WHAT TO LOOK FOR
SIX-CYLINDER ENGINES: TOUGH WORKHORSES
Six-cylinder power units are tough, and will cover huge mileages, if properly maintained. It’s crucial to ensure that the timing chain tensioners have been replaced at 60,000 miles, if only to preserve the life of the chains. If this doesn’t occur, the timing chains themselves can fail at mileages as low as 100,000-120,000. All power units are sensitive to timely oil changes – 12,000 is stretching it – and any rough running in fuel injected models will be down to failing air temperature or crank position sensors. Otherwise, these cars are good for 300,000 miles.
FOUR-CYLINDER ENGINES: SIMPLEST FOR DIY
‘Family II’ engines have cambelts, and for safety’s sake, make sure that they’ve been replaced within the past 40,000 miles or five years – any further or longer, and you’re risking trouble if you don’t get it changed. Servicing is easily within DIY capability, as these cars were designed for simple maintenance. This includes cambelt changes. Oil breathers of four-cylinder engines are known for getting blocked, and rattly topend or noisy valve gear points to missed oil changes or general neglect – in which case, it’s usually best to walk away.
ELECTRICS: MOSTLY GOOD
Unless you’re unlucky and go for an early 1.8-litre entry-level model, these cars are packed with equipment. But do ensure that electric windows, the sunroof and central locking work as they should. Most issues are down to dodgy switches or dry joints. And does the ABS work? Don’t just rely on the indicator light, as it can – and often is – rigged. Other random issues, such as poor idling, flat spots or poor fuel consumption, can be down to the ECU connector developing dry joints that allow moisture in. All are easily resolved with time and patience.
THE BODY (NOT SO) BEAUTIFUL
Rust is generally evident on these cars, so check for obvious signs at the rear of the inner sills, the strut tops, and most obviously at the rear arches. All are fiddly and timeconsuming to repair in a satisfactory way. Rust also claims brake and fuel lines, so if you can, check that these are good.
Body panels and interior parts are getting scarce now, so make sure it’s all in one piece. Don’t laugh off missing trim – it can be a nightmare to replace like for like.