As you may very well know, the engine is a crucial part of the car. Any damage to it can end up costing more than the car’s worth. Especially when buying used cars, inspecting the engine is important to understanding the car’s condition. So, here are 6 things to look out for in an engine when buying a used car.
1. Start the car
Does the car start on the first try? Did it take a while for the engine to start? If the engine sputtered a bit before starting or took multiple tries to turn on, there might be issues with the ignition or engine.
So if this does happen, be sure to get it checked with a mechanic to see the extent of the damage.
If you’re able to do so, another good way to check the engine is to start the car cold, meaning that the car’s engine is colder than its normal operating temperature when you start it. Starting the car cold can reveal a lot of hidden issues the car may have.
Watch out for any weird smells or noises if you cold start the car. If there are, you may be better off looking for another used vehicle to buy.
2. Burnt smell
If you’re smelling burnt oil, your engine might be leaking oil. This is usually caused by wear and tear in the rings and cylinders, which causes more gas to enter the crankcase. The pressure inside then increases, resulting in oil being pushed out through various seals, gaskets, including the PCV system.
This means that the engine isn’t in good condition and likely needs fixing, so be sure to note down any burnt oil smells.
While smell is one way to check for leaks, it’s not always a surefire way to spot them. One way is to check under the hood for any oil stains, but they’re not always visible this way. So be sure to check underneath the car and check the lower part of the engine and transmission.
If there’s any discolouration or wetness, it’s likely there’s some oil leakage.
The radiator is another thing you want to check when inspecting the engine.
Keep an eye out for any puddles that have formed under your parked car. A green or orange liquid may indicate a coolant leak in the radiator system, but do note that the air conditioning unit condenses water droplets, which is completely normal.
Check the radiator for coolant leaks by feeling the underside of the radiator and see if there are any whitish deposits or rust-coloured stains.
This may be caused by a damaged radiator, which simply requires a new radiator. However, a cracked radiator can also be indicative of other more serious issues, so be careful inspecting the car.
Honestly, the best option is to just find another used car if the radiator is compromised, or you may have to pay a heavy price to get the system fixed.
5. Performance mods
Performance mods are any modifications made to the car in an attempt to improve vehicle performance. However, if they’re done wrong, it can end up leading to many issues. Therefore, it’s important to ask the previous owner or dealer if the car has had any performance mods added.
If they have been added, be sure to consult a mechanic if they’ve been installed and run properly.
6. Engine noise
The last thing to look out for is engine noise. When you start the engine, make note of any rattling or clunking?
Here are some common engine noises to look out for:
- Ticking or tapping noise: this is likely caused by the valve train, indicating a low oil level, or the need for an oil change. However, it can also indicate some more serious mechanical issues, like the need for an oil pump replacement.
- Ping or knocking noise: it means that you’re experiencing improper combustion, which can be caused by an incorrect air-to-fuel mixture, using the wrong octane gasoline, or carbon deposits on your cylinder walls
- Clicking noise when you turn the ignition and the car doesn’t start: most likely a dead battery or the wiring of the starter is loose.
These are all important factors to check to ensure that the car you’re buying is in good condition.
At Carro, we aim to make our process as transparent as possible, which is why you can listen to how the engine runs on every one of our listed cars.
From the comfort of your own home, you can ascertain the quality of our cars yourself.
So why buy elsewhere when you can buy with Carro? Browse our inventory of cars here!