What to look for when buying a used car. blinx's official guide


blinx9900

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A user asked me what I look for when I buy a used car, I typed so much I thought I should just make it a thread so everyone can benefit from it :nice: feel free to add any suggestions or tips that you use.

First I walk around the car and look at all the joining panels to see if they all line up properly, then I walk around again to check for dents, and repair work. I also check to see if the car has been repainted, this is most obvious in the area where the hood hinges are, if you look at the hinges with the hood closed you can see it there. I also look at the brake rotors and run my finger nail across them (assuming they are COLD) to see if the rotors are worn or have deep grooves in them. Check the headlights to see if they match, there usually a little foggy, it should be the same on both.

I then check the trunk area, you can usually tell how well someone took care of the car by looking inside the trunk (aka boot) if it’s clean with clean carpet that’s a good thing. I then check the inside and first look at the back seats, like the trunk the back seats are a good indicator of how the car was taken care of, I then look at the front seats to see how worn out the driver seat is, or if there are any stains (from smoking eating etc...) I look at the mileage and then I look at the clutch gas and brake pedal to see if the mileage and the condition of the pedals are similar, for example if you see a car with 50k miles on it with pedals very worn then it may have had the mileage rolled back.

I also open the hood and look inside the engine bay, like the trunk the condition of the engine bay is important, you should ask yourself:

-Is it clean?
-Are there any leaks?
-Is it stock or modified?
-If it has the stock air box check the panel filter for dirt or even worse oil! Oil on the panel filter could mean you have a bad PCV valve which is not a major issue but it’s certainly something you could use to negotiate for a lower price because it looks a lot worse than it really is :)
-If modified are the parts cheap or quality?
-Check the oil, it should be clear or a very light brown. A dark brown color indicates the car was driven hard or the oil was not changed on time, failing to change the oil on time even once will forever cause the oil to be a dark color, even when it’s fresh.
-Check the axle (aka CV) boots to see if they are torn, or of any of the ball joints are leaking/worn.

Now its time for the test drive:
First I drive the car normal, I go through all the gears, I pay attention to how the trans/clutch feels, and the gear box should not be too clunky. I try to drive next to a wall so it will reflect back any noise like exhaust leaks and such. then I drive the car hard first gear all the way up to redline then second then third, if the second to third gear shift is smooth with NO grinding then its safe to assume the trans is in good shape because most Honda trans will wear out 3rd gear first (see notes on bottom of page for more info on third gear) which is first to fail. Also pay attention to how much noise is coming from the gearbox there should be almost none, if there is any whining or howling then there maybe gearbox problems or perhaps the proper oil was not used during maintenance which is BAD. Also howling noises can also be caused by damaged trans bearings which are caused by continuous high rpm shifting. also the last 1000rpm should be smooth, it should not feel as if the engine is struggling.

After that I like to find a coldesack (dead end street) and drive the car in a full circle with the wheel at full lock in each direction, this is to test the axles to make sure they are in good condition or to make sure the wheels don’t rub on the car (which could be caused by an accident and cheap repair), the axles should not make any noise, if you hear any clicking/popping/clunking the axles are bad.

Other points added by forum users:
Check the wheels and tires:
Are the wheels scratched?
Do they have curb marks? this could affect suspension alignment
How are the tires?
Are they worn?
Are they all the same make and model? if some tires are of another brand, or cheap tires this may be an indication of how the owner cared for the car, perhaps he used cheap oil and low grade gasoline as well.

Third gear info:
It’s not just civic's that have weak 3rd gear, the gear change from 2nd to 3rd is known as "the hardest shift known to man" its the hardest on gear box and its the hardest to do properly, rx-7's have minor 3rd gear issue as well, and like the civic its not really because of a weak gear but more because the nature of the shift and driver abuse that causes 3rd gear to wear prematurely.
 

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blinx9900

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Wow, that's pretty informative essay!! :wow: I give you an A- :clap: Is that enough?
lol, im sure i would have gotten a c- if it was school assignment, my spelling and grammar are horrible, but im actually an excellent writer when i try:nice:
 


ManosEK9

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lol, im sure i would have gotten a c- if it was school assignment, my spelling and grammar are horrible, but im actually an excellent writer when i try:nice:
I give you an A- for the content, a C- for the structure and a 10 points upgrade!! :shocked: :clap:
 


Danny_B16B_R

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Nice one mate ill be printing this when the time comes to get mine having a nightmare trying to sell my own car!!! :(
 



vtecroadhog

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Brill...:thanks: many other little things too. Finding a mint car is not easy however not impossible... this write up IS vry helpful. :nice:

Checking the state of the rims & tyres is another thing i tend to look...:blabla:
 


blinx9900

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Brill...:thanks: many other little things too. Finding a mint car is not easy however not impossible... this write up IS vry helpful. :nice:

Checking the state of the rims & tyres is another thing i tend to look...:blabla:
excellent point, all add that to the write up :nice:
 


Dino-Spumoni

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Open the valve cap, look into the engine for a sort of caramel amber tarnish on the cast aluminum, this is a sign of oil not being changed frequently.

If applicable in your area, check for rust. Most used cars from areas with a cold winter will have rust. The more miles on the car, the more rust.
Rust makes working on the car more difficult and its expensive to fix rust on the body, to replace rusted parts like engine bay brackets, and to replace rusted bolts. Pay special attention to the rear wheel wells for rust.
 


blinx9900

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Open the valve cap, look into the engine for a sort of caramel amber tarnish on the cast aluminum, this is a sign of oil not being changed frequently.

If applicable in your area, check for rust. Most used cars from areas with a cold winter will have rust. The more miles on the car, the more rust.
Rust makes working on the car more difficult and its expensive to fix rust on the body, to replace rusted parts like engine bay brackets, and to replace rusted bolts. Pay special attention to the rear wheel wells for rust.
you mean open the valve cover? cause i dont think most people would let you do that, do cars really rust in 10years? i like in a hot place so i dont know. i know older cars rusted a lot easier cause they were made from cold rolled steel and cars now are made from high strength low allow steel.
 


Dino-Spumoni

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I'm sorry, I meant oil cap. You can see the inside the top of the head from there.
Cars most defenately can rust in 10 years, especially if the climate has long winters where they put loads of salt on the roads.
 


Blindman

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Hey, great guide!:) I know people who could really benefit from reading that.

Here's a trick for testing clutch wear I picked up somewhere. Lock up e-brake and put the car in 5th gear. Let off the clutch slowly as you lightly press the gas. If the car trys to pull against the e-brake, and the rear end drops a bit, the clutch is in decent shape. If it doesn't, or does it in jerks, there's some slippage happening.

BTW, the third gear thing. I agree completely, I've had three civics, and third is always the first to have problems.
 


kagetora01

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Hey, great guide!:) I know people who could really benefit from reading that.

Here's a trick for testing clutch wear I picked up somewhere. Lock up e-brake and put the car in 5th gear. Let off the clutch slowly as you lightly press the gas. If the car trys to pull against the e-brake, and the rear end drops a bit, the clutch is in decent shape. If it doesn't, or does it in jerks, there's some slippage happening.

BTW, the third gear thing. I agree completely, I've had three civics, and third is always the first to have problems.
i see...so third gears wear out easily....how you would fix that, if its wear out? do you need to change the whole tranny?
 


GekKey

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I also bring a flashlight with me, take off the oil cap and check inside the valve cover... if theres oil/dirty on the valve spring...

another thing i check is the engine code, make sure its the right engine that is in the car, and mentioned in the add. Someone can try to sell you a car with type-r/sir emblems (type r would be obvious to know cause of red valve cover but still). Also... there is 9 vin (if im not mistaken) on the civic. Make sure they're ALL the same.. espcially the engine... it could be a stolen engine, and my egine being taken by cops and not refund would really piss me off (at least its how it works in canada)

Also, check the compression, make sure its even in all cylinders. While you're at it, check the sparkplug condition.... if theres no chip (porcelain missing).
Note: IF the sparkplug electrodes are white, means the engine has taken hard acceleration, "flooring" the gas pedal.

Theres also the timing belt to check, see if its worned, make sure the dents are lined up, the stiches on top as well.

Well, all for now, will put pictures and other info about worned/hard use when i get back home.

AAAAAh, ask ALOT of questions, over and over, when you talk the to person who sale it, ask him at different intervales the same question, but just reformulate it, see if his story matches, when u see stuff get a little different or sounds fishy, clear them up or maybe avoid buying this car.
 



Gee

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Nice.

For us UK guys, ask if it has been undersealed also!
 


Fin

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this is rly helpful! ne other tips before i go to get my own ek9! gettin it durin the week:)
 


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