How to test used car?
Outside the car
❏ Rust holes or bubbles in the paintwork (especially door bottoms behind the rubber seals, wheel arches, around
the petrol cover, boot and windows.)
❏ Filler used to repair rust or accident damage.
❏ Colour variations in paintwork or in different panels (sign of accident damage).
❏ Bumps or ripples along panels (sign of accident damage).
❏ Shock absorbers worn (push down on each corner of the car; it’s a bad sign if it bounces more than twice).
❏ Doors, boot or bonnet don’t open and shut or lock properly (the gaps around the edges should be even).
❏ Damaged or cracked glass (this may not pass a warrant of firness)
Inside the car (interior)
❏ Interior too small (check legroom and headroom front and back).
❏ Seat (check for comfort, damage and adjustability).
❏ Seatbelts not working or frayed or badly faded.
❏ Headlining damaged.
❏ Windows that don’t wind down easily,
❏ Dampness or rust in floor pan: lift up the carpet (indicates leaks in windows and doors).
❏ Missing jack, wheel brace or spare wheel in boot.
❏ All the controls (indicators, wipers, lights, locks, gauges and warning lights, heater, air conditioning, stereo etc).
❏ Cigarette smell (non-smokers may find this hard to get rid of).
Under the bonnet of car
❏ Oil low on dipstick (could be an oil burner or a leak).
❏ Oil creamy or milky (water in oil: sign of a blown head gasket).
❏ Rusty water in radiator or overflow tank.
❏ Radiator fins rusted or crumbly.
❏ Leaks of water, oil or petrol.
❏ Corrosion around battery terminal and surrounding bodywork.
❏ Brake fluid or power steering fluid low.
❏ Signs of accident repair.
Under the car
❏ Worn tyre tread (it’s illegal if less than 1.5mm deep over 75% of the tread).
❏ Tyres worn unevenly or feathered on one side of tread pattern (sign of wheel misalignment).
❏ Tyres of different types or sizes.
❏ Spare tyre in poor condiition.
❏ Underbody shows fresh patches of underseal.
❏ Rust in underbody.
❏ Leaks on the ground under the vehicle.
❏ Loose exhaust system.
❏ Holes in exhaust (place a dampened rag over the tailpipe while the engine is running; spitting noise indicates holes).
Take a Test drive
❏ Controls don’t suit you or are stiff to move.
❏ Free play in steering wheel.
❏ Engine hard to start.
❏ Vehicle moves crabwise or wheels wobble (get someone to check as you drive away).
❏ Brakes are weak, pedal goes right to the floor or vehicle doesn’t stop straight (test on a smooth even road surface).
❏ Handbrake won’t hold car on a steep hill.
❏ Clutch slips or doesn’t release properly when engaging gears.
❏ Gears (or automatic shift) don’t change smoothly.
❏ Odd engine noises.
❏ Petrol or oil smells.
❏ Hard suspension on rough roads.
❏ Car pulls to one side or steering wheel not centred when driving straight.
❏ Exhaust smoke: idle the engine for a while then rev it, or drive down a long hill and accelerate at the bottom
(blue smoke indicates an oil burner, black means problems with the fuel mixture and white, long after the
engine is warmed up, may indicate water leaking in the engine).
❏ Engine runs on when you turn it off.