May 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

People are just so busy,” says Michelle Fouraker, cofounder of ProTech Xpress. “If you find a car on Craigslist during your break at work, it’s not like there’s a bunch of them sitting on a lot. There’s one. Call us up, we’re there, we’ll go.” Michelle, along with her husband, Jon, launched the vehicle inspection service in Omaha last September.

Drawing on his 25 years of experience as an automotive technician and used-car inspector, Jon takes his knowledge on the road, inspecting used cars on behalf of prospective buyers.

“It’s something that’s been in the back of my mind for some time,” Jon says of the business. “You know, when I worked for dealerships, they didn’t always fix everything that needed to be fixed. They did it out of economics,” he explains. “You can’t afford to fix everything that needs fixed on a car. So I’m kind of out there fighting for the guy with his hard-earned money. I don’t want him to get ripped off.”

Prospective buyers can request an inspection by visiting protechxpress.com, where they can e-mail or call with a car’s information. If neither Michelle nor Jon picks up the phone right away, they’ll get back to a caller within the day, usually within a few hours. The inspection itself takes an hour.

“We’re going out to the car for you,” Michelle clarifies. “You don’t have to be there; we can e-mail you the report. We’re not trying to sell you parts, we’re not selling you repair service, we’re not going to recommend anybody to you. This is our 100-percent-unbiased opinion of the car.”

“We’re not trying to sell you parts, we’re not selling you repair service, we’re not going to recommend anybody to you. This is our 100-percent-unbiased opinion of the car.” – Michelle Fouraker, co-founder

After he receives a request for an inspection, Jon contacts the car’s owner and sets up an appointment to inspect the vehicle. Following the inspection, he doesn’t show the owner his report, however—that’s for the prospective buyer’s eyes only. For the most part, he just presents the facts of his findings. It’s not about advising someone to buy or not to buy.

If he finds something seriously wrong with the car right away, Jon will call the prospective buyer to let them know. “I’ll ask if they want me to finish the inspection,” he says. If the buyer says, no, thank you, they’ll pass on the car, Jon charges $25 for his time and moves on. A completed inspection runs $99.95 for two-wheel drive vehicles and $129.95 for four-wheel and all-wheel drives. If an inspection takes place outside the Omaha metro area, ProTech Xpress does charge extra for the mileage.

A five-page PDF is available for download on the site as a comprehensive sample of what the ProTech Xpress inspection entails. “It’s all in my head,” Jon says of the checklist, “all from experience.”

Michelle recounts one instance where the inspection uncovered that a car had indeed been in an accident, even though the vehicle’s CARFAX report came up clean. “You can tell with a paint meter,” she says. “The paint’s thicker where it’s been repainted, and there was a little bit of overspray on one of the tires. The car’s owner didn’t even know it had been in a wreck because they had bought it second-hand, too.” The buyer was able to take that info and request a few hundred dollars off the price of the car. “Which more than pays for the cost of the inspection,” Michelle adds. Jon has found rust spots covered with a nice paint job and some duct tape. Another woman was purchasing a used SUV from a dealer and, based on ProTech Xpress’ report, was able to receive a new set of tires for free from the dealer.

Eventually, the couple would like to franchise the business. “That’s the big goal,” Jon says.

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