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The KwikGuides to: checking a used car
checking the outsidechecking the insidechecking the oily bitsprint out a checklistback to index



checking a car for faults

checking the inside

Now turn your attention to the inside. And first off, have a good sniff. Cigarette smoke? Pets? Open the ashtray for smoking evidence.

More seriously, a musty or mouldy smell could indicate water leaks. They can be hell to find and fix. Have a good feel of the carpets right up to under the pedals and under the seats. Pull them back if you can. Definitely lift up the floormats to check for dampness. Similarly check the rubbers around the windscreen for mould. If there's any doubt, find another car.

KwikTip: always get a car insurance quote from Direct Line too,
as they don't take part in the price comparison websites.

Seats: sit on them all, even if you don't intend to sit in the back. The driver's seat may be more worn, but there certainly shouldn't be any sagging, rips or bad wear on a car that's supposed to have low miles on it. If there are covers, peel them back and have a look underneath. Look out for not-so-obvious cigarette burns, which can turn into rips and tears very quickly.

Try all the seat adjustments including the steering wheel height/reach adjustment to make sure you can get into a comfortable driving position.

Clues to high miles: whatever the milometer may say, here's a few clues to high miles. Steering wheel: is it shiny or covered? Peel any cover back and take a look. Gear knob: shouldn't be shiny and worn, or too new. Pedal rubbers: a car with low miles shouldn't show much wear. If just the clutch pedal is worn in particular, it may mean the owner is in the habit of riding the clutch, straining both clutch and gearbox. Rubber worn through in spots is an indicator of high miles and if they're all new, it should give you pause for thought. Instrument panel: are the screws which hold it in loose, scratched or rounded? If so, the panel's been out. Do the numbers on the milometer line up? An indicator that it may have been wound back. Are the numbers scratched or painted over? Wear on the driver's seat is also a big clue - it's more expensive to replace. Is it covered? Are there many chips on the nose of the car and have there been an excessive number of owners? Of course, any one of these things could have a rational explanation, but add up the clues.

check all the handles and locks.

Sunroof: tilt it and/or wind it back. Jump out and examine around the edges or the sunroof while open. Rust, ripped rubbers or seals could lead to water leaks and annoying wind noise while driving.

Alarm: if fitted, ask the seller for a demo to see if it works.

In the boot: use your nose as well as your eyes here too. Sniff and look for signs of water entry. Pull back the boot floor covering to have a look for moisture or rusty metal underneath. Examine particularly around the spare wheel recess and the joins between panels to the sides of the boot floor. Push down on the boot floor - listen for any crunching noises or movement from the edge joins. Check the spare wheel - is the tyre inflated, what is its condition? Is everything necessary there to change a wheel - jack, handle (if separate), wheel nut spanner.

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checking a car for faults: the oily bits >>


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