In­spect­ing a used car

Lesotho Times - - Motoring -

Un­used ex­tra space can be a waste, with big­ger cars of­ten cost­ing more to buy and run than smaller ones, so think about how many peo­ple you’ll have in the car – and how of­ten. If you’ll only take pas­sen­gers oc­ca­sion­ally, a city car like the Fiat 500 or a su­per­mini like the Ford Fi­esta could be just right, whereas a

GIV­ING a used car a thor­ough check can seem daunt­ing, but many faults are easy to spot. We take you through the must-do checks when in­spect­ing a used car. Ex­te­rior checks

Check the body­work for a con­sis­tent paint fin­ish – the paint should be the same shade all over the car; if not, it’s prob­a­bly had some dam­age and a re­spray

Make sure the gaps be­tween the pan­els are the same width – if not, the car could have been crashed and re­paired

Check the doors and the boot open and close smoothly, and ex­am­ine the rub­ber seals for paint – it could point to a re-spray

Press down care­fully on the car at each cor­ner and re­lease; the car should re­turn smoothly to its nor­mal height – if it bounces be­fore set­tling the sus­pen­sion could need work

Bub­bling paint­work in­di­cates rust and is most com­mon around the wheel arches, bumpers and win­dow frames – check ev­ery­where, par­tic­u­larly ar­eas regularly in con­tact with wa­ter

Check the car’s Ve­hi­cle Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Num­ber (VIN) for signs of tam­per­ing. The VIN is recorded on a me­tal strip at the base of the wind­screen, un­der the bon­net or be­neath the car­pet on the driver’s side.

Check the tyres and the spare wheel with a tread depth gauge, which are avail­able from car ac­ces­sory shops. The min­i­mum le­gal tread depth is 1.6mm across the width of the tyre, but more is bet­ter.

Make sure the tyres have even wear – more wear on one side of If you are buy­ing a car for short jour­neys, it’s prob­a­bly best to choose a model with a small the tyre in­di­cates the sus­pen­sion or track­ing align­ment needs ad­just­ing – it could also point to crash dam­age.

If the car is a con­vert­ible, make sure the roof moves up and down smoothly and locks fully into place, Think care­fully how much lug­gage you need to carry in your car. A city car’s boot usu­ally has enough space for a cou­ple of shop­ping bags, but lit­tle more, whereas a large es­tate check the ma­te­rial for tears, and make sure the rear win­dow is free from cracks and dis­coloura­tion. Un­der the bon­net

Check the car’s VIN is the same as recorded in the log­book.

Check for oil, wa­ter or other fluid car can take you and your pas­sen­gers on hol­i­day or ac­com­mo­date a few pets.

If you have any par­tic­u­lar things you need to carry — whether it’s kids, pets or your golf clubs – don’t be ashamed of tak­ing them along to try in the car when you test drive it. Boot ca­pac­ity fig­ures are a good guide to how spa­cious a car is, but the shape of the boot can be just as im­por­tant as its sheer size when it comes to load­ing lug­gage.

Last, but not least, if you think you’ll oc­ca­sion­ally need to carry more lug­gage, it’s worth find­ing out the car’s ca­pac­ity not just with its rear seats in place, but also with them folded down.

If you have some­thing par­tic­u­lar you need the car to do, make sure it is up to the job: if you tow a trailer, for ex­am­ple, check the of­fi­cial max­i­mum tow­ing weight; if you’re head­ing off road, make sure the car has ad­e­quate ground clear­ance and suit­able tyres; and, if you have a small garage, check out the car’s mea­sure­ments. — au­ leaks around the en­gine and other me­chan­i­cal com­po­nents, as well as on the ground un­der­neath.

Re­move the en­gine oil dipstick, wipe it with a cloth and re­place it. Re­move it again and check the oil is on or around the ‘max’ level; the oil should be golden and free from de­bris – if not, the oil will need chang­ing and could in­di­cate ne­glect.

Check the top of the en­gine (you may need to un­clip the plas­tic en­gine cover first) and un­der­neath the en­gine oil cap for a white, may­on­naise-like sub­stance which could in­di­cate a dam­aged en­gine head gas­ket and of­ten-ir­repara­ble en­gine dam­age.

Check the fluid lev­els for the en­gine coolant (large, of­ten round tank with a screw cap filled with pink fluid) and brake fluid (small bot­tle, of­ten at­tached at the rear of the en­gine bay) are at the cor­rect in­di­cated level when the en­gine is cool.

Check the bat­tery ter­mi­nals and con­nec­tors on top of the bat­tery are rust-free and in good con­di­tion. In­side the car

The mileage on the odome­ter in­side the speedome­ter should be con­sis­tent with the ad­vert and car’s doc­u­ments.

Check wear on the seats and steer­ing wheel are con­sis­tent with the car’s mileage – high mileage cars will of­ten show wear on the side bol­sters and the steer­ing wheel may have a shiny ap­pear­ance.

Check the VIN for signs of tam­per­ing. The VIN is recorded on a me­tal strip at the base of the wind­screen, un­der the bon­net or be­neath the car­pet on the driver’s side.

Make sure ev­ery­thing works, in­clud­ing the air con­di­tion­ing, all elec­tric win­dows, sun­roof, ad­justable seats and even the fuel-filler and bon­net re­lease.

Look for dam­age to the steer­ing col­umn and ig­ni­tion – dam­age could in­di­cate the car has been stolen at some point.

Check the seat­belts, the pas­sen­ger side of the dash­board and the steer­ing wheel cover – frayed seat­belts could in­di­cate they’ve been ac­ti­vated in a crash and dam­age to the dash­board and steer­ing wheel could mean the car’s airbags have been ac­ti­vated in a crash. Pa­per­work checks

Al­ways visit pri­vate sellers at their home ad­dress and check it is the same as the one listed in the car’s log­book.

Check the car’s log­book, ser­vice history, pre­vi­ous MOT cer­tifi­cates and any old bills and re­ceipts to es­tab­lish if the car has been cared for, iden­tify re­cur­ring faults and check­ing the car’s mileage is gen­uine.

Look at each MOT cer­tifi­cate and ser­vic­ing stamp – the car’s to­tal mileage should in­crease at a steady rate at each MOT and ser­vice in­ter­val.

Only ac­cept orig­i­nal pa­per­work, and check for forg­eries – the log­book should have a water­mark, and you can call the garage the last MOT was car­ried out at and the pre­vi­ous owner to check the car’s past.— au­

Thor­oughly in­spect a used car be­fore pur­chase.

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