5 Things to check in used car before buying
Once you find out your next almost perfect car, then follow the below checks by yourself and you will be almost 75% sure that it’s clean and not lemon. To make it easy I have divided this in below 5 important areas:
- Check the car in daylight always or in extremely well lit area.
- No major dents, broken bumper, headlights, tail lights, indicator, brake light, chipped paint.
- No glass is broken from windows and front & back, including rear view mirrors.
- Open the door and check the pillars for any welding or repairing spots. That perfectly curly welding spot which is fully covered in car paint is the original manufacturer welding (that’s fine). Look for some type of accidental damage from side impact (if any). Open the engine bay and look all around the bay for any repair or repaint from accidental damage.
- Pull windows rubber beading to checking the inside metal gauge is perfectly straight and smooth and not involved in side impact accident.
- Car interior should match the kms driven even if car has the full service history.
- For cars under 50,000 km you shouldn’t be seeing any broken knobs, faded buttons, worn out brake or accelerator rubber, loose and shaky gear lever.
- Car seats should not have too much play when you sit and shake little bit.
- Pull the seat belt out and see how smoothly it goes back, if it doesn’t or get stuck half way then either car is accidental or driven over 100,000 kms.
- Look on the driver door sill, to spot any fuel station service oil change stickers to contradict the full service history.
- Not all dashboard warning lights are serious, the one in yellow is an indication and orange is warning and red is the problem. Still all lights are having different meaning for different brands, so worth checking further with owner’s manual of what any existing light points to.
- It should start in single crank and have stable RPM after first few minutes of warm up. Any dancing rpm is a sign of engine is not in good health. Though it’s a not a big concern, but a concern you should know that it will require some tune-up or minor repair work for changing spark plugs, coils, HT leads etc. in very near future.
- In idle when you hit the gas, engine response should be instant without any lag unless it’s a turbo engine that has turbo kicking lag (not engine lag). Japanese and Korean cars generally have fraction of second lag, which is acceptable but German and American cars engine should have immediate response when you tap on the accelerator.
- ALWAYS drive a car on highway at 120 km/h for at least 5-10 minutes, and any hesitation of engine will show up quite noticeably at higher RPM.
- NO check engine light on dashboard is acceptable. Period.
Transmission and Drive train:
- In auto gearbox, ideally a gearshift should not be noticeable and best to pay attention is from 1st – 2nd gear shift and see how smoothly it shift, as in any ageing gearbox that is the first starting point to show little to moderate jerk while shifting. Minor jerk could be because of stale oil and filter that is manageable but worth getting it checked further with proper technician. It may be a major expense, so it’s worth a second look when in doubt.
- In manual gearbox, firmer the gear lever shifts better it is. Loose or soft shifting gear lever needs further inspection. Try to shift gears manually as fast as you can and see how engine, clutch and gear respond to your fast movement: If you see any hesitation or delay in engine response in fast shifting need to be further diagnosed.
- On extremely slow speed (in quiet area) and while going for highway drive, pay attention to any rubbing, grinding, and metal shaking noise. It usually show when drive train has some issue from drive shaft or loose couplings often result in highway vibrations or low speed rattling.
- While driving if car pulls to any side it’s a concern and often it needs a wheel alignment (100-300 dhs) but in some cases it may be an axle damaged with minute fracture by hitting the pavement at high speed or off road damage in case of 4x4 or SUV’s.
- Try to look under the car and see any noticeable damage to the chassis, you can spot the recent damage by seeing the color difference on repair area than the rest of it. For older chassis damage you need to consult the proper technician who can check the chassis.
- Though this is not very big concern for check it yourself, as RTA approved testing center will check this in detail before passing the car for registration.
Disclaimer: I have written this and all linked articles to help my friends and family and other car enthusiast’s like you. This is purely based on my own experience. If you know anything more than this I am happy to edit these articles any time. Please leave me a comment and I will accept your changes and improvise these as soon as I can.
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