When you’re buying a used car, there’s so much stuff you have to keep in mind. There could be unforeseen problems with the windows, radio, steering, and various other features of the vehicle. However, what about the actual engine itself?
The piece of machinery that makes your car move is arguably the most important thing to check.
Although this guide to buying a used car can help you look out for things, it’s handy to have some information condensed down. As a result, we’ve put together 5 things you should check in the engine when buying a new car.
Here are 5 things to check in the engine when buying a used car.
1. Check The Exhaust Fumes Color
The exhaust fumes are one of the easiest visual clues that give away how good the engine on a used car is.
Ideally, the smoke from the exhaust smoke be white-grey in color. It may be a tad darker in older cars naturally, but it should always be light and fairly pale.
If you find that the smoke is blue, dark grey, or black, then that’s a sign of problems with the engine. Similarly, if there is a large volume of smoke at once, then that’s a sign of problems as well.
2. Assess The Vehicle History
Using the car’s VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) you should be able to track the basic history of the vehicle and see if any red flags come up. Several services allow you to track vehicle history, but CARFAX is probably the most popular one.
Services like CARFAX allow you to look for things like liens, former accidents, product/part recalls, vehicle recalls, whether the car was ever reported stolen, and more. If there has been major engine damage or a key engine component has been recalled, you will know.
If the current owner is lying about the car’s previous history or they refuse to give you a VIN, it’s a huge red flag.
3. Look For Any Obvious Fluid Leaks
There are so many fluids that can leak on your car. Window wiper fluid could leak, for instance, but this isn’t a major concern. However, if anything important is leaking from your engine, it could spell trouble for your vehicle.
Be sure to check the oil dipstick to make sure that the engine’s oil is at an adequate level. Pop the hood and look at the engine to make sure there are no signs of obvious leakage from the transmission fluid, oil, brake fluid, or any other important liquids.
If everything looks fine when the car is stationary, a 20-minute test drive is enough time for you to shake out any leaking fluids and assess the drips on the ground when you pull up.
4. Check For Fluid Discoloration
Engine oil should be light brown in color. Look at the color of the oil on the dipstick – is it brown?
If it’s black, dark, or dirty, it implies that the engine oil hasn’t been changed in a long time OR that there’s some kind of problem with the engine.
Don’t buy a car with nasty engine oil!
5. Listen To It When It’s Idling
Listening to a car when the engine is idling is one of the easiest ways to detect engine issues.
All cars sound different naturally, but an experienced driver should get a gut feeling when a car engine just sounds like it’s in distress.
If you can hear a squealing timing belt, strange unexplained noises, and things that just don’t sound normal… it’s probably not a good sign.
From checking your oil to looking at exhaust fumes, hopefully one of these tips helps you when buying a used car!