Examine the Recently Driven Vehicle
Once drivers have finished test driving a vehicle, they should park it in a level spot and, once again, open the hood.. They should then turn the car off and check under the vehicle for any leaks. The use of a flashlight can help with this task. The lower part of the engine and the transmission may be somewhat wet, but no oil drips should be present. Prospective buyers should note that if the air conditioner has been running, water coming from the drain tube is to be expected.
Check the Oil
In order to check the oil, buyers should locate the oil dipstick and pull it out. They should then wipe the oil onto a rag and note its color. If the color is a light brown to clear, that is a positive sign. Clean or full oil does not, however, always mean that the engine is in good shape. The dealer could have changed the oil recently, so it is important to take that into consideration. However, if the oil is dark or black, that could indicate negative consumption of oil by the engine. The exception is with diesel engines, where black oil is normal. Carbon deposits along the length of the dipstick, which show up as dark stains, is also a negative sign. A light gray colored froth may be a sign of the car having overheated, as water has leaked into the engine, or a gasket could be blown. Customers should never purchase a vehicle that has overheated, as it can create major problems.
Take a Closer Look at the Engine
When taking a look at the engine, prospective buyers should consider whether the engine itself looks clean. Oftentimes, dealerships and private sellers will remove any previous signs of leaks or buildup by steam cleaning the engine. Buyers should look for remaining stains that could indicate fluid leaks. Repairing gaskets can be costly and if they are leaking, it can be a costly process to have to undertake. If there are new spots of silicone in the gaskets or if there are areas that have been repaired (which are known as spot repairs), it could lead to the need for future replacements down the road. The engine may even need to be taken apart to replace these gaskets, which can be very costly. Buyers should note, however, that water coming from an air conditioning compressor is very normal if the air conditioning has been running. In order to check the engine, a flashlight can be shined inside the oil-fill cap to look at the internal surfaces. If there is any kind of buildup or sludge, it can be indicative of negligence in terms of oil changes and maintenance.
The Timing Belt
Buyers should try to determine whether the timing belt has been changed. Usually, timing belts need to be replaced every 60,000 to 100,000 miles and are an added cost of buying a used vehicle when the buyer is expected to replace it. Buyers should make sure to ask sellers if they have receipts. Timing belts are usually difficult to view because there is a cover protecting them and obstructing them from view.
Signs of Neglect
Bulging gaskets, loose wires, and stripped or dry and cracked belts are all signs of a bad engine. If these issues are present, the engine has simply not been maintained properly. If buyers are unsure about what a bulging gasket looks like, for example, they should be sure to search for pictures online so that they can identify this problem.
Conduct Final Research
If a vehicle presents itself as not having any problems that a buyer is not willing to assume responsibility for, the car