When thinking about purchasing a second hand car
there are many things that you should check to make sure you are getting
a reliable vehicle - below is a checklist of what to check look at,
but remember for a more accurate evaluation of the vehicle have your
friendly mechanic at Advanced mobile tune look at it for you at our
workshop or at the sellers premises.
The car’s body
check: Rust or accident damage Look for paint bubbles
variations in the paint colour, loose panels or panels that don’t appear to fit properly.
Check the inside of the boot, the bottom of the doors under the carpet and the floor wells for rust scale or
perforations, which are signs of advanced rust.
Doors, boot and windows
Make sure the boot and each door and window opens
and closes securely and the locks are operating. Check
the rubber seals are in place and are in good condition.
Look for over spraying which is a sign of a
potential poor repair. Chips, dents and scratches are more signs of poor
Date of manufacture
Check the vehicle build date as well as the date on
the compliance plate to see that the advertised date of
manufacture is correct. The vehicle information plate and compliance
plate are usually fitted to a panel in the
engine bay. Some later model vehicles have the compliance plate attached
to the boot floor panel.
A dirty engine is a sign the car has not been well
maintained and may indicate a mechanical problem.
Grey or milky oil indicates a serious problem.
Don’t be fooled by lovely clean oil at the first dip; check the oil
colour again after the engine has been running. A thick oil build up is
a sign the car is lacking in maintenance.
Engine at idle
Ensure the engine starts easily without hard
revving. Lift the bonnet and listen to the engine idle. The sound should
be even with no unusual noises (knocking, rattling, etc). Check the
exhaust smoke; blue smoke can signify serious problems.
Check for damage or corrosion. Even worse, check
for signs of leakage.
The coolant should be clean and brightly coloured.
The battery should be held securely in place and
the battery terminals should be secure and clean. Check for acid
Under the car:
Excessive noise or fumes may indicate holes or rust
in the muffler or pipes.
Check all tyres for tread, cracks and uneven wear,
which can indicate problems with the steering or suspension. Include the
spare tyre in your inspection.
Check the engine, transmission, differential,
brakes, power steering and the shock absorbers for any signs of a
Inside the car
Upholstery, trim and carpets
Check throughout for wear and tear. Remember to
look under mats and seat covers.
Check the seat belts are in good condition, not
frayed or faded, and that they are well anchored.
Ensure all lights illuminate when they should, both
on the dashboard and outside the car.
Accessories and electrical devices
Try them out. Make sure the radio,
air-conditioner/heater, windscreen wipers, horn, electric windows, etc
all work as they should. This is still important to check even if you
are buying from a licensed motor vehicle dealer as they may have
excluded some of these items from the warranty so if there is a problem
will be yours.
Jack and tool kit
Make sure they are included and are in a workable
During the test drive:
Make sure the pedal feels firm on application. When
braking, the steering wheel should not vibrate and the car should stop
smoothly in a straight line and not pull to one side.
Relax your grip on the steering wheel and see if
the car pulls to one side as this can indicate either worn suspension or
Listen for any rattling or knocking noises when you
accelerate, decelerate or are cruising. Unusual noises may indicate
Blue smoke can signify serious problems.
Listen for any unusual noises particularly when you
drive over bumps.
Check the gears change easily (both in manual and
automatics) without any abnormal ‘whining’ or ‘howling’ noises.