How do you check a car over?

Associate
Joined
16 Jun 2009
Posts
626
OK ive got my eyes on this Golf and might pop down at the weekend to check it out. Its looks nice and is a pretty colour and thats about my knowledge of cars all used up :)


VW Golf GTi

Ok its only 1k so im not expecting a minter here :) But at the same time i dont want the wheels to drop off on the way home either.

Apart from rust in the wheel arches what other things should i look for that might ring alarm bells? Would they be offended if i jacked the car up and wobbled the wheels to check the bearings?
 
Soldato
Joined
26 Feb 2009
Posts
14,814
Location
Exeter
Just walk around it and kick the two front tyres - job done :)

I was going to make the same joke :)

Dont expect perfection, but roughly:

Start with the bodywork, make sure all the panels have good gaps which are the same size all the way down. Make sure there's no deep scratches which are down to the metal and that stone chips have been kept under control. Check for rust over the car, under the arches etc and any known problem places for the particular car.

Interior, check its all in tact and everything works, especially all the electrics. You cant expect too much at this price but you just want something thats clean and in one piece. Make sure the handbrake holds the car well and doesnt need to be pulled up really high to work.

Make sure the car's cold when you get there so you can make sure it runs properly when cold, starts properly and gets up to temperature and stays there. Start it when standing outside the car to look for any big puffs of smoke - do the same by revving it. Blue smoke for oil, white for water and black for too much fuel.

Get under the car and make sure there's no obvious damage to the floorpan and that the exhaust is in tact and secure. You'll also be able to spot any oil leaks while youre down there. Check all the tyres are wearing evenly and have decent tread.

Under the bonnet, check all the fluids are at the correct levels. Check for "mayonnaise" in the oil filler cap or dirty/oily water - either generally means the head gasket has failed. Make sure things like the HT leads are in good condition, there's no oil in unusual places etc. Make sure the battery is in good knick too. Be suspicious of an engine bay thats too clean, it may have been steam cleaned - this can be to cover up a biger problem and can cause problems with steam in the electrics.

Test drive it and make sure it feels right - the clutch shouldnt be too heavy and should bit in the middle of the pedal. The brake pedal should be firm not have too much travel. The gearbox shouldnt be "sloppy" and there shouldnt be any play in the steering wheel. Find a quiet stretch of road, loosen your grip on the wheel and brake hard from about 30 - make sure it doesnt pull to one side. If the car has ABS an emergency style stop from 30 should make it kick in, if it doesnt you the brakes should be effective enough to lock the wheels. Again, driving about 30, put it into 5th, press the clutch, rev the engine quite high and dump the clutch - this will show you if the clutch is slipping. Listen for any odd noises like clunking, knocking, squealing etc.

Thats about all I can think of at the moment but theres probably a lot more
 
Soldato
Joined
25 Oct 2004
Posts
7,895
Location
Sunny Torbaydos
Bare in mind that if it is sold as seen, being a trade seller you still have a come back!

If for instance a week after buying it the engine blew up you have every right to return to the garage and they should sort it for you at no cost to yourself. Providing the garage didnt say, the engine is knackered and likely to blow up before you bought it, if they disclose faults, you cannot go back to them, if they dont and something goes wrong you can.

Falls under the Trade Act, all goods sold should be of reasonable quality, an engine blowing up would reflect that it is not of reasonable quality :p
 
Last edited:
Don
Joined
21 Oct 2002
Posts
46,558
Location
Parts Unknown
iaind, excelllent post
icon14.gif
 
Associate
OP
Joined
16 Jun 2009
Posts
626
the what now?

Thanks for the replies though, a lot more to check over than id of imagined!

As far as power goes, it might amaze some to understand that not everyone needs a 1000bhp mad wagon that has the potential to tear itself in half with the torque when the lights turn orange.
 
Caporegime
Joined
19 Apr 2008
Posts
25,925
Location
Essex
the what now?

Thanks for the replies though, a lot more to check over than id of imagined!

As far as power goes, it might amaze some to understand that not everyone needs a 1000bhp mad wagon that has the potential to tear itself in half with the torque when the lights turn orange.

I didn't say that, I was just stating that the MK3 GTI is underpowered for what it is, a GTI! The MK2 1.8 GTI had 112bhp and the 16v was 140bhp so it's a bit of a step backwards.
 
Soldato
Joined
24 Sep 2007
Posts
3,721
I have a 34 page Word Doc on my computer where I collected info from how to check a user car from the internet. As long as you don't try and republish it, I'll e-mail you a copy if you want one. Bear in mind it's just info I collected so I can't vouch for how good the advice is.

Rgds
 
Associate
OP
Joined
16 Jun 2009
Posts
626
oh thats ok radders, if i needed to look at a car that closely id get an AA man to check it out. I just need to check obvious stuff to make sure it will make it home :)
 
Soldato
Joined
13 Mar 2004
Posts
16,649
with 92k miles it should be immaculate inside. 100k miles is nothing for those cars.

suspension bushes will be near the end of their lives

check its had the cambelt changed at some point

using the onboard computer, see what the MPG is. that will give you a good idea of how healthy things are under the bonnet. should be 33mpg average +

rust can happen above the windscreen, on the tail gate and under the rear side windows but as its a "later" car they are all galvanised so i wouldnt worry about rust that much

friggin bullet proof cars though
 
Soldato
Joined
5 Sep 2005
Posts
11,741
Location
Northern Ireland
Theres a website that lists problem areas you should check on any car (like on an individual basis - I seem the remember the Fiat Stilo page being many pages long :D ), if I can remember the name I'll post it up.
 
Top Bottom