Performing a Car Inspection On Your Own

performing car inspections

When buying a car, especially a previously owned car, it is important that you inspect the car before making the purchase. A car inspection before buying the car will prevent you from having unforeseen problems (and bills) later.

While there are various organisations which you can contact to assist you with your car inspection, it is possible to do this on your own. In this article, we will offer you a five-step process that will help you to conduct a car inspection on your own.

Step 1: The Car Details

When you begin with the inspection of the vehicle, it is important to take note of the following particulars:

  • Body type
  • Make and model
  • Vehicle’s registration details
  • Year model
  • Mileage

Step 2: Inspect the Car’s Exterior

The next step of the inspection will be the exterior of the car. Make sure to check the following:

  • Condition of the car’s body: Inspect each panel of the car, including the roof. Make a note if there are any dents or scratches. Also, check if the paint is the same colour and texture on all the panels. Open all the doors of the car, including the hood and the trunk of the car. Inspect all the rubber seals on the windows and doors.
  • Windows: Check for any cracks, chips, or holes in all the windows of the vehicle. While cracks or holes can grow larger over time, which will be costly, any chips can be used in the bargaining process of buying the car.
  • Suspension: When inspecting the suspension, ensure that the car is on even ground. This will help you to see whether the car is sagging or slagging to any side. To check the condition of the shock absorbers, push down any corner of the car. If it’s still in good condition, there will not be any rebound. If you pull on the top of the front tyres and feel any movement or hear any clicking sound, it might be that the suspension joint is broken.
  • The frame of the car: You should never purchase a car if the frame is in any way damaged, which is why this is a vital part of the inspection! To check for damage, open the hood and locate the saddle (the front fenders are connected by the saddle, which also holds the top of the radiator). Make sure that it is not welded but rather bolted. It should also be free of any scratch marks.
  • Lights: Test out all the lights on the car, including the headlights, taillights, signal lights, brake lights, backup lights, and interior lights. All these reflectors and lenses should not be damaged or fogged with moisture.
  • Tyres: If you want to know if the tyres have been replaced, check to see if all four tyres are the same during the car inspection. The wear on the tread of the tyres should be the same across all four. During the inspection, check the condition of the spare tyre and if the tyre-changing tools are there. An important thing to remember when inspecting the tyres is that a car with around 30 000 kilometres should still have its original tyres on. If a car has new tyres but low mileage, it could be an indication that the clock was rolled back.

Step 3: Check the Interior

When doing a car inspection, the interior of a car is just as important. Here is what you need to focus on:

  • Look for any stains on the seats, upholstery, or roof of the car.
  • The steering wheel mobility.
  • If the seat belts are all in working condition.
  • If the radio has a CD or USB port, and if they are in working condition.
  • The charged fire extinguisher.
  • If the aircon is in working condition.
  • Check any other additional functions – to do this turn the car on and see if any lights go on the dashboard that might be of relevance to your car inspection.

Step 4: Thoroughly Inspect the Engine

When inspecting the car’s engine, it is best to do it when the car has cooled down. Here is what to look for:

  • Engine bay: While dust is normal, oil splatters should concern you. Check all fluid reservoirs for any leaks and ensure there are no cracks on the belts or that they are drying out. The radiator hoses should also not be soft.
  • Oil and transmission oil: There should be enough oil when testing the dipstick. The head gasket might have a leak if there is foam in the oil filler cap. Inspect the coolant, as this can also lead to pricey repairs later.
  • Transmission dipstick: When testing the transmission dipstick, the fluid should be a pink or red colour but can sometimes be darker when the car is older. This fluid should never look or smell burnt. Lastly, it should be full.
  • Shock absorbers: Make sure that these are not leaking.
  • Brake pads and brake lines: Inspect the amount of wear that these have and make an informed decision accordingly.

Step 5: Test Drive the Car

After you’ve finished steps one through to four, it is time to take the car for a test drive. In this step, you can test the following:

  • The brakes: There should be no vibration on the pedal, squeaking sound or strange noises. when you stop it. The car should also not pull to the side.
  • Shaking: The car should not shake when driving slowly. This could be problems with the steering or suspension.

Finally, always ask for the car’s service history so that you know that the car is up to date with its repairs and services. If you are unsure if you will be able to conduct a car inspection, take someone who knows and understands cars to help you make an informed decision.

Alternatively, contact Bosch Car Service Pretoria for your car diagnostics test, and be sure that the car you are driving is in a safe and roadworthy condition:

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