Most people don’t go for used cars because of the stigma that they have. It is perceived that all used cars are unreliable, problematic and a burden on your wallet. But it’s unfair to say this of all pre-owned cars because major problems only come about when you buy a lemon. As such, in the name of upholding the honour of second hand cars everywhere and to make sure you stay clear of crappy cars, here are five tips you need to keep in mind when going secondhand.


Tip1: Avoid the cut and shut

A cheap way to get an engine swap done is by carrying out what’s known as a cut and shut. The entire front end of a car needing an engine swap is cut off from the main chassis and one from a donor car (with the desired engine and internals) is welded in its place. It’s a common method used by modders and chop shops as a cheap way of boosting performance or repairing a car that has been involved in a major accident. Avoid these cars as once this procedure is carried out, the body’s structural integrity is no longer what it was and in the event of a collision, won’t be able to effectively absorb an impact.

Spotting such a job isn’t tough, look for welding work carried out near the fire wall and front fenders.


Tip2: Engine bay looks corroded

If the engine bay and the components in it look fairly rusted or more so than the rest of the car, chances are it has been submerged underwater at some point in its life. It’s best to walk away because though there are no signs right now, they will surface eventually.


Tip3: Blue smoke from the tail pipe

Start the engine and rev it a few times while someone watches the smoke exiting the exhaust pipe. If the smoke is blue in colour, the engine is burning oil. That’s a sign that all is not well inside, most probably due to worn piston rings. In most instances, a top overhaul of the engine is needed. Unless you are willing to shell out the dough for repairs, do yourself a favour and walk away.


Tip4: A sound gearbox is a healthy gearbox

Whether it be an automatic or a manual transmission, you need to make sure that you are able to slot into every gear easily. Trouble to do so may spell problems later on if no action is taken. While it may not be expensive to put right if it’s a minor issue like worn bushes or a worn clutch, it’s best to not to take the risk.


Tip5: Meters and switchgear should be fully operational

If you want a daily driver and aren’t willing to put in the hours to restore the car, avoid buying one that has faulty electrics. Especially when it comes to the meter cluster and switchgear involving windows and side mirrors. Motors and wiring harnesses aren’t cheap to source and install.

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