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What to Look Out For When Buying a 1000 Dollar Or Less Auto – Part 2 of 3 – The Test Drive
Whenever possible, I always like to take a car for a quick test drive. Of course, with cars under $1000, this may not always be a possibility. One important thing to note is that in our test drive we not only determine if we like the way the vehicles drive, handle, etc., we also look out for any potential mechanical issues that may have been addressed or included in our purchase price. purchase
So let’s shoot! Personally, I like to always leave the hood closed and after starting the vehicle take a quick drive to listen for any strange noises. There are often noises that you can only hear while standing outside the car rather than sitting in it. Note how easily the vehicle starts and starts. With the car running, watch the gauges, especially the coolant temperature. and oil pressure (if any). See if the check engine lights come on. With later model cars, if a check engine light comes on, many parts store chains offer to check the sensor that activates for free.
A good rule of thumb is to let the car idle until it reaches operating temperature. Often times vehicles will not show hesitancy or idle until they are completely warmed up. These symptoms can also occur when some vehicles are cold as well. Once the car is warmed up, take it for a spin. Now, of course, the more you can do the better, but it’s very understandable if an owner doesn’t want you to go full throttle or try to take the car on the road.
If the radio works, great, now TURN IT OFF! Remember that we are trying to look for and listen for strange noises and things out of the ordinary. Special areas to pay attention to are the steering feel (is it heavy? when you turn the steering wheel full stop, does the car hesitate or shudder?) the brakes and clutch (are they spongy? does the pedal go to the floor? hear any squealing or ground?).
When it comes to high mileage cars, the transmission is a very important item to check. If the vehicle has a manual transmission, note the feel of the shifter and how well it engages and disengages the car. Some vehicles by nature have a fairly sloppy shifting feel, but watch out for things like slipping out of gear or the clutch engaging too high on the pedal, this could mean the clutch is worn. With automatics pay close attention to how the car shifts. The things to notice are that it is changing very rough? Is it changing too slowly or sloppily? A special note for automatics is to check the transmission fluid level. This can be done just like the oil with a dipstick under the hood, but usually the vehicle should be at full operating temperature. first to get an accurate reading.
As you drive, observe the vehicle’s reaction to bumps and turns. Common suspension items that wear out are the shocks or struts, but also keep in mind that your suspension has a variety of rubber bushings that are also subject to potential wear.
Finally, this may sound silly to some, but you’d be surprised how many people neglect to test things like brake lights, turn signals, wipers, locks, how well the windows roll up and down, and various other items. . When you turn the car off after a few minutes, take a look under the car again to see if any new leaks or drips have occurred.
Now, the tips and things to inspect in this write-up are general purpose with all vehicles with the non-mechanically inclined buyer in mind. If you’d like to learn a little more about the things to consider on your specific vehicle, check out Part 3 of this series. where we will discuss how to obtain this information and where to find it.
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