Comprehensive used vehicle inspections in Portland OR

eLemonators Used Car Inspections

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On site service is mandatory for proper inspections so that you have the advantage of a cold start. Convincing a seller to allow the car to be left at a service garage over night to let the engine cool down might not be an option. eLemonators prefer to go on location not only for convenience to all parties involved but primarily to get a cold start on the vehicle.  This enables us to determine whether the car has overheated, run low on oil, or has been driven aggressively. Smoke out the tail pipe, engine noises, difficult starting, and cold transmission behavior can all be signs that the car has serious problems. These symptoms are usually only noticeable on a cold start and can be linked to poor maintenance or torturous driving conditions. Wrist pin, connecting rods, piston slap, worn camshaft, lifters, and several other audible anomalies are sure symptoms of abuse or a worn out engine. Visible smoke at the tail pipe, delayed or harsh transmission shifting, starter problems choke or cold start circuits, belt noise and countless other issues all manifest themselves within a very short period of time during or immediately after startup.  The cold start should be part of all inspections but in the real world it is not always possible. We can still test a car if needed without a cold start but it is to your advantage if it can be done. Most of the time cold start symptoms do not exist but vehicles with less than 10,000 miles have failed our testing.


(1) We start with free counseling and a review of information gathered by used car buyers about a potential purchase, (call us for guidance to see if the car is acceptable enough to be eligible for a thorough inspection). Fill out a copy for each vehicle you look at so you can easily compare all cars at one time. Book values for the car in question are determined and a decision is made whether or not to proceed with an inspection.

(2) A mobile technician and computerized, diagnostic equipped van is dispatched to the location of the vehicle to be tested.

(3) An A.S.E. Master Certified technician first inspects the car for dangerous structural damage and other obvious signs that would render the car unsuitable for purchase including poor maintenance history. If major defects are apparent, the inspection can be halted upon customer request. A minimum fee is charged only if the inspection is halted in the earliest stages of the inspection.

(4) If the initial-survey is acceptable, the car is taken for an extended road test to determine drivability or handling problems. At this time clutch and transmission problems are checked, and drive train or chassis noises are noted. Handling, steering, braking, performance are checked and the vehicle is brought to full operating temperature. All accessories are also tested to ensure proper function.

(5) A visual inspection is performed that includes signs of maintenance abuse, fluid leakage, body damage and rust, the condition of interior, lighting systems, tires, wiring, belts & hoses, steering components, suspension, chassis and the exterior paint and trim. If disc brakes are visible, we will note approximate condition but we do not perform a brake inspection.

(6) The engine and computerized engine controls are tested by equipment considered the most advanced and comprehensive available, so even the slightest malfunction is easily detected. A gas analyzer is used to test emissions, find poor fuel efficiency, leaky exhaust systems and can accurately detect cracked blocks or head gaskets failure. Mechanical checks of relative compression or cylinder leakage are done to confirm poor scope readings if necessary.

  1. (7)Finally, our customers are informed about existing or potential trouble areas which includes an e-mailed , computer generated report of the inspection with pictures of damaged areas and notes about what service work needs to be performed.  Book values are discussed and maintenance procedures are recommended. You can find book values at or at Book values should be acquired before the inspection. If you have questions about book values or vehicle history reports please feel free to call us. DO NOT RELY ON A CARFAX REPORT! Many of the cars that we test with clean carfax reports have sustained some degree of damage. Even certified used cars can be seriously damaged. It might interest you to know that the Oregon DMV unwittingly hired an employee that managed to wash totaled vehicle titles for an extended period of time to help partners in crime. Only an experienced, trained eye can spot much of this damage.

eLemonators Used Car Inspection reports are generated on an iPad which includes pictures as seen below; then sent to you via e-mail as PDF or HTML files whichever you prefer. The report can also be printed on site if requested. Pictures include close up views of existing and previous damage, fluid leaks, VIN & license plates and other notable visual items.

Buy Used Cars With Confidence

“eLemonators Certified On-Site Inspections”

Portland’s most Qualified and Trusted inspection service


Dave Bernard, owner of eLemonators Used Car Inspections is one of very few vehicle inspectors in the country

That has an AAS degree in both Auto Tech and Auto body and an ASE Master certification. With years of hands on experience and a thorough knowledge of both mechanical and structural body and frame components of todays sophisticated automobiles in combination with these mandatory qualifications and over 20 year experience in this field alone, you could not make a better choice for a qualified used car inspector. We promise that! “eLemonating cars since 1991”


How we check for head gasket problems

The movie to the right illustrates how we use a gas analyzer to test for this serious problem. We have been exclusively using this test on a mobile basis since we opened in 1991. If this machine is down, we will not do inspections until it is operational. It is the most accurate test by far for finding failed head gaskets, cracked blocks and cracked heads. Many auto technicians have been grateful to us for learning about this test after watching us perform it. It is now being used in shops more routinely.