With COVID-19 hitting the economy so hard, some Asheville drivers are a bit hesitant to buy a brand-new car. Opting to purchase a used vehicle can save you thousands of dollars. However, you need to avoid buying a lemon. When shopping for a secondhand vehicle, auto repair shops warn you to watch out for these five red flags.
Discolored Motor Oil
Before even taking a test drive, auto repair shops advise used car shoppers to pull the oil dipstick. The color of the motor oil can reveal a lot about the vehicle. While it’s perfectly normal for motor oil to have a dark brown color, a black appearance indicates big trouble. The owner clearly didn’t make routine maintenance a big priority.
Milky motor oil is even more alarming. This is a result of antifreeze from the cooling system mixing with the oil. There’s a good chance that a blown gasket is the culprit.
Far too many people fail to notice smoke coming from a used car’s tailpipe. You can prevent a major headache by having an auto repair shop inspect the vehicle beforehand. Bluish smoke is especially common, which stems from oil leaking into the exhaust manifold. On the other hand, black smoke is caused by a fuel problem.
White smoke is the worst of all. It’s only a matter of time before the vehicle needs to be towed. A damaged cylinder head could be the culprit, thus requiring a complete engine rebuild.
Worn Timing Belt
Some used vehicles are designed with a rubber timing belt. This belt’s job is to keep the engine’s camshaft and crankshaft turning at the same time. If the timing belt suddenly breaks, catastrophic engine damage may occur.
The bad news is that many car shoppers have no knowledge of a vehicle’s timing belt. This is yet another reason why a pre-purchase inspection is so critical. An auto repair shop can give you a rough estimate of the timing belt’s life expectancy.
Bad Wheel Alignment
Never buy a used car that has a bad wheel alignment. Aside from causing premature tire wear, a bad wheel alignment could indicate a previous accident. A bent frame can be extremely difficult to straighten. Because the damage is underneath the vehicle, it’s easy to go unnoticed.
If the vehicle tends to veer to one side, this is a surefire sign of a bad wheel alignment. An uneven steering wheel also points to an obvious problem.
Engine Runs Rough
Ideally, an engine should run smoothly with no hiccups. When test driving a pre-owned vehicle, take note of rough idling. It’ll definitely need to be examined by an auto repair shop.
Rough idling is often caused by old spark plugs. As the electrodes start to wear down, the spark plugs can no longer fire properly. A vacuum leak can also cause the engine to run rough. Although the parts to fix a vacuum leak usually aren’t expensive, tracking down the leak can be difficult for the average backyard mechanic.