::: Things to Look For When Buying a Second
Hand Car :::
Specific Models: Mk 1
General age: Because even the latest cars
are over 20 years old most of the mechanicals and bodywork will be tired
and should be inspected closely. Mileage will be high (even 7k a year
will give a total of 140-160k) so be wary of anything which claims to be low
mileage and demand proof. Service history will almost always be
non-existent but a wad of dated receipts should suffice.
Rusty Filler Neck: These were mild steel
and are very prone to corrosion. Rust drops into the tank and blocks up
the injection system causing running problems. Stick your fingers as far
in as they'll go and have a good feel. Chunks coming off in your hands
is a bad sign - assume the worst and bargain!
Worn Valve Guides: The engines are
generally strong but high mileage units are prone to worn valve guides
which show themselves as blue smoke from the exhaust. A head rebuild is
Rattling Trim: The Mk1's trim was never
as well screwed down as that on later cars so do not be surprised to
encounter a few rattles.
Overpriced Campaigns: The run out model
was known as the Campaign and people often add Pirelli wheels and claim
that the car is a "campaign" to get a bit more for it. Do not
pay more for it even if it is, and check other points to confirm
authenticity. They had green tinted glass, a sliding steel sun roof, a
leather steering wheel and usually an EW chassis number - check this
great site for the full low down!
Interiors: These are rare due to the
car's age, replacement interiors are hard to find in decent condition so
be cautious about cars with very tatty interiors unless you plan to
spend some money.
Corroded Alloy:, Corroded alloys often
become porous and thus allow air to seep from the tyres so check the
condition of the wheels, the tyre pressures and tyre wear as before…
Bad 16v Conversion: It is common to
replace knackered 8v engines with the Mk 2 16v engine but be wary of
botched conversions using equally tired Mk 2 engines.
Crap Brakes: The Mk1 had awful brakes
and so this is normal (within reason). See here on how to uprate them!
Tatty Bodywork: Replacement body panels
are cheap and easy to come by so do not be put off by a few dents and
scratches on the bits that look like they'll come off. Most cars of this
age will need a bit of tidying up. Do be wary of cars with dented roofs
and rear ¾'s as these are structural and are much much harder to
replace. Look for rust at the bottom of the doors, bottom of the spare
well, where the rear panel joins the boot floor, at the bottom of the
front wings and around the pinholes where the trip strips fit along the length
of the body.
Hot Starting Problems: K-Jet injection
systems run at very high pressure and are prone to running problems.
These problems are often caused by corroded fuel lines, faulty
components and pressure leaks / inconsistencies. Specifically, when the
engine's hot fuel can evaporate / boil in substandard lines, if the
system is not retaining residual pressure to combat this, you will have
to crank the engine on the starter for ages to purge the air!
Non Factory Sunroofs: These are prone to
leaks and cannot be removed so steer clear of cars with these if
Faulty MFAs: The MFA (Multi Function
Analyser) often breaks and these are expensive to repair, taking a
chance on a second hand unit is often the best bet. You must decide how
important a functioning MFA is to you, before buying the car.
Tired Oil Pumps: On the 8v engines these
were a weak point. They fail due to neglect / lack of frequent oil
changes and can disintegrate causing a major engine failure. If you are
doubtful as to how well the car has been looked after then we recommend
changing this as a precautionary measure (£40 + fitting).
Knackered Hall Sender: This lives in the
distributor and dies from old age. When it gets hot it will cause the
engine to run erratically. The only solution is a replacement dizzy
which will set you back £150.
Pinking: The K-Jet engines were designed
to run on 4 star with high octane. In order to run them on unleaded you
must retard the timing by 6 degrees to prevent pinking. If the owner
claims that it runs fine on unleaded then ask what he did to achieve
this. Retarding the timing will dampen the performance. The ultimate
solution is to fit as device which will map the timing for you i.e.
K-Star, V-SAM, or Superchips Icon.
Clutch Cable Rubbing On Bulkhead: The
clutch cable often wears through its mount and cuts into the bulkhead.
This will impair the clutch action and can cause the cable to snap. The
only solution is some expensive welding.
Noisy Fuel Pumps: This is normal.
Door Damage: These cars are very easy to
break into due to the door catch design so look for damage around the
door handles and beware of armoured doorplates, which can hide previous