When you try a used car, inspection is a must for bodywork, exterior elements, interior and electronics, but that’s not all. It remains the heart of the vehicle, the engine and its components. What to control on the road? Discover the elements to be inspected so as not to forget anything.
A first glance
If you have followed the logic of our steps for the purchase of your used vehicle, whatever the mode of payment, on credit via a car loan or cash, you have already gone through the external inspection (bodywork, paint , lighting, windows) and interior (electronics, seats, embedded systems, trunk, etc.). You only have one last theme left before taking the model to a test drive, the one of mechanics.
First, examine the bonnet fasteners, the condition of the cylinder or metal rod, then the various joints present to see if they come off or are cracked, and finally the insulation part that must be plated and flawless.
Then take a look at the general appearance of the engine compartment, trying to detect any leaks first. If it is clean, it is a good indication of proper maintenance of the vehicle by its owner. But be careful, this does not mean that the engine or the different mechanical parts are all in perfect condition!
Control the fluids
Then check the three main fluids consumed very quickly:
- Look at the engine oil level and ask what type was used;
- Inspect the coolant reservoir, which should not be too full or almost empty;
- Do the same for the washer fluid.
If it does not help much to technically check the condition of other parts at a standstill, still ask the seller the age of the current battery, if the alternator is original, and when the candles have been changed (if this is the case). Feel free to ask if startups are sometimes difficult. In this event, one of the components could be the origin.
On the road
Once the examination of the different parts of the car is done, it remains the most important control, that of the test drive. Try to agree to a duration of at least 15 minutes, the time to check all the main functions and in different situations: city, fast lane or winding road.
During the test of the car, you can suggest to the seller to ride in your company. This will allow you to know the treatment that has been inflicted on him for several months or years, such as sudden shifts or nerve driving more demanding engine.
Increasingly widespread, radar and cameras come to save your parking maneuvers. If the vehicle is equipped, park by testing the reversing and frontal radars, or even the reversing camera, or so-called “360 °” systems. Same for driver assistance devices such as lane departure warning, emergency braking or cruise control.
During this test, detect if the steering has blurs or vibrations, and do the same with the accelerator or brake pedals at various pressures. This will show the operation of the engine and braking system on all occasions. The gearbox is just as essential. Take care to pass all reports, which must be done without a hitch and without the clutch pedal causes difficulties (if manual transmission).
Also note any suspicious noise that may indicate a mechanical problem compromising the condition of the vehicle, and any smoke during operation of the exhaust.
Here you have checked the mechanics and how it works. If you like the used vehicle and you are ready to buy, you have to check the documents and organize the transaction.