5 Things To Check Regarding The Car Engine When Buying A Used Car

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If you are interested in buying your first used car, you will need some sharp eyes to make sure you don’t end up with a lemon. Sellers try their best to hide the defects of their cars in order to get rid of it as soon as possible. If you are looking to buy a used car, and it’s your first car, try seeking help from a friend or a colleague who knows a thing or two about cars.

But if you can’t find anyone, no need to fret. Here are five things you should look at before buying a used car. The body of the car and its exterior give you a pretty clear photo as far as its physical condition is concerned, although there could be more than what meets the eye let’s just leave that for a later discussion. In this blog, we will talk about checking the heart of the car. An engine is a complex machine and requires detailed inspection, but for the sake of keeping it simple, we will talk about five important and relatively basic aspects of an engine. Let’s start with smoke:

Check for smoke

Smoke from a diesel car is expected, but if you are buying a used petrol car, you need to find what kind of smoke it is. A cloud of blue smoke from the exhaust means the car is burning its motor oil. At the cold start, if you see there is light blue smoke, but it vanishes after the warm-up, then that can be considered as normal since older engines sometimes have worn out oil seals and oil drips in the cylinder overnight and you will see some light smoke on the cold start in the morning. Excessive blue smoke even after the warm-up is not a good sign. Stay clear of such cars. Also, if the smoke is black, it means the car is burning excessive fuel. It’s running rich. Rich prolonged burning means car engine has carbon deposits in it.

blue smoke
Also Read: Don’t Expect Your Ecobox To Become A JF-17 By Putting Hi-Octane Fuel

Check everything related to oils

Check the oil quality and level of the engine oil with the dipstick. If it looks like a mud-slushy, it means the current owner didn’t bother to change the oil for a long period of time. When you lift the car’s bonnet, check for oil residue and seepage around the engine. A small patch of muddy and dusty oil is okay in an old car. It shouldn’t look fresh and/or all around the engine head, etc. That means leaking oil is a persistent problem in that car. Fixing it will take time and money. You might even find out the car had something worse done to it, hence the constant fresh oil spots. Open the oil cap and look inside. If you don’t find any black carbon gunk inside, and everything looks clean and shiny, that is a good sign as well. Also, ask the owner where the car is usually parked. Looks for the oil drip stains on the floor of his garage etc.

oil cap engine

Check coolant

Check for the coolant of the car. Open the radiator of the car, and see if the current owner has bothered to use any anti-freeze/anti-boil in the car. Unfortunately, most owners of old cars don’t bother to put anti-freeze in their cars. See for the signs of rust under the radiator cap. If it’s excessive, it means the car has been running on good old plain water for a long period of time. You will find the rust deposits and residue in the reservoir bottle of the car as well. One very important thing to check when you open the radiator cap is if there is any oil mixed with the water. If you find a foamy substance inside and oil residue, stay away from the car.


Listen for engine noises

Do a cold start and listen to the noises. Warmed up engine would hide a lot of its weaknesses that are only visible when the car is cold. A minor clicking sound from an engine is normal. It’s usually the sound of cold tappets. You don’t need to worry about that. The sound will vanish when the car heats up. Make sure there is no heavy thudding and clunking sound in the engine or constant loud noise of metal grinding. Let the car warm up, and on the light push of the accelerator, listen for sounds again. If you find the engine is making unnecessary mechanical noise, you should stay clear, or ask an expert about it. Rebuilding an engine is expensive. You don’t want to end up buying your first car that ends up in a workshop in its first week of purchase.


Test drive

Ask for a test drive. A test drive can help you make your mind better. The engine, although a major part of the car, is still just one part of it. Also, your transmission is another important part of the car. A test drive will let you check that as well. Maybe if you drive it, you find you don’t like the drive of the car even though it looks good otherwise. Not only will a test drive give you actual feedback regarding the condition of the engine under load, but it will also give you an overall picture of the car.

These are just a few of the things that can help you decide whether to buy the car or not. It’s a vast subject, and there are a lot of variables. We have tried to simplify some of the most basic points for those who are new to car buying.

If our expert readers have more to add to the points mentioned above, please do in the comments section below. Happy motoring!

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  1. Guest says

    Actually it is better to buy a car with a good body and to-be-overhauled engine.
    Get the engine overhauled yourself. This way you control what goes inside. All the seals are new. After that you can start using some good oil and have a long and satisfied life with your car.

  2. Muhammad Yasir says

    but that costs money :/
    unless the car seller is COMPENSATING the buyer for the replacement of old engine … the buyer will ALWAYS be at a LOSS in such a situation !

  3. Arslaan Mughal says

    Slaam you missed the most import thing for a used car i.e its body….

  4. Arcan says

    Just check the article title, u d*******Word ENGINE …….. used specifically

  5. Osama Saeed says

    You should also start mentioning in your articles that people should stop going by a cars visual condition or the cars mileage.. I have a 2000 Honda Civic and although it has over 240000 Kms on it it drives super smoothly.. We have kept the car maintained ever since we bought it never left something overdue.. People always go for low mileage cars which leads to sellers reversing meters.. Not only does it lead to dishonesty but the buyers also do not know what they are getting into thinking they are buying a really low mileage car.

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