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September 5th, 1999 Article
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To continue on with used vehicle tips and what to look for when shopping for another vehicle.

8. One last thing on the outside before we move inside. Start the vehicle up to see how easy it starts and don't listen to any BS. About it taking so long to start "Because it hasn't run for a while." If it is a later model fuel injected vehicle it should start in just a couple of turns of the starter motor. Just let the vehicle sit and run, so it can warm up and while it is doing that step back a few feet to get a good overall look at the vehicle. (Move it out of it's parking spot if necessary.) Walk all around it looking for possible slight differences in the paint finish from one panel to another. Look at it from the front and back to see if the vehicle sits level or if it leans one way or the other. Now bend over and "SMELL" the exhaust. If you get a real sulfur or rotten egg smell, that could suggest a Fuel System problem.
OPINION: Mis-matched colors from panel to panel can mean it has had body repairs done. A vehicle that does not sit level may have a suspension problem.

9. "OPP'S I just about forgot. While the vehicle is running, try and listen for any exhaust leaks too.

10. Now it's time to start looking inside but before you get in, feel the carpets in the front, rear and From both sides. If the vehicle has Mats, feel under the mats. If the carpeting feels damp, it can be a sign that the interior was shampooed and not dried properly. This can lead to, at the least a musty smell in the vehicle and at worst, premature rusting of the floor area.
Opinion: Many Clean-up shops use way too much water when trying to clean a real dirty carpet. (Because water is cheaper than cleaning chemicals.) However, if the underlay gets too wet the only way to dry it is to take the WHOLE THING out of the vehicle and let it air dry. (Usually takes a couple of days.)

11. Here is where you are going to need some help. Ask someone to stand behind the vehicle so that you Can check the lights on the rear. Do the brake lights FIRST and pay attention to how far the brake pedal travels on the first push. Now pump the pedal TWICE to see if it uses less travel after the pedal was pumped. If so, this could be a sign of brake problems. Now ask the person that is watching the lights if both brake lights seem to be the same brightness. Keep you foot on the brake and check the signals both ways and they also should be the same brightness on each side. Put the vehicle into reverse to check the back-up lights and if everything is OK, put the vehicle into park or neutral and take your foot off of the brake. Turn on the headlights and check for all lights being on, including the License plate lights. But, now step on the brake AGAIN and turn each signal light on again and have your friend tell you if everything appears as it had before. Now have your friend walk to the front to check the front lights and don't forget to try the high beam lights.
Opinion: I won't try to explain why I was suggesting this method of checking rear lights except to say that it can show problems in the turn signal, ground problems and lights not connected properly.

12. Now try EVER control switch in the vehicle, wiper/washers, heater blower and controls, A/C if Equipped etc and make notes of anything that doesn't work properly. The vehicle will now also be warm enough to be able to read the gauges to see if they APPEAR to work. If the vehicle has manual windows, have your friend help by rolling each window down and back up again, but if they are electric, check them from the drivers switch PLUS the switch on each door.

If the vehicle has passed inspection this far, it is time to go for a test drive and I will get into that next week.

"TOOT" Rick "The Wrench" - September 5th,1999
Copyright of Rick The Wrench, 1999

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