vw golf gti, vw corrado and vw polo tuning and styling - with Matey-Matey

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Things to Look For When Buying a Second Hand Car :::

[Part 4]

» Worn Valve Guides

Check for blue smoke from the exhaust on full throttle as this can indicate worn valve guides. A good way to check for worn valve guides is to get the engine up to temperature, then on the test-drive drive the car as gently as you possibly can for a few miles [in the highest gear possible] then drop it several gears and floor it. 

If you see plumes of smoke which then disappear after a few seconds then you be confident that you've got some tolerances adrift somewhere along the line, this will probably be valve guides in a Golf, but it could of course be piston rings or bore wear so think the worst in terms of further negotiations…

Listen for any funny noises from the engine, rattles are often loose heat shields but should be looked into further. Any whines are likely to be bearings, which could be in the alternator, or the water pump. The car should stop without much fuss and if there are any vibrations then the discs are likely to be warped or scored.

Manoeuvre the car on full lock and listen for clicking/clonking noises which usually indicate worn CV joints. When cornering listen for grumbles, which could indicate a worn wheel bearing on the loaded corner. Feel for vibrations when driving in a straight line, as these could indicate worn CVs, or maybe a worn ball joint. Such vibrations usually get worse with speed unlike a balance problem, which is normally speed specific.

Check the action of the clutch and gearshift. Any gearshift problems are likely to be a dickey linkage but be wary, as they could be more serious. Play in the lever probably indicates worn linkage bushes (£30). After driving the car switch it off and then start it again to check the hot start characteristics, which on cars with mechanical fuel injection (K-Jet) can often be very problematic.

Check the handbrake comes on and locks the back wheels properly and comes off again to allow free movement.

» Decision Time

Now it's probably time to weigh up the pros and cons and decide whether to buy the car. The above pointers are general tips you'd do well to apply to buying any car regardless of it's make.

Above all take your time, do not be rushed by the vendor and look at everything methodically. With older cars there will always be faults, and you need to know about them to make an informed decision. Do not pre-judge the car until you have seen it and do not let the owner talk you around the car's faults. The evidence is in front of you, all you have to do is open your eyes and see it

If you like the car then we would strongly recommend that you spend £30 on an HPI check before parting with your money. This will check the cars details and cross-reference them against those from DVLA, Police and insurance company records. This SHOULD pick up whether the car has been written off in the past, stolen, or has any outstanding finance due. Not only will this help you decide whether to proceed with the purchase but it will help you sell the car in a few years time by providing peace of mind to prospective punters.



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