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April 4, 2014

Inspecting a Used Car Before You Buy

Purchasing a quality used vehicle can save you a great deal of money. However, it is important to remember that all used vehicles will not be in tip-top condition. In order to acquire a problem-free car, you will need to thoroughly inspect every aspect of the vehicle. The last thing that you want is to be stuck with a trouble-prone vehicle that needs expensive repair work. Here are some tips for inspecting a used car before you buy.

Check the oil
The appearance of the motor oil can reveal a lot about the health of an engine. Before even cranking the vehicle, take the time to the pull out the oil dipstick. Although the color of motor oil varies, it should never exhibit a milky or extremely black appearance. While milky motor oil indicates a potential head gasket issue, a burnt color indicates a lack of oil changes. Metal flakes in the oil means that the engine is on its last leg. You will then need to look underneath the engine. If you notice that the bottom of the engine is wet and oily, this is a surefire sign that there is an oil leak somewhere.

Look out for smoke
When starting the engine, keep an eye out for the presence of smoke coming out of the tailpipe. Exhaust smoke is a common sign of a worn engine. A smoking vehicle is seldom worth the hassle. While the engine is running, pop the hood to make sure that the engine is also free of smoke.

Listen to the engine
Ideally, the engine should run smoothly without emitting any strange noises. If you hear a knocking sound upon pressing the accelerator, this indicates a very serious problem. The vehicle should also accelerate with no hesitation. A rough running engine can be caused by a number of things, so it is always a good idea to steer clear of an engine that needs maintenance or repairs.

Check the tires
Irregular tire wear warrants an immediate red flag. A vehicle that is in need of a wheel alignment will typically have irregular tread wear on the tires. However, the abnormal tire wear could also stem from frame damage or a failed suspension component. Both of these problems are very costly to fix.

Inspect the Transmission fluid
After returning from a test drive, take the time to inspect the transmission fluid with the engine running. A low level of transmission fluid means that there is a leak. If this issue is not repaired in a timely manner, serious damage can be done to the gearbox. The transmission fluid is usually colored pink, red, or light brown. Like the motor oil, a milky or burnt appearance means trouble.

Check for rust
Always inspect both the body and undercarriage for rust. Even a vehicle that has a pristine paint job may still have rust lurking around the frame. Pay close attention to the area beneath the bumper cover.

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