Buying a used car can be both a great value and a bit of a risk. When the car changes hands, you might not know what sorts of potential or existing problems it has. A pre-purchase car evaluation from a certified mechanic will give you peace of mind about moving forward with the purchase. When you’re ready to close the deal, take the time to bring it into Big Jim’s for the all-clear.
What Do We Look At?
When we give your potential new car or truck the look over, we do a lot more than just kick the tires. Typically we’ll take the car for a short drive to listen for any strange sounds that only come alive when the car is in motion. We’ll examine the car for signs of rust that might be cause for concern or result in eventual repairs.
Other items we inspect include:
- CV Axles/Joints
- Oil Level and Other Fluid
- Structural Integrity
Tire Tread Wear and Alignment
You’ll want to know if replacing the tires will be the first thing you have to do when you buy the car. This is an issue for your safety, but also serves as a bargaining chip when it comes to the purchase price. So, we’ll check how much tread is left and for uneven wear, which can be a sign of an alignment issue. We’ll check the alignment when we drive the vehicle, too.
Spark Plugs and Wires
There can be a number of symptoms that signify issues with a vehicle’s spark plugs or their wires. The car might have trouble starting, the engine might misfire while running, or it might not accelerate properly. These are some of the things we’ll notice while driving the vehicle, but we’ll also take a peek under the hood and make sure the wires don’t show any breakage or corrosion.
Brake Pads and Rotors
The parts that make your car able to go from 60 to 0 are probably among the most important. If the brake pads or rotors need to be replaced, this can not only be detrimental, but an item to help you talk the price down. Again, some issues may be noticeable while driving the vehicle, but we’ll visually inspect the brake pads and rotors as well.
A booming exhaust may not be a deterrent to some car owners, but it could be the sign of a repair to come. This is something we’ll notice when the car is started as well as when we take it for a spin. The exhaust system can affect the integrity and power output of your engine, as well as emissions levels. You’ll want to have this okayed by the mechanic.
The CV axles are responsible for transferring power from the transmission to the wheels, which moves the car. Because of their role, they can experience a lot of stress and thus wear. These axles also have a joint on the end that allows continuous power while the wheels adjust to the road, these are know as the CV joints. Like so many other parts of a vehicle, repairs to CV axles or joints should not be delayed.
Oil Level and Other Fluids
The engine oil and other fluids in a vehicle are incredibly crucial to the overall health of its major systems. We’ll check these fluids and see if there are any issues that may be cause for concern. If there are, we will also examine the system it might affect for signs of damage.
A car’s structure is designed so that it will protect you in the event of an accident, right down to the windshield. Some vehicles might have compromised structure, so it’s important to have it inspected by a mechanic!
If the seller has service records, it's is a good sign they’ve taken care of the car and points to any repairs we can double check. These records will show not only that mileage maintenance such as oil change has been kept up, but that certain other vital parts have been replaced on schedule. This can include the timing belt, spark plugs, fuel filter, cabin air filter and engine intake air filter. If some of these things haven’t been done, it might signal that the car hasn’t been taken good care of over its life – but that’s why you can bring it to us!
- Overall car inspection
- Tires, treadwear / uneven treadwear; alignment
- Take it for a drive; listen for weird noises
- Wheel bearings
- Clunky sounds
- Review service records; timing belt, plugs, fuel filter, air filter, (bring receipts)
- Open the hood; plug wires
- Brake pads, discs
- Look for rust
- Structural rigidity of the car
- Exhaust system for corrosion
- CV axles/joints
- Rubber boot that covers the CV joint, if it’s torn it needs to be replaced
- Oil level and quality; fluid levels