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How To Inspect A Used Car

Updated on June 23, 2014

Buying A Used Car

Are you thinking of buying a used car from a private seller and are not sure what to look for? In this hub i will go through some of the things that you should be looking for when buying a used car. There are plenty of con men/women out there that are willing to offload there pile of scrap to you and leave you with a big bill to fix or worse at risk of an accident. I'm a mechanic and i ve seen a lot of these cars and i can tell you that people are getting better at hiding faults in cars. I ve seen everything from gear oil or thicker oil put in the engine to sound out the noise of worn bearings. I ve seen side skirts fitted over rust to hide it. Bring a mechanic with you when viewing a car if you can. If you cant get one to go with you then maybe this hub will be very helpful to you. Below i will go through what you need to know so you don't get conned.

Spotting a Bad Engine

When spotting a bad car you always need to go with your gut. If you see something small no matter what size and your gut says it doesn't look right then go wit your gut. The first thing you should do when inspecting is check the temp gauge see how hot the engine runs and how long the car was running before you get there. Some people will drive a car hard or leave it ticking over to hide a smoke problem or engine noise which can only be heard when the engine is cold. Next you want to check under the bonnet and listen carefully to see if you can hear any excessive ticking or a rattling noise. If you hear a rattling noise its most likely that there is a bearing gone or starting to wear and if you hear an excessive ticking noise then it could be valves or tappets that are wearing. You should always remember to check for oil pressure by removing the oil cap and placing your hand over the hole, if your hand gets an oil ring on it then there's pressure. Also remember to dip the dip stick and look at the oil and smell it. If the oil is fresh oil there is a possibility that the car is burning oil and needs to be topped up regularly so ask the seller about when the oil was last changed.If the oil is sort of a white colour the head gasket might be leaking so you will need to remove the radiator cap slowly and see if the water is bubbling. If so then the head gasket is gone. After you have checked under the bonnet you should get down under the car and see if the engine is dry underneath and that there are no obvious oil or water leaks. Also check for any taped up wires that look dodgy and check for wire fittings that don't look right.

Spotting A Crash Repair

When it comes to spotting a car that was badly crashed before it can be tricky as there is plenty of ways to hide them. I ve seen people sand down rust and put a sticker over it or put a body kit on to hide a warped car. When your looking at a car check down along the gaps in the doors,boot and bonnet. These gaps should all be the same size and if there not this means that is probably got a bang before or that panel was replaced. If the gaps line up you should then check in the boot for noticeable damage. Lift up the spare wheel, pull back the carpet and clip out the plastic panels around the boot to see if there's any kinks or twists in the body panel. If the seller has a problem with you doing this then their more than likely trying to hide something. Ly down on the ground and run you hand the whole way along the bottom of the car to feel any welds or rust. Also check in the wheel arches to see if there's any rot. You should check every body panel and clip of any part that looks like it comes off or looks like it was off in the past. If the seller starts to try and get your attention while your checking the car for bangs ignore them as their trying to distract you from finding something.


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Driving The Car

When your viewing a car always test drive it before you buy it. If the seller says they ll drive it and you sit in the passenger seat say no that your not buying until you drive it. The car could be low on power or the engine missing and the seller will know how to hide this so that you wont feel it in the passenger seat. Also never test drive a car with the radio on in as you wont be able to hear any engine noise or any rattling noises that might be coming from the car. Some sellers will keep the radio up a bit to hide noises or they will keep you talking so you cant concentrate on listening for noises. If a seller is genuine i find that they will let you test drive on your own awhile they stay behind with your car.I hope some of these tips help you in the future and remember there are a lot of con men/women out there these days so be careful.


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