Buying a used car
Need a used car, a New cars well new to you or interested in a specific model?. This car guide outlines what to look for when buying a used car, trouble shooting if you will, it details points including excessive smoking to panels being out of alignment. You'll learn what to look for when choosing a car including tips on trouble spots, getting a used car bargain can be a problem, and forget the nightmare stories that surface when people have bought or nearly bought a used car.
Well our guide goes some way in advising where and what to do, and gives you some tips - starting with:-
What model to choose?
How much should I pay?
Buy private or from a garage?
Are they trying to rip me off?
The list is endless, well this guide points out some things to look out for when buying a used car.
The chassis / body
Always check the panels are aligned, this is relatively simple to do, stand at one side of the car and line up a point say the front wing and follow the line down the car, if its relatively straight its good. Also check the gap between the doors and the panels on either side of the car make sure the gap is more or less the same. Its a good idea to check the sills for holes too. Rotten sill's will fail a cars MOT.
Always start a used car and give it a rev, then step out of the car and check the colour of the emissions, generally blue smoke indicates burning oil or possibly overfilled with oil, excessive grey smoke indicates heavy engine wear, possibility of engine seizure. Steam rather than smoke, after the engine has been run after approximately 5 minutes indicates generally a problem with the head gasket. A vehicle with a damaged head isn't always noticable, in some cases the car will run perfectly other times, the auto won't run at all.
Engine bay check
Be sure to open the bonnet when looking at a used car, the amount of people who don't do this is staggering.
Look over the engine for any excessive oil, burn marks, wet areas, fluidy areas. e.g. coroded brake hoses etc
Checking for a ruptured head gasket
Remove the water cap, check the colour and the viscousness of the liquid inside the header tank or radiator.
If the water is gunky and creamy, this symbolises the head gasket has gone, do not start the car (on some occasions this symptom also occurs on cars with oil coolers that have leaked into the cooling system e.g. Golf GTI)
If the water is either water or coolant coloured (Green or Blue), Start the engine.
Then look into the tank for bubbles (this is safe as the water in radiator / tank will no longer be pressurised, if bubbles rise from the bottom in a steady stream, this generally indicates the head gasket has gone.
The oil in the sump may or may not have congealed with the water, dependant on what stage the damage is at.