
  • Oil change/scheduled maintenance performed

Road Test
  • Starting cold/hot
  • Engine idle quality
  • Engine performance/smooth acceleration
  • Engine noise (cold/hot and high/low speeds)
  • Automatic transmission/transaxle noise (cold/hot)
  • Automatic transmission shift points/slippage (operational/smooth/proper shift points/check at all shift points)
  • Shift interlock (operation)
  • Drive axle and transfer case bearings or gear noise/vibration (adjust or replace)
  • Transfer case (proper switch between 2WD and 4WD)
  • Clutch operation (smooth engagement/slippage/chatter)
  • Steering/rack and pinion/steering linkage performance (steering wheel free play/center steering/response/smoothness)
  • Brakes/ABS (effectiveness/operation/noise/no pulling or pulsating)
  • Note: ABS may pulsate under hard application, which indicates proper operation.
  • Cruise control operation (including resume)
  • Gauge/speedometer/tachometer/odometer (operation)
  • Body/suspension (performance/noise/rough road test)

Body Exterior

  • Frame inspection (check for repairs, damage, abnormal tire wear, inability to obtain proper alignment specifications)
  • Note: Overall vehicle inspection should take place at this point for rust and damage due to natural disaster. Look under carpet in trunk, interior and under dash for flood damage.
  • Body panels (check for damage, dings, dents, alignment, mismatched paint and overall paint condition)
  • Bumpers/fascia (check for damage, alignment and improper repairs)
  • Note: Slightly mismatched paint is fairly common on some vehicles with plastic bumpers.
  • Doors/hood/trunk/tailgate (check release mechanisms manual/automatic, hinges, alignment and proper attaching devices)
  • Note: Bolts and overspray are indications of damage repairs.
  • Grille/trim/molding/roof rack (check for bends, dings, parts missing and proper attachment)

Glass/Mirror/Wiper & Washer Condition
  • Windshield (damaged, pitted, repaired, wiper marks, cracked)
  • Side/rear windows (damaged, pitted, repaired, cracked)
  • Mirrors (condition of mirror, hinge, operation)
  • Wipers (condition of mechanism/blade)
  • Wipers (operation/speeds/delay)
  • Washer (fluid level/spray pattern)

Exterior Lights
  • Head lights, high/low beams (alignment/lens condition/operation)
  • Tail lights (lens condition/operation)
  • Brake lights/high mount brake light (lens condition/operation)
  • Parking lights (lens condition/operation)
  • Hazard lights (lens condition/operation)
  • Reverse lights (lens condition/operation)
  • Turn signal/side marker lights (lens condition/operation)
  • License plate lights (lens condition/operation)
  • Fog/driving lights (lens condition/operation)


Air Bag/Seat Belts
  • Seat belts (condition/operation)
  • Air bag (exterior condition/intact/no codes/dash light operation)
  • Note: When inspecting the air bag system, look carefully at the steering wheel for abnormal wear (could indicate vehicle has been repaired and a used steering wheel and air bag have been installed).

Audio/Alarm Systems
  • Radio, satellite radio, cassette, CD, speakers (condition/operation)
  • Antenna (condition/operation)
  • Navigation system (operation)
  • Alarm/theft deterrent system (condition/operation)

  • Air conditioning system/climate control system (condition/operation/charge via sight glass)
  • Air cabin filter (condition/change per maintenance schedule)
  • Heating system/climate control system (condition/operation)
  • Defogger/defroster (operation)

Interior Amenities
  • Clock (condition/operation)
  • Horn (condition/operation)
  • Lighter/power outlet(s) (condition/operation)
  • Ashtray (condition/operation)
  • Glove box/glove box light/center armrest/console (condition/operation)
  • Tilt/telescopic steering wheel (operation)
  • Steering wheel lock (operation)
  • Mirrors/rear view (condition/operation/memory function)
  • Instrument panel/lights & warning lights (condition/operation/bulb check)
  • Warning chimes (operation)
  • Interior courtesy/dome/map lights (operation)
  • Fuel filler door release (operation)
  • Interior door handles (operation)

Interior Trim/Carpet/Floor Mats
  • Carpet (condition/appearance)
  • Floor mats (condition/appearance)
  • Door trim/panels (condition/appearance/attachment)
  • Headliner (condition/appearance)
  • Sun visors (condition/appearance/vanity mirror & light)

Luggage Compartment/Trunk/Truck Bed
  • Luggage compartment mat/trim/carpet/cargo net (condition)
  • Luggage compartment light (operation)
  • Jack/tools (condition)

  • Seat upholstery (condition/worn/ripped/cracked/faded)
  • Seat/headrest adjustments (manual/automatic/memory operation)
  • Heated seat (operation)

Sunroof/Moonroof/Convertible Top
  • Sunroof/moonroof (condition/operation)
  • Convertible top (condition/operation/rear window & zipper operation)
  • Convertible top boot (condition)

Window/Door Lock Operation
  • Door locks/controls (manual/automatic operation)
  • Child safety locks (operation)
  • Windows/controls (manual/automatic operation, locks)


Engine Mechanical Condition
  • Fluid leakages (record where and what is leaking)
  • Oil in air cleaner (can indicate excessive blow-by or faulty PCV system)
  • Water in oil (check underside of oil filler cap)
  • Inspect timing belt (condition/change per maintenance schedule)
  • Fluids (condition/levels)
  • Belts (condition)
  • Hoses (condition)
  • Wiring (condition)
  • Engine mounts (condition)

Cooling System
  • Hoses (condition)
  • Coolant (condition/level/leaks/freeze point/voltage/corrosion)
  • Radiator (condition/pressure check/tube/fins)
  • Cooling fan/fan clutch/fan motor (condition/operation/auxiliary fan operation)
  • Water pump (noise/leaks)
  • Pressure test cap/system
  • Recovery tank (condition/fluid level/sensor operation)
  • Belts (condition/cracks/glazed/frayed/proper adjustment)

Fuel System
  • Fuel pump noise/external fuel pump leakage
  • Fuel lines/hoses/pressure (leaks/record reading)
  • Fuel filter (condition/replace per maintenance schedule)
  • Air filter (condition/replace per maintenance schedule)

Electrical System
  • Starter operation (record starter draw/amperage)
  • Alternator/charging (record regulated voltage/maximum amperage output)
  • Ignition system (operation/scope)
  • Battery (condition/fluid/level/load test/record readings)
  • Check pre-glow system (diesel)

Exhaust System
  • Entire exhaust system (condition/leaks/damage/noise)
  • Catalytic converter and shielding
  • Perform emission control tests and record readings

  • Transmission system (condition)
  • Automatic transmission/transaxle fluids (condition/level/leaks/fill or change oil and filters)
  • Manual transmission/drive axle/transfer case fluids (condition/level/leaks/fill or change oil)
  • Transmission mounts (condition/cracked/oil-soaked/broken/replace worn mounts)
  • Universal joints/CV joints/boots (condition)
  • Differential/drive axles (condition/leaks/damage)
  • Clutch (adjustment/fluid level)

Hybrid System
  • Inverter coolant (check level and condition)
  • Hybrid battery (inspect air intake)
  • Hybrid electronics control unit (run diagnostic)
  • Auxiliary battery (perform charge test)
  • Multi-information display (operation)
  • Perform diagnostic scan (check for codes and software updates)

Tires and Wheels
  • Correct size
  • Tread depth (3 readings per tire)
  • Condition/abnormal wear (sidewalls/alignment problems)
  • Pressure (record reading for each tire)
  • All tires match
  • Spare tire (condition/inspected same as other tires)
  • Wheel (condition/runout/curb damage/finish)

  • Fluid (condition/level/leaks/top off as necessary)
  • Rack and pinion/steering linkage (condition/leaks/boots)
  • Power steering pump and hoses (leaks/noise/operation)
  • Suspension system/control arms/ball joints/bushings (condition)
  • Tie rods and idler arm (operational to factory specifications)
  • Sway bars/links/bushings (operational to factory specifications)
  • Springs (vehicle ride height/check for spring sag)
  • Struts/shocks (leakage/bounce test)

  • Calipers/cylinders (operation/condition/leaks)
  • Brake fluid (level/condition/top off as necessary)
  • Pads/shoes (condition/wear/percent remaining/replace linings if necessary)
  • Rotors/drums (condition/wear/resurface or replace as required/measure and record readings)
  • Brake system lines/hydraulics/hoses/fittings (condition/wear/leaks)
  • Parking brake (operation/adjustment/condition)
  • Master cylinder and booster (operational/leaks)