How to check the condition of a used car before buying


This time on Road and Race how to quickly
check the condition of any car A friend of mine asked me to check to see
if the second hand car she bought was ok. Here’s my guide to giving any car a quick
“once over. The car is 4 years old and has done 64,000
miles. I am using the Haynes manual for reference
on service intervals. I like to start with a quick look at the Service
Book to see what work has been done. Here we can see the oil and cabin filter was
last changed at 18,000 miles. That 3 years and 46,000 miles ago. For this car the recommended change interval
is every 15,000 miles or 2 years whichever comes first so an oil and filter change is
overdue. The cabin filter should be changed yearly. The only other service was a change of brake
fluid a few months ago. So let’s check the engine oil level. Here we can see it’s below the minimum level
so needs topping up desperately. Not surprising though as this car is well
overdue an oil change. Coolant level looks fine as you can see the
bottom orb. Using the coolant tester we can see that the
colour isn’t brown or murky so looks good. 5 discs are floating so that means it won’t
freeze unless it gets down to -37 centigrade so here in the UK I’m sure that’ll be
just fine. What we can’t check is the anti-corrosion
levels of the fluid which will wear out between 2 to 5 years. The change interval for coolant in this car
is 4 years. The air filter is kept in this housing and
this side looks fine so I’ll just have a look at the other side “ Ah, that’s quite
quite dirty!”. This needs changing. The service internal is 45,000 miles or 6
years. Also a quick vacuum up of the dirt in the
filter housing wouldn’t hurt. Hard to see the belt properly without removing
things. No obvious signs of cracks or wear but can’t
be sure. The change interval is 4 years and as this
is a cheap part it’s worth replacing now. The brake fluid reservoir is under this cover. The level is just before the MAX line so is
fine. Colour wise it’s hard to tell but the Service
Book says it was just changed a few months ago so should be fine. Moving to the side of the vehicle we’ll
have a quick visual inspection of the brake pads. Obviously without taking the wheels off we
can only see one of the two pads but the thickness of the one we can see is fine. You should have at minimum of 2 millimetres
left and here you can see we’ve at least 10 or more. All other pads we could see on the car were
fine too. So, measuring the tyres the fronts have 6mm
of thread on them, and the rears have 3mm. The legal limit in the UK is 1.6 mm but bear
in mind that below 3mm grip in the wet will get progressively worse so it’s worth considering
replacing the rears. So let’s check to see if they’re properly
inflated. Looking at the overly complicated label for
the front wheels, we’re looking for 205/50 R17 which if used on the front wheels carrying
up to 4 people is 2.2 bar And measuring the pressure at the fronts we
1.1 bar and 1.5 bar. So only half inflated. Onto the rears, 225/45 R17 the pressure should
be 2.6 bar. On checking we get 1.6 and 1.6 again. So underinflated as well but at least consistently
underinflated. I’m plugging a wifi based cable into the
OBD port and using software on my iPhone to scan for engine fault codes. None found, which is great. A quick way to test your suspension is to
drive over speed humps. The car should bounce once then settle like
shown. If it keeps bouncing then there is probably
a problem with your shock absorbers. This car is fine. So here’s a summary of my findings: The engine oil, cabin filter, coolant, air
filter and engine belt all need changing. The brakes and suspension are fine and there
were no engine faults detected. The tyres need inflating and the rear tyre
threads are getting a bit low. I’ve rattled though the items here so if
you’d like more detail about a topic or if you are looking to do any of the work yourself
I have full episodes and step by step guides on most of these on my channel. Click the Suggested box at the top to access
them. The car used is a Porsche Boxster but the
principles apply to any car. Next time on Road and Race
Coolant. What is it? What does it do? Why are they’re so any different types? Is it safe to mix different brands? How can I tell if it’s gone bad? And what happens if I it’s never changed? All these questions answered next time. If you’ve found this video useful please
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22 comments

My rule of thumb: If a car is equipped with cheap tires in relation to its value – just walk away. The previous owner was not willing to spend money on the car, which was not visible to his neighbor.

How did you get the camera in to see the brake pads? I would like to utilize this same method to quickly check a 986 Boxster.

That's E81, not E87.
Also, how do i get recommended tire pressure if my sticker destroyed? (I own BMW E87 LCI 2007 120D)

that car has a N47 engine, which has a built-in manufacturing problem in the timing chain, which means 2000-3000€ service. Just walk away.

Thanks alot I see this video over and over from time to time very helpfull.. can you make a video how to change oil or service this car yourself?

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