Start by walking around the car from a short distance away, taking in its general
condition. Is it standing level or sagging to one end or side? Could be a
Bodywork: check each body panel and the roof
for scratches, paint ripples, dents or rust spots. Look for unusually large gaps
between panels, or gaps that vary in size down the length of the join. For example,
does one side of the bonnet fit tighter than the other? More than likely a panel
has been replaced sometime.
always get a car insurance quote from Direct
as they don't take part in the price comparison websites.
colour and finish of the paint should be the same everywhere. Mismatched colours
or stray paint on the rubbers around the doors and boot, on wires and hoses under
the bonnet or inside the front or rear wings, on the boot floor or under the petrol
flap mean a respray, most likely due to accident or corrosion. Cracked or ripped
rubbers will lead to water leaks, drafts and wind noise. See if there are any
stone chips on the car's nose, which points to lots of miles.
car will have minor cosmetic flaws, but the real danger is rust. It gets worse
very quickly. Look particularly for blistered paint or rust spots around the wheelarches,
door bottoms and bootlid. Use your torch to have a good look inside the wheelarches.
If you can see plenty of rust, you can bet there's plenty more underneath where
you can't see, which will need expensive welding repairs in the near future. Walk
& tyres: These will tell you a lot about how a car has been treated. Turn
the wheels as far as possible each way to get a good look at the tyres. Wear should
be even across the tyre - same on the left and right of the car. Aggressive drivers
put more wear on the outer shoulder of the tyre, at the edge of the sidewall.
If that's badly worn, assume the car has been hard-driven. Check there's plenty
of tread left - you might need this as a bargaining tool later. Examine the sidewalls
for scuffs, cracks or bulges and look at the wheel rims for dents or cracks. Dents
in the rims mean they've been driven hard into a curb or pothole. It's another
indicator of a hard-driven car, and the suspension could well have been damaged
the torch to peer through the front wheels at the brake discs. Don't worry about
traces of surface rust on the discs, but they should be smooth with no deep grooves.
Damaged discs indicate contact wth the caliper when the owner has continued using
the car with low or expired brake pads. It's a sign of neglect, and those grooves
will mean future pads will wear down much quicker.
look carefully for scratches and cracks, especially on the windscreen. It's expensive
to replace and some cracks and chips within the sweep of the wipers could fail
the MOT. Small cracks can grow worse very quickly. Also check if the window are
etched with the car's number plate and...is it the same as the plates on the car?
suspension: bounce each corner of the car. Any creaking? Does the bouncing
stop quickly? If it keeps bouncing more than once or twice, it'll need new shock
absorbers. Use your torch to look up the length of the shocks - can you see any
fluid leaks evident down the side? If so, they'll need replacing, and that's not
a cheap job.
Grab the top of each type and tug it back and forth. Do
you hear clunking or feel any play? There could be a problem with the wheel bearings
or suspension joints.
enlist the help of your friend to ensure they're all working: side and headlights
on main and dipped beam, indicators, fog and brake lights. In particular check
the light lenses for cracks, chips or moisture - new headlight units can be surprisingly
are they creaking or loose? It might be they've had plenty of use or been yanked
open too violently by the wind sometime. Worse, they (or the bodyshell) could
have been bent out of shape by accident damage.
check the disc. Is it genuine? Does it say the right number plate, car make and
model on it?
a car for faults: the inside >>