Vehicles are among the most expensive, if not the most expensive single item anyone will acquire in their lifetime. They range from a few hundred thousands to hundreds of millions of Naira; they are a necessity as well as a sign of affluence. They could make your journey pleasurable or miserable. They malfunction, and you perspire, even in an air-conditioned room owing to the fact that your wallet is on the verge of being dented ( how huge, is subject to various factors).
Some people save up, some have to negatively affect their bank accounts (no matter how huge), while some go out of their ways, to acquire them. It however is tragic that very little attention (if any at all) is paid to the process of acquisition, especially the things that matter most.
As much as aesthetics of a vehicle is/are important, smoothness, comfort and reliability (to a large extent) is the primary function of every vehicle.
You will agree with me that, a vehicle equipped with automatic climate control system, satellite navigation system, 22″ reflective spinners as wheels, xenon headlamps, factory installed DVD player with 18speakers surround sound system is as useful as a piece of scrap metal if the engine isn’t running or the transmission is not allowing for movement.
I’m also sure that at this juncture the need to ensure that a vehicle is acquired in a near-perfect condition cannot be over-emphasized. The question remains, how do you fulfil all righteousness in ensuring the purchase of a useful vehicle?
Here are some pointers:
- If the deal you’re getting is too good to be true, it most likely is. Do a market survey to get the average cost of your choice of vehicle to use as a guide.
- Do some research about the make, model and year of manufacture of the vehicle in relation to peculiar problems and history of recalls (as is the case for some brands lately).
- Worn brakes pedals and wear marks on gear knob as well as saggy driver’s seat and carpet is an indication that the vehicle has done more than 60,000miles/100,000Kilometers. If the odometer indicates otherwise, beware! A low mileage vehicle in these conditions must have been abused by the previous owner.
- High mileage vehicle with very neat interior and body, but worn pedals, that shows signs of wear on the driver’s seat is usually an indication that, it has been well maintained to pass emission tests (MOT). Honest buy, though may require a tune-up.
- Very dirty engine (especially with oil stains) may indicate abuse and lack of maintenance while a very clean engine might be a way to disguise oil leaks and engine problems.
- Check the engine dipstick. Black oil is a sign of excessive emission/fuel consumption and or poor maintenance culture by previous owner. Beige or mayonnaise like colour is a sign of cylinder head gasket leak.
- Rusty-red coolant in the radiator or its reservoir is a sign that parts of the cooling system, especially the water-pump impeller is rusting and wearing off.
- Listen to engine from start-up. Heavy rattling noise may indicate cam-shaft wear and, or low oil pressure (weak oil pump)
- Rev the engine sharply (not to the red-mark on the tachometer). Listen out for stutter or hesitation.
- Immediately after starting the engine and after some minutes of idling, check exhaust for smoke. Black indicates poor emission/fuel economy. Blue and or White indicates, worn Valve oil seals/engine wear.
- Observe that the engine idles smoothly without causing excessive vibration in the cabin area. Rough idling indicates misfiring, while excessive vibration in the cabin indicates that the engine and or transmission mounts have lost their integrity.
- Keep an eye on temperature gauge and warning lights (Malfunction Indicator Lamps). Temperature should hit the half mark within 10 minutes of the engine running, while lights (most importantly, SRS/airbag, ABS/antilock, Check/Check Engine/Service Engine Soon, as the case may be) should all come on when the ignition is open, and go off at most 10seconds after the engine is started.