You don’t wanna buy a dodgy motor – damaged, stolen or a rust bucket. You can buy a second-hand motor from a car dealer, a private seller, at an auction or even online. If you buy from a dealer, by law you can expect some sort of guarantee. If it’s a private sale, you’ve got very few legal rights.
“Back in 1963 when I was starting out at the Barnet Press I bought a tatty old Hillman Minx car for £2, it was cheap because it had a battered wing,” says football commentator John Motson. “But when I started driving it the police pulled me over and I ended up in court for driving with dangerous parts. I was fined a fiver, which was twice as much as I’d paid for the b***** car.”
Wherever you buy, there some things you must check, so you don’t end up with a deathtrap or a stolen car. Remember, take it on a test drive for at least an hour. Remember you need to be insured to test drive.
Here are 10 things to check:
1. VIN plate: is it real, fake or tampered with?
2. Sound of the engine: it shouldn’t be noisy; that means it’s worn.
3. Exhaust: shouldn’t be belching blue smoke. Get the seller or friend to rev hard and watch the fumes.
4. Gears: shouldn’t be stiff.
5. Seats and trim: do they look worn? This could mean the car’s done more mileage than the seller claims.
6. Knobs: every switch should work, from wipers to electric windows. If something doesn’t work, find out why.
7. Bodywork: panels shouldn’t be wonky. If they’re not straight, the car’s had a bad repair job. Check by running a £1 coin down the ‘coachlines’ between the doors and panels, if it doesn’t fit easily all the way down, this could be an indication that work has been done on the body and could be a ‘cut and shut’.
8. Paintwork: shouldn’t be pockmarked or have drips. That means a dodgy respray.
9. Oil: shouldn’t be dirty, black or at a low level. That shows poor maintenance.
10. Tyres: tread shouldn’t be uneven. This could mean the steering’s badly adjusted or the car’s been thumped in a crash.