Let Google Translate This Blog For You

Friday, April 11, 2014

Love your Used car Salesman! A guide to swindling the swindler. PT-2

  Last post we discussed the initial inspection, now to get a bit more in depth. Reach inside and pull the hood release and lets go under the hood and have a look. Most of the fluids requiring attention are under the hood- this can tell you a lot about maintenance. 

First- is it TOO clean? Did someone just take a pressure washer to it and clean it to make sure it looks like it leaks no fluids? What you want to see is dry, dusty metal and parts, no major oily spots, wet areas, or dust clots; no broken/ cracked hoses or other rubber parts, frayed cables or belts, loose clamps, missing/ loose bolts, parts mis-aligned or rubbing on belts...
It is fully normal for all machines to leak a tiny bit of something, and to be a bit dirty. If its too clean under the hood, be cautious and skeptical. Too clean could mean someone is trying to hide something- or simply that they are a neat freak and keep everything clean. Just be aware and ask questions. Fresh wet is obvious- it means something is leaking enough to keep a dark wet-looking mark. Thick dust covered greasy spots are another clue that something has been leaking and collecting dust for a long time.  

Check the engine oil and inspect the oil fill cap. Is the oil fresh and golden and filled to the proper level? Or is it dark and rancid smelling? Is the oil filler cap full of condensation with white, buttery grease inside, or is it just clean and oily? Buttery grease inside the cap be a sign engine damage, or at least cold driving and acids sitting in the engine with the water because the engine has not been heated up enough to boil out that water. This small test can tell a lot about the maintenance/ driving habits of the owner, and the internal condition of the engine. Be wary of butter on the oil cap. 

 Check the brake and clutch fluids. They are generally both DOT 3/ 4 fluids and should be clean and crystal clear, not darkened. Dark brown or black brake fluid needs to be flushed out immediately (we'll discuss this in a later post). Pale brown fluid is normal and should be flushed some time soon, but its probably fine for now.  

Remove the radiator cap -ONLY IF ITS COOL- and check the underside of the cap for oil or greasy buttery material- this can indicate a neglected cooling system or leaking head gasket- or cracks in the radiator caps rubber seal. Is the coolant (orange, green, purple, blueish) fairly clear or is it cloudy? Is the radiator completely full when the cap is pulled? Is the coolant overflow tank filled to the proper level and is there gunk in the bottom that needs to be cleaned out? 

When you squeeze the hoses- radiator cap back on now- do they feel firm but flexible? They shouldn't feel hard and brittle or soft and mushy. If you hear or feel threads pop and break inside when you squeeze the hoses, plan to change them out soon.

If the vehicle is front wheel, or four-wheel drive, you may be able to look down inside the engine bay at the CV shafts (axle shafts, half-shafts...) and visually check the protective rubber boots for tears, cracks, or even entirely missing boots. If the boot has a tear, the grease has gotten thrown out and dirt has gotten into the joint. Thus, the joint and shaft are in need of replacing before it fails from grinding with no lubrication. Letting this go and allowing it to reach failure can fully ruin a vehicle and be a major safety concern. If you cannot see the CV boots from above, you will need to check them from underneath the car. Regardless of which direction you access them, if the boot is still intact, grab the middle metal portion of the CV shaft and pull it in and out, sideways and up and down- it should move easily in and out, but have no movement at all otherwise.

  With cardboard or carpet to lay down under you, go around the whole car from all 4 sides and lay down and inspect visually the entire underside of the car from all angles. Checking for: fluid leaks, missing parts or paint, rust, dents or big scratches that speak of abuse. Too many new clean parts are a clue that a recent wreck- there may be other hidden damage. Check the frame, exhaust, skidplates, driveshafts, swaybars and bushings for looseness, cracks in metal or rubber, leakage, dents... There can be a lot to see under there, things bent and damaged may be hard to see. Even a trained eye can miss some, but most of the time I have found that almost anyone can recognize something not fitting right, cracked, worn, or just not quite correct. Everything is there for a reason and there are very few parts under a car that are unneeded. If anything is damaged, it should have professional eyes on it soon to determine its importance and repair priority. 

 Back up top, try to bounce the car by pushing down on the car in the front, back and sides- the car should be hard to get to bounce on the springs. It should want to just sit when you push down or pull up. The shocks/ struts should stop any bouncing of the vehicle immediately. If the car keeps bouncing, or its too easy to keep it bouncing, the struts or shocks need to be changed. While trying to bounce the vehicle, listen for clunks, clicks, squeaks or grinding sounds. Have a helper bounce the vehicle while you look under it for where the noise is coming from and try to isolate the sound, or at least get a general area where the sound is coming from. Again, professional help may be needed for persistent or hard to find clunks or grinds.

  Another thing to check is wheel bearings and ball joints while we are here. Grab the top of the wheels one at a time and shake them in and out with all the strength you have. If you feel any movement or clunks, clicks, grinding, or hear squeaks, this may indicate that there are problems that you will need a professional to diagnose or repair. If the bearings or ball joints are loose, they can become dangerous very quickly and should be repaired immediately. 

 If everything looks good so far in the initial inspection, its time for a test drive. That'll be part 3 of this guide.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Share your thoughts