Car Buyers' Guide: Thorough checks a must before buying
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Whether buying a new car, a house or a kitchen, it’s always good to have some peace of mind before parting with hard-earned money.
Before buying a used vehicle, AA always recommends booking a pre-purchase vehicle inspection (also known as a PPI). Unexpected car repair bills can leave owners out of pocket, and a thorough inspection can uncover secrets of a vehicle’s past that people without mechanical knowledge wouldn’t always spot. And it’s reassuring knowing the car is reliable before the purchase is completed.
Before booking a vehicle inspection start with having a good look under the bonnet for any obvious signs of leakage, rust or damage. Warming up the engine can often make coolant leaks more apparent.
Check for obvious damage and wear, and make sure the main features of the car function correctly, such as the windows, lights and mirrors.
Check the tyres for cracks and perishing. These signs indicate that the tyres are old and need to be replaced. To check the tread depth, insert a 20c coin into the tyre tread with the number 20 facing you. The base of the number 20 is approximately 2mm from the edge of the coin, which is just above the minimum WoF standard for a regular tyre (1.5mm).
Once you are satisfied with the car’s superficial condition, it’s time to hand the job over to the professionals for a more detailed assessment. Remember, even a car that looks fine on the surface could be hiding some serious issues underneath. This is why the AA highly recommends a vehicle inspection before agreeing to buy any used car.
What can a pre-purchase vehicle inspection find?
● Diagnostic checks such as electronic relative compression tests, and head gasket checks can assess the engine’s health and may detect issues with its condition.
● Signs of recent repair, corrosion, or evidence of recent underseal on the vehicles bodywork are all tell-tale signs of prior issues. It may be that over the years, the vehicle has endured more hits than The Beatles.
● Fluid leaks can be costly to repair and must be checked in detail from an experienced technician. Leaks can come from the engine and drivetrain, through to the cooling system.
● Batteries must be tested to ensure that they’re healthy. Faulty electronic systems, including diagnostic warning lights, can also spell disaster if they remain illuminated on the dashboard.
● A road test may uncover faults relating to the vehicle’s transmission, driveline and braking systems. These can be uncovered by excessive noise or vibrations, or unusual operation. An experienced technician can advise on what could be causing the issue.
It’s best to invest in a vehicle inspection carried out by a trained professional. The report will address any concerns surrounding a vehicle’s condition and quality. And a robust check could help save buyers from future issues. It may also help when negotiating the price.