I will try to answer the original poster's question which indeed
needs to be taken seriously. I will state what little I know. Others
are welcome to correct me, where I am in error and add their
own valuable insights.
Corrosion usually starts near the bottom and works itself up.
Check the wheel wells, under the doors. Inside the lip of the
boot, under the spare tire, the hood, etc. Ask the dealer if it's
been re-painted. If yes, the car may have been in an accident.
In that case, you will find welding marks inside the doors, boot,
hood that may tell you how severe an accident it really was.
You may also need to take out the carpeting and look at the
foot wells for welding. In that case, the car may be a goner.
Old cars will have worn-out rings/pistons inside the engine.
Check the mileage of the car. If it is nearing 160K kilometers
it is in for an engine overhaul (rings re-machined & pistons
If smoke is coming out of the car's exhaust, if the engine
makes knocking sounds upon acceleration, if you can see
dark oil deposits either beneath, or inside the engine, it all
may allude to engine problem(s).
03. Suspension, Strut, Ball-Joints, Shocks, Etc
Press down on the hood and boot of the car. Ideally, it
should go down and come up --slowly, in a controlled
fashion. If it isn't responsive, or bounces, shocks are gone.
Take it for a ride on a bumpy street. If you can feel the pot-
holes up your spine, shock problem. If the car falls into a
pothole and spins (slightly) either to the right or left and
momentarily seems to go out of yrou control, you have
suspension problems. Beware.
04. Radiator, Generator, Hose Pipes
Take the car out on a drive, with the A/C on full. Watch
the temperature gauge. It should stay behind the half-way
mark. Does the car start on the first attempt ?. If it takes
more than a couple of tries, either the battery or generator
(previously called dynamo) is failing. Open the hood and
look at the radiator. Is it rusty ?. Touch the coils. Are they
crumbling ?. Do they look clean and open, or nearly closed
with dirt & grime ?. Feel all the rubber hose pipes inside
the engine. They should feel supple and pliable. If they
feel dry, stiff (like paapRi) they can spring a leak anytime.
05. Boots, 'Kenchi', Muffler
Underneath the engine, to the sides, are steering rods
that control the wheels. To protect the ball-bearings, they
have rubber boots (look like accordions) on them. If they
were ever punctured (which is quite often owing to the dirty
KHI streets) dirt can get inside and mess-up the ball bearings.
To check the boots, take the car for a spin. Make sharp right
and left turns. Pull the steering all the way to the right & left.
Can you hear a "kut-kut-kut" sound ?. If you do, beware.
Another thing is the 'Kenchi". It's a triangular piece that
connects your wheels to the body of the car. Hoist the car
on a jack and check them for rust & corrosion. If the car
has been poorly maintained, these 'kenchis" can break off
and cause a terrible accident.
Mufflers are the exhaust for a car. There is a long, winding
metal tube which carries the exhaust from the engine all the
way to the back. Hoist the car on a jack, get underneath
and inspect the pipe & muffler for rust, for damage.
06. Interior, Rubber Packing, Clutch, Brakes
Watch for any wear & tear on the rubber packing that goes
around doors. It's pretty expensive to replace. Makes sure
the seats aren't torn (they usually hide them under covers).
See everything works inside the car, from the cig lighter, clock
instrument panel lights, etc.
Clutch plates easily wear off under a bad driver. See at
which precise position does the clutch engages with the
engine. The deeper the engage/disengage, the more worn
the clutch-plate. Same with the brakes. If it is soft and only
works past the half-way point, then either it needs new brake
shoes or re-adjustment. Put on the handbrake. If it takes
more than a couple of clicks to engage, it also needs to be
07. Gear Box
There has always been talk of car dealers putting wood
shavings in gear boxes of older model cars. That way, for a
few months they can make the gears seem smooth. But after
the shavings stop working, the gear box falls apart. There
really is no way to check for it. A mechanic may guide you
I think that's about all that comes to mind right now. Others,
if they feel so inclined, may shed more light on this important
Sheikh 'Baleela' Chilli