How to Check Out a Used Car Before Buying It. Part 3.

Remove the oil filler cap. A foam residue on the inside indicates a leaking head gasket. Forget that car. Look at the condition of the coolant in the overflow container; filthy brown coolant means it’s never been flushed and often means a leaky head gasket. Pull the transmission dipstick; the fluid should be pink or red. An old car may be dark but it should not look or smell burnt. It should also be full (check with the engine running).The timing belt is the most important belt in the engine, and is also the most costly to replace. If the car is equipped with a steel timing chain, you don’t have to worry about this. The lifespan of a timing belt/cam belt varies from manufacturer to manufacturer so make sure you ask if this has been replaced if so ask. The tyres should be worn evenly and they should match. Look at the surface of the tyre for feathering (bad alignment). Bad alignment can be caused by worn steering/suspension components, the pothole down the street or frame damage. Also check the spare tyre and compare the tread to the other tyres if it is a full spare.  Check for small trembling at varied increased mph. Slight tremor during a small speed interval may mean wear at the direction mechanical parts. These may include joints / arms etc. This may go together with uneven wear at the front tyre(s). Check for sounds, tremor or clunking noise when making a 90 degree turn. Do this at low speed. This means again, wear at the front direction level: joints need to be changed. Some cars have computers on board. Pay attention to any warning lights when you start the car or when you turn the key or the start button. Verify the lights and all the regular functions of the car when not moving. This includes: any sensors for parking, back parking camera, radio, CD, music installation, etc… If you are able, try to get under the car when it is safely raised and inspect the exhaust system or any under-body rust. Look for any black spots on the exhaust system because this can indicate leaking. This is also a good time to inspect for frame or underbody damage. Tune in tomorrow for the final part of ‘How to check out a Used Car before Buying It’.


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