How to Check a Used Car Before Buying (Checking the Engine)

How to Check a Used Car Before Buying (Checking the Engine)


hey guys chrisfix here I’m on my way to go inspect a used car that I’m interested in purchasing and I’m taking you with me after watching this video not only you’re gonna be more comfortable with going to check used car but you’re gonna know exactly what to look for so you don’t get stuck with a bad car the most expensive part in a car is the engine so in this video I’m gonna show you how to inspect an engine in a used car so you don’t buy a car with a bad engine now that being said in this video it’s gonna be impossible to cover every single thing the video would be hours long so what I’m gonna ask you guys to do is if you have any cool tips and tricks make sure you comment them below because I’m sure a lot of people are gonna want to read the comments and learn new things and read the tips and tricks that you guys have to share so that’s enough talking let’s go and check out the car we’re here waiting to see the car and there it is so let’s go meet the owner and inspect the car hey you doing Chris Frank nice to meet you Frank all right here she is so as you know I’m filming I want to film this so that people could know how to buy a used car this might take a little while but I’m a serious buyer so all the time you need if I could get the keys and check stuff out that’d be great are there any other keys we says this one now unfortunately that’s the only one okay that’s good to know ok let’s go check out this car all right we’re in the car we have the key and the first thing we’re gonna do and this is what I do with every vehicle I look at is we’re gonna use an obd – scanner and we’re gonna scan the computer of the car super-important I start off doing this because if the computer detects problems it’ll let me know and it’ll tell me okay well what are the problems and if there are too many problems it’s not even worth taking this for test drive or spending any more time looking at this car now the obd2 scan ports are typically under the driver’s side steering wheel there’s the brake pedal if we look upwards over here it’s gonna typically be right under here somewhere and then if you look over here on these Jaguars the scan port is right here and we’ll just plug this right in well take our key and we’ll start the car notice that there are no check engine abs or airbag lights that are on which is a good start and then we’ll go check out the app then we’ll go and read the codes and you can see here there are no confirmed codes but we have one pending code and if we look at our pending code right there it’s ap1000 code that’s the code you don’t want to see and the reason why you don’t want to see that code is because that means somebody cleared the check engine light and if you look on the dash here there are no check engine light codes there’s no lights at all so you’d probably think that okay good there’s no check engine lights then we’re good but guess what we just found that there’s a pending code because somebody cleared it I spoke with the owner about this you said he got his oxygen sensors replaced on this car and the mechanic cleared the codes and that is why I always use an OPD – scanner as the first thing to check in a car so now we could go and shut the engine and the next thing we’re gonna look at is the engine compartment so let’s pop the hood and you want to make sure that the hood struts could support the hood I hate when these things are weak and the hood can’t stay up so the first thing I like to do is just take a look under the hood just overall what does it look like we’re checking out to see the cleanliness we’re looking for any obvious damage leaked anything like that one thing I like to mention is if they detail this and they overly detail it they use armor on pieces you know everything’s all shiny it looks really good a lot of times that signifies that the car has a problem that they’re trying to hide so they cleaned it up you know they’re trying to hide an oil leak that you won’t see because they cleaned it in this case the engine looks like it should look for a hundred thirty thousand mile car you know it’s a little bit dirty but it’s relatively well taken care of and there’s nothing out of the ordinary that sends up any red flags if there’s nothing that catches my eye or looks out of the ordinary the next thing I’ll do is see if the frame is straight I start by looking where the fender bolts up and make sure it’s straight one of the hardest things for a body shop to do is make sure this is perfectly straight after an accident bends the frame so take a look at the fender and also where the fender bolts up to the front core support and that looks nice and straight next follow the core support across and you want to make sure the front core support is not bowed or creased and this looks good and you want to go to this side and do the same thing look at the fender line and where it bolts up and this looks straight now on this car the front bumper was damaged we saw that in the initial inspection so investigate you know you see this damage in the front bumper look under the front bumper to see if there’s any damage to the frame and right away I could see check this out I’m gonna pull this back this front crossmember here is bent inwards and there’s rust so that’s something that you really have to consider here if the front crossmember is bent inwards enough is this side or that side of the subframe bent inwards is the engine sitting right is the suspension sitting right that could affect the steering and many other things and if you’re unsure if there’s frame damage just walk away because it’s not worth the hassle down the road if you buy the car from what I could see this doesn’t look too bad and the damage is localized to this area plus the fenders look straight the engine sitting square at the frame and even the core supports straight so in this case I want to see the rest of the car and test drive it to make sure it drives straight next grab a flashlight and start inspecting for leaks but instead of spending most of your time on the top the engine let’s go underneath the car and the reason why we look underneath the vehicle is because leaks drip downwards and this is the quickest way to check for any major leaks and you just want to scan underneath look for any leaks any drips the transmission looks nice and dry if we look back over by the oil pan that looks nice and dry there is a little bit of oil on this catalytic converter but it’s nothing bad and I don’t see any major leaks we’ll check for more leaks once we get the car started the next place to inspect for leaks is the cooling system you want to open the cap to inspect but make sure the engine is cold now cars use different types of coolant but make sure it’s a bright color in this case we have red coolant so it’s bright red you don’t want to see any oil or brown sludge in here because that could indicate there may be a head gasket leak but this looks good now not all coolant leaks are visible if you have a head gasket leak inside your engine you won’t see that so make sure the coolant is filled to the proper level and this looks good and the next thing we’ll look at is the brake master cylinder and you can see the fluid through the plastic in this case the minimum line is here and the brake fluid is up to here so this looks good and you can just look around for leaks most of the time you’ll see any leaks right back here but this looks dry the next thing to check is the power steering reservoir and that’s right over here you want to check the fluid color and you don’t want to see dark fluid or specks of black this fluid looks good and it’s filled to the proper level so this looks good you also want to follow the power steering lines to the pump and check for any leaks but again this looks good the next thing I like to do is check the oil take the oil fill cap off and look underneath sometimes you’ll be able to tell if a car has a head gasket leak by looking at underneath the cat you’ll see like a frothy white oil almost like a milkshake or something like that up on the screen is an example of a BMW that I looked at that had a head gasket leak and I found it right away just by looking underneath the oil cap besides looking at the cap you also want to look inside the engine and you don’t want to see any froth or any sludge in there what sludge is gonna look like it’s gonna look like chocolate syrup and in this case this looks good and finally check the oil dipstick and make sure the oil is filled all the way in this case it’s right in the crosshatch area so that’s perfect the other thing is make sure it’s not frothy make sure there’s no metallic specks and if you see any of this just walk away it’s not worth it find another car because it could mean that you have a head gasket leak or your engine is worn out pretty good after checking the oil the other thing you want to do is you want to find the transmission dipstick if you have one and check the transmission fluid in this case it’s a sealed system so we don’t have a dipstick so you can’t check it but if there is a dipstick I have a really good video all about checking transmission fluid so you can watch that and learn more so the last thing we want to inspect are the hoses and the belts we want to go around the engine compartment and make sure that the hoses aren’t bulging they’re not cracked and they’re not brittle and the rubber looks like it’s in good condition and just go around and inspect the different hoses vacuum hoses coolant hoses and check all of them then after that we want to go and check the belts a good condition belt won’t look shiny it won’t have frayed edges it won’t have any cracks on it and when you press on it with your finger it’ll be pretty tight so the engines cold right now and it’s a good time to go and start the engine but make sure you watch the exhaust as it starts so let’s go start her up go ahead start her up and in this case we have no smoke which is good if you see blue smoke that could mean that your valve seals are leaking into the combustion chamber as the car is sitting here and then when you go to stop the car up you get a burst of blue smoke and then it goes clear now you want to ask the owner to rub the car a little bit can you rent the car up a little bit good so what we’re looking at we’re looking at the smoke to make sure that there’s no blue smoke a little bit of smoke came out but that’s just because the car just started and that’s condensation but if the car starts puffing white smoke that could mean you have a head gasket leak if it starts puffing blue smoke you could have worn out piston rings but in this case we’re good here’s an example of a van that’s burning oil upon giving the car gas blue smoke comes out of the exhaust and here’s another example of a beetle with the same problem so that gives you a good idea of what to look for make sure you do the same check when the car is warmed up as well because you might only get smoke when the car is warm now let’s shut the engine and move to the front of the car and have the owner started up again at the front of the car ask the owner to start the engine again and watch the motor for movement a little movements okay but you don’t want to see a lot of movement like this van engine because that means the motor mounts are worn out so ask the owner to start her up and that looks good again we’re gonna check for leaks using our flashlight but this time with the engine running when we have everything under pressure we’re more likely to find a leak so we have a couple things we want to look at we want to look at the cooling system we want to look at the master cylinder we want to check out the engine and he hoses the water pump look over here we got our ABS we got our power steering so just take a quick peek around and see what you can find and in this case everything is looking real good so week wise we look good the other thing you want to check is with the oil cap removed put your hand over the hole to see if there’s any pulsing of air right now I don’t feel any pressure or vacuum and there’s no smoke coming out if you have strong puffs of air and smoke the piston rings could be worn out and causing a significant amount of blow by and in that case the engine might be worn out that being said if you do get a light positive pressure or a vacuum that’s normal for some engines just make sure that pulses aren’t strong and there’s no smoke in this case the engine feels fine but it’s amazing how much information you could get just by looking under the oil cap and then finally while the engines running you’re just gonna be listening you’re gonna be watching you want to make sure that the engine isn’t vibrating significantly you want to show that the idle is constant it’s not revving up and down and it just sounds like it’s running well you don’t want to hear any loud ticking there’s gonna be little ticks because of the fuel injectors like but this sounds good this sounds normal so everything’s checking out and then after you go for your test drive it’s always good and I always suggest it again shut the engine off and start it up listen for it again do the same test check for a smoke check for that pressure because things change when the engines cold versus when the engines warm right now the engines warming up and then the last thing to do is ask the owner to shut the engine and then you’re gonna watch to make sure there’s no significant vibration there’s no knocking noise there’s none of that can you shut the car and that shuts right off so that was good to me this is one of the most important things because engine work and transmission where it could get expensive so I spend the most time here and on the test drive and everything’s just checking out pretty good right now so let’s move on to inspecting the interior or not and this just doesn’t want to close can you pop the hood okay so before we inspect the interior this hood latch is working but this hood latch over here isn’t latching and if we take a look under the hood this is why it’s not catching the hood cable this looks all rusted so I feel like this might need a new hood cable so I mean that’s just something that you see when you’re checking things out I want to go shut the hood and this doesn’t close on the Sun and that is definitely a problem so that covers most of the main things I look at when I inspect an engine in a used car hopefully the video is helpful and for the next video in the series I’m gonna go over some pretty cool tips and tricks for inspecting the interior of a used car many of the tips are things you wouldn’t think about but when you hear them you’re gonna be like oh why didn’t I think of that to get to that video you could click on the screen or find the link in the description

100 thoughts on “How to Check a Used Car Before Buying (Checking the Engine)

  1. Very nervous. I found a 2015 challenger R/T for 21,998 and my credit union said it’s worth around 27,100. Why is the vehicle so low? It’s a certified dealership, but the auto check and car facts check out as perfect.

  2. Even if I read the comment section it won’t be as much help as chrisfix just showing it to me visually

  3. Did you see the oil and dirt residual at the bottom? The oil was caked with dirt. It was slightly black. That is a leak that only happens when the car has been driven. Liquid expands when it is heated and it pushes the rubber gaskets aside.

  4. Oh, don't forget to check for worn brakes and rotors by checking the depth or cracks of the brake pads and feel the rotors and make sure there is not a deep indention.

  5. Always have said and always will say if you have limited mechanical/automotive knowledge/experience pay the money and take it to an expert, one which you pick not one the seller recommends. If you do have some experience then what this chap is showing is good. A few things I would add would be. Service history, is there paperwork available to view on it…? If there is none available then that is always a big alarm. Starting a car from cold. Again if an owner does not wish to allow you to see the vehicle from a cold start there are obviously issues around squealing/noisy belts and or engine knocking/Hard starts etc. Running your finger around the inside of the engine oil cap. If you do and your finger comes out with sludge, servicing has been poor. Underbody check. If you look under the car and there are any non factory looking 'touch ups' such as paint on the chassis or other structural areas its another big alarm. Driving test. Always on automatics do starts from D1 and shift through the gears accordingly. If there are any major clunks or hesitation as you 'manually' shift between the gears, service history has been poor on the trans. Also take the vehicle to an area where you are able to turn the vehicle sharply whilst driving at low/moderate speed to check for any excessive body roll. If vehicle seems to 'roll' and 'jitter' when doing so shocks are probably rough or even stuffed. Make sure you are able to brake heavily from moderate speeds to check how the vehicles breaks pull up under load. Excessive shudder means discs/pads or both will need servicing or replacement. I've more, but I will leave it at that. Hopefully this offers some extra tips

  6. In 2019, if you don't know how to check a used car you want to buy.. You are walking in darkness, and this is your wake up call. Don't go buy a new car, you might regret it in the long run 😉

  7. Thanks Chris.

    I don't know if you're a subaru guy at all, but if so – what model years of Forester should be avoided (due to design and very common major issues)? I'm considering a 2010 with just over 200,000Kms. I've owned several subaru's, one being an '04 or '06 Forester (I don't remember right now).
    Gotta see this car tomorrow.

    Thanks.

  8. These Jaguars from 2000 to 2005 are notorious for having the gas pump failing and the worst part is that that shit is 'INSIDE THE FUCEKN' GAS TANK' and get ready to waste $1000 for fix it because that's how much the freakin job labor cost from a mechanic, forget the ripoff dealers as those mofos will charge an arm and leg for the repair! Just avoid a Shitguar!

  9. I've sold about 600 items on craigslist and the customers that are skeptical , take forever, and ask a lot of questions even though I'm obviously being 100% honest with them, usually end up being a huge pain in the ass and complaining about some trivial detail or just being a general psychopath.

  10. 9:58 lol..i remember viewing a Toyota Hilux truck years ago. I removed the filler cap as she was running and it blew up onto the underside of the hood like an oil derrick…It pissed everywhere.
    i slammed it back down and fucked off.

  11. Great video that really goes above and beyond in educating the public. But consider nobody keeps a great car in most cases; everyone will sell a car needing $$$
    So chances are your car is going to need work. The trick is budgeting for it and buying something that was well kept. But that 7+ year old car will need work sooner or later.

  12. I love how when he started his channel he didnt care about showing him self. Now he hides his face every chance he gets

  13. What about testing the gearbox Chris….Jolt as you engage gears(especially when the engine's cold),Grabbing when you pull away(gets worse as the temperature goes up and also car does not move forward on release of the brake pedal)..All the signs of a totally knackered auto gearbox.

  14. You say "if you see this walk away"

    I hear "if you see this you are justified in lowballing the hell out of your offer and listing all the issues to the seller"

  15. Awesome video! I have been doing 99% of my vehicle work since I was 16 years old (I'm now 45, so ya, a while). You mentioned some things that I didn't know. Thumbs up, subscribed, and checked for notifications.

  16. I ask owner if they had ever changed the radiator fluid. If they tell me they change the fluid every Fall, I know they were a conscientious owner who probably took good care of their vehicle. But if they're fuzzy on why they're selling, I walk away, because they've discovered an expensive repair.

  17. The first red flag would be the cleared oxygen sensors!! Did they really make the repairs?? Did that fix the actual problem!?? Or are the catalyst converters bad or going out??? That could be expensive !!!! (: that's a big red flag!!!! Especially for a jag…

  18. I like your videos you’re doing a great job I can tell you’re not joking and you have a lot of experience. Thank you

  19. Don’t buy it 🙀⁉️⁉️It’s a Jaguar,, their made to break down,, Pommy Gremlins 👎🏼👎🏼🤣😂👾👾👾👿

  20. Add in the car battery. Too many times the battery goes out on me and I buy a used vehicle especially the 2013 Ford Taurus Motorcraft battery.

  21. WHAT AN ABSOLUTE PLONKER. The white sludge on the oil filler cap is condensation, NOT head gasket. I would recommend learning how a car works before advising others on what to look for.

  22. If you don't know what you're looking for or at, no you tube video will change that. Best bet is to bring it to a qualified shop and pay a nominal fee to check it out. Do NOT go anywhere the owner recommends and don't go to a chain store either. Get results in writing.

  23. Revelation 1 (KJV) – ራእይ
    7: Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
    8: I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.Acts 4 (KJV) – ግብሪ ሃዋ
    12: Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.John 3 (KJV) – ዮሃንስ
    16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
    17: For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
    18: He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
    19: And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.John 14 (KJV) – ዮሃንስ
    6: Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
    7: If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.Romans 10 (KJV) – ሮሜ
    8: But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
    9: That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
    10: For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

  24. Almost made the mistake of getting a car with creamy residue under the oil cap. Luckily I had someone with me who knew to look for these things. Its definately good to look for these things

  25. This guy just needs to go buy a brand new car unless he's paying top dollar for used car that's hit in the front. It's a used car hood latch won't mean anything. Nice video did she going to buy my car I'll take it to a mechanic to plug in a scanner I would not let you plug anything into my car. Because there's a hundred other customers that won't do all of that LOL. I will tell you I'm not selling the car no more and sell it to somebody else

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