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What to check when buying a Car

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Old 01-13-2013, 04:21 PM   #1
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Default What to check when buying a Car

THIS THREAD IS HERE TO INFORM YOU ON WHAT YOU NEED TO CHECK AND KNOW WHEN BUYING A CAR. THIS GOES FOR BUYING FROM A DEALERSHIP OR A PRIVATE OWNERSHIP!

Where do i start?

First things first, find out what model/trim you want. Before you even start looking for a car you need to figure out what model you want. Most people make the mistake of finding the cheapest/best deal Honda they can find than end up hating that model. What do you plan on doing with the vehicle? Do you plan on tracking it, Trailer Queen, Strictly street and grocery getter? This is important because some models/trims excel in different categories more than others.

DO YOUR RESEARCH! DON'T BE LAZY, THIS IS THE CAR YOU ARE GOING TO BE DRIVING!

I can't stress enough on how many friends/family members i have watched buy the cheapest Honda they can, than end up HATING that model/trim. Take the extra time looking around on Google or forum sites to find the model/trim that you fits your needs the most. Go to you local junk cars or friends and sit in there car, get a feel for what you will be working with. Is the car to small or you? Is it to big and you many something more compact? These things are important because although you can make any Honda fast, you also want comfort.


Okay I found what model i want, what now?

Well, before you go throw you money at the first Honda you find that fits your model/trim needs, find out a little bit about the car. Ask the owner if it has been in any crashes, how many owners it has had before him that he knows of, is there any problems with the car? Obviously the owner can lie, but there are truthful ones out there and it does not hurt to ask. Also checking up on the vin number(Via Car-fax or something in that genre) will check if there where any accidents or mishaps with the car that where filed and reported. This will not include any accidents that where hit and runs or any accidents that happened in general that where not reported.

So you ask why would it be important if this car was been wrecked? For example if a Honda has in a rear end collision and was not repaired correctly, then could lead to a weak rear end and failure of parts. This is something that can be easily noticed by doing a thorough inspection of the car.


Alright!, i found out as much info as i can on the car, can i buy it now!?


Now that you have found a good amount of info on the car this is a great time to do a through inspection of the car. Plan a meet-up with the owner of the car. ALWAYS take a friend with you that is well-knowledged with Honda's and Honda engines. I don't care how smart and knowledged you are with Honda's and their engines, "Two brains are better than one". It is VERY common for someone to miss a very expensive broken part or something seriously wrong with the car. This allows you to have 2 people checking 2 different sections of the car at once to check for any key parts damaged or broken. Here is a list of common parts to check when inspecting the car you are buying. CREDITS TO THOSE WHO ARE QUOTED FOR HELPING.

GENERAL KNOWLEDGE OF THE CAR

-How many miles are on the Engine? How many miles are on the frame?
This is great to know, because certain parts go out at key parts of the life of an engine. for example: After 200k+ miles oil tends to burn much faster when traveling.

-
Quote:
Originally Posted by Root16 View Post
Well, when buying a civic VX you always want to find out the condition of the o2 sensor since it's a $400 part. You can tell by how easy it is to tell when it's leaving and entering lean burn. Generally speaking, the easier it is to tell when it's going in and out of lean burn, the more tired the o2 sensor is.

Another good thing to look at carefully is the tires. If they are worn unevenly it can indicate suspension/camber and tracking issues.

You could be sly and say something like "I know you mentioned the car has overheated in the past, but how bad again did you say it was?" or something like that to catch the seller off guard. :p Because simply asking outright "has it ever overheated?" may not get an honest answer.
-Check the suspension
Is it bouncy?
Do the struts and shocks look good?
check the Tie down bar and tie rods to make sure there are no cracks or damage in them
Check your front and rear sway bars for the same.
When you sit in the car does the car lean? This could be caused by a very poor suspension, suspension going out.
Is the suspension stock? Or is aftermarket(If it's aftermarket, check and ask if it's name-branded or some Ebay knockoff.)
How are the CV joints/axles, these are EXTREMELY easy to identify if they are broken. While making any turn whatsoever you will hear a very loud clicking noise that is extremely noticeable.
What about the brakes? Have they been bled? Are they in good looking and working condition? What about the rotors? Is there any rust/grim looking material on the rotors showing that the car has been sitting. When test driving the car brake it hard at a stop to have any excess grim come on to show how new/old the rotors are.
Lastly ask the owner if he knows of any past issues with the suspension.

-Check the body/APPERANCE
Is the body nice and straight?
Is there any body work damage, Bonda cracking, scraps or rust? This is great to know because this is something you will have to pay for in the future.
Check to see if the radiator support is in good condition(These can be damaged very easily in a front-end collusion)
What about your basic front/back and side bumpers/kits. Are they stock? Aftermarket(Same with suspension make sure that it is not a EBAY/**** Knockoff. do all your fenders, hoods, bumpers, side moldings ect line up? This is an easy inspection and can easily spot faulty and fake equipment.
Check the exhaust for any cracks or leaks and if it is stock or aftermarket.(Don't need any more Mellon Cannons driving down the street)

Quote:
Originally Posted by grumblemarc View Post
First thing to ask yourself “Is the car clean?” Now I don’t mean clean as in “Man that car is clean!” I mean is the car not dirty? Does it look like it’s been washed and waxed regularly? Are the wheels caked with brake dust? Are the windows moldings dry and cracking? Is the paint still holding any of its original shine or is the clearcoat oxidized and/or flaking? Does it have any cheap Ebay lips, grill or any leftovers from the original Fast & the Furious? Has the car been repainted at any time? Paint all one color? If so was it a cheap Maaco job or was it painted professionally. Check to see that all body panels are straight and if any of them were replaced. Do all the lights work? Headlights? Signals? Taillights? Etc. Do the wipers work? Do the washer nozzles spray? Original headlights or cheap aftemarket?
Quote:
Originally Posted by beecee18 View Post
Check for original core supports still exist and are not crunched in and pulled back out,
Check for body seam-seal cracks on shock towers and other front clip areas for previous damage, along with general panel alignment.
-CHECK THE ENGINE!/Under the hood
I cannot stress enough on checking the engine THROUGHLY, don't half-*** it and check visually check it. Take you time and check all your houses, belts, parts ect. Turn on the engine and check for any Rod-knocks. Anyone on Honda-tech can tell you from experience Rod-Knocks are the worse you can expect from buying a car. Basically makes the engine no good. Check if there is any smoke or leaks coming from the engine. Smell around to check if gas or oil is leaking, this can lead to a MUCH bigger problem in the future. Ask the owner if he has had to change anything on the car since he has had it. Check your oil to see if it's low, if there is water in your oil, 9 times out of 10 it is caused by a blow head gasket. Do a FULL INSPECTION of this engine, as this is a car you are buying you NEED to know what's the pros and cons about it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by grumblemarc View Post
Is the engine bay filthy? Are there leaves and dirt covering everything? Is it grimy as if there was some kind of fluid leak and the mess never got cleaned up? Can you spot any leaks? Are there massive signs of rust? Do any of the parts look like they are original to the car? When was the last oil change? Last full tune up performed? Aftermarket intake installed? Check that the motor mounts are still intact. You’ll be able to tell if they are not when you test-drive the car. Is there an aftermarket header installed or is the exhaust manifold original? Check for cracks in either. Make sure all hose are in good condition. That includes those that carry fluids and those that do not. Check the condition and levels of all fluids. Check for any hacked up wiring. All needed O2 sensors in place? Any cheap HID kit installed? Is the radiator stock or aftermarket? Makes sure neither leaks. Is the radiator support bent indicating the car was in a accident?
-INTERIOR

Check the cluster, are there any codes? CEL,D4,SRS or ABS?[/B]
This is important to know. Ask the owner if he minds if you pull a few codes to find out with these lights are lighting up
HERE IS A FULL THREAD ON HOW TO LOCATE AND PULL ANY CODE YOU NEED TO ON YOUR MODEL/TRIM CAR
https://honda-tech.com/forums/honda-civic-del-sol-1992-2000-1/how-pull-cel-d4-srs-abs-codes-code-lists-1901557/

Quote:
Originally Posted by grumblemarc View Post
Interior
Does it look like a trashcan and smell like an ashtray? Are there any Ebay items to be on the lookout like a cheap steering wheel? Are any plastic pieces painted like we all did back in the 90s? Did any of the previous owners trying dyeing or painting any of the vinyl? Are there aftermarket seats and are they cheap Ebay variety? Were the seats swapped with those from another model Honda? Were the seat rails installed properly? Any rips, holes or tears in the upholstery? Cigarette holes/burns? As is one or more mounting bolts missing? Do all interior lights work? Is there an aftermarket deck installed? Was a proper wiring harness used to install it or were the wires hacked? Do the speakers work both front and rear? Has the wiring in the car been tampered with? If there is an aftermarket alarm or keyless entry, do they work correctly? Do all the gauges work? Does the dimmer switch work? Does the blower motor operate and actually blow air? If you have a trunk release does it work? Hood release as well? Are there any missing bolts or fasteners in the car? Do all the windows, power and crank, work properly? Check the floorboards for any moisture or mold. Check the trunk for the same. Are any of the doors misaligned? Do both hazards and defroster work? Clock working in the 5th gen? If car came with moon/sunroof check that it works properly and opens and closes without effort.

-Take the car for a ride
Is the suspension weak and bouncy whenever you hit a small bump or just in normal driving?
Does the car start RIGHT up without any problems?
Is the engine strong and sound good?
Are there any added performance parts added to the engine? NEVER BUY A TURBO'D HONDA, EVER! YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO IT BEFORE THEY WANTED TO SELL IT!
Are the gears nice a smooth to shift between? Do they grind?
Do all your basic turning signals, brakes, clutch, gas, hazard lights work fine without any problems?
Hows the interior? Is it tore apart or in good condition? This is great to know, because it tells a lot about the owner. Obviously Honda's are older, the interior will not be perfect.

Quote:
Originally Posted by grumblemarc View Post
[/B]Drive car rigorously. Get car up to operating temperature. Check that car does not overheat. Again, make sure all gauges are working properly. Make sure A/C is working if it is still installed. Make sure the heat works as well. Make sure car accelerates smoothly and shifts cleanly. See if car drifts to one side or another. If car is VTEC make sure it is working. Does car surge during idle? Does car take too long to reach operating temperature? Does car bounce excessively over bumps and uneven surfaces? Any CELs being tripped? Is the CEL properly working?
-What's going on under the car?
Quote:
Originally Posted by grumblemarc View Post
[/B]Look for ANY leaks whatsoever. Check all the bushings for rot, rips or tears. Grab hold of parts and try shaking them to see if anything is loose. Look for missing bolts/nuts here as well as any missing brackets. Is the suspension original or is it aftermarket? Are adjustable coilover sleeves installed? Can you tell if they are some unbranded Ebay junk? Are the shocks they are paired with stock or stock replacements? Is the car slammed to the ground? Check to see if the UCAs are hitting the tops of the shock towers? Is the suspension blown at any corners? If full coilovers are installed check that none are leaking. Check for cut springs. Brake pads need replacing? Rotors in good shape or do they have grooves in them that you can feel? Last time the rear drums were changed out/inspected? Check the tires for uneven wear or baldness? Is an aftermarket exhaust installed or original? Holes in either? Catalytic converter missing?

-Does the car have an alarm?
This is obviously not something that a car you are buying HAS TO HAVE but you do need to be fully aware of all security going on in the car. How many kill switches it has if there are any, are there any key chips that need to be put in to start the car, What type of alarm it has. This is good to know so when you get home with your new car you are not baffled and bewildered at why you can't start this car anymore.

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT WHAT ALARM THE CAR HAS OR NEEDS
https://honda-tech.com/forums/audio-security-video-27/car-alarm-guide-how-pick-out-security-system-meet-your-needs-open-2518715/

OKAY! I've find as much info as i can, I've done a FULL INSPECTION WITH A FRIEND, I've taken it for a ride. Everything is great! CAN I BUY IT NOW!?!?

Well now is a great time to find good social and communication skills. Ask the owner if he will go lower then what he is asking For example: If he is asking $3600 for his car, and it needs 600$ worth of repair that you could find on average. Offer him $2800 and explain to him it needs 600$ in repairs that you could find just looking around the car. No obviously not all owners will allow themselves to be low-balled and will say no right away and offer a higher amount. This can be a great turnout or the owner might get angry in return. Most of the time if you flash money in there face, cash in hand from a slightly lower amount. They will take the money and sign you over the title. Every dime you make can go towards upgrading and securing this car

ONCE YOU BUY THE CAR, PLAN OUT YOUR BUILD! Here is a thread explaining everything you need to know/do to have a very smooth build. This is a must to do and know, so you don't waste you money on pointless parts you don't need on your car.

https://honda-tech.com/forums/honda-civic-del-sol-1992-2000-1/building-your-dream-car-101-a-3102979/

Do you research on every single aftermarket part that is on the car before you go and check it out. You need to be educated on what fake equipment looks like and what the parts go for fake and real. I CANNOT imagine the list of people i can think of that have been ripped off by a lieing seller. Always be well-knowledged on the vehicle you are buying.

CREDITS TO ALL WHO HAVE HELPED/HELP THIS THREAD, Lets get this sticky-ed!



If you have any input or ideas that i can add just leave them below.

Last edited by PerfectionIsKey; 01-13-2013 at 06:44 PM. Reason: Adding quote
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Old 01-13-2013, 04:38 PM   #2
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Default Re: What to check when buying a Car

Skip all the paperwork stuff and Carfax can only report accidents that were reported. This is minor and not of paramount importance.

Stick to the 5th and 6th gens and list the physical things you want to look for when buying a car. I was in the middle of writing this very same topic but if you want to knock this one out, go for it.
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Old 01-13-2013, 04:40 PM   #3
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Default Re: What to check when buying a Car

Quote:
Originally Posted by grumblemarc View Post
Skip all the paperwork stuff and Carfax can only report accidents that were reported. This is minor and not of paramount importance.

Stick to the 5th and 6th gens and list the physical things you want to look for when buying a car. I was in the middle of writing this very same topic but if you want to knock this one out, go for it.
Alright, i added the paper work because it's a nice thing to have when buying a car. Also The carfax part is true, but it's nice to know if there was to say "Reported accidents" to know how many or if there were any. I'll clean this up and make it look much more nice, just wanted some more input, thanks for yours.
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Old 01-13-2013, 04:58 PM   #4
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Default Re: What to check when buying a Car

Well, when buying a civic VX you always want to find out the condition of the o2 sensor since it's a $400 part. You can tell by how easy it is to tell when it's leaving and entering lean burn. Generally speaking, the easier it is to tell when it's going in and out of lean burn, the more tired the o2 sensor is.

Another good thing to look at carefully is the tires. If they are worn unevenly it can indicate suspension/camber and tracking issues.

You could be sly and say something like "I know you mentioned the car has overheated in the past, but how bad again did you say it was?" or something like that to catch the seller off guard. :p Because simply asking outright "has it ever overheated?" may not get an honest answer.
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Old 01-13-2013, 05:08 PM   #5
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Default Re: What to check when buying a Car

Quote:
Originally Posted by Root16 View Post
Well, when buying a civic VX you always want to find out the condition of the o2 sensor since it's a $400 part. You can tell by how easy it is to tell when it's leaving and entering lean burn. Generally speaking, the easier it is to tell when it's going in and out of lean burn, the more tired the o2 sensor is.

Another good thing to look at carefully is the tires. If they are worn unevenly it can indicate suspension/camber and tracking issues.

You could be sly and say something like "I know you mentioned the car has overheated in the past, but how bad again did you say it was?" or something like that to catch the seller off guard. :p Because simply asking outright "has it ever overheated?" may not get an honest answer.
Thank you for the input, i will add in the form of a quote(I have the thread in another tab lol)
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Old 01-13-2013, 05:38 PM   #6
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Default Re: What to check when buying a Car

Here is what I had so far. Feel free to run with it.
What to check for when buying a used 5th or 6th (92-00) generation Civic.
This “guide” can only be used when dealing with stock or near stock cars of these generations. It does not cover “built” engines, turbocharged cars or hybrid swaps. It should by no means be considered complete or comprehensive. None of the following ranks in any order of importance and should only be used as a general checklist.

Appearance
First thing to ask yourself “Is the car clean?” Now I don’t mean clean as in “Man that car is clean!” I mean is the car not dirty? Does it look like it’s been washed and waxed regularly? Are the wheels caked with brake dust? Are the windows moldings dry and cracking? Is the paint still holding any of its original shine or is the clearcoat oxidized and/or flaking? Does it have any cheap Ebay lips, grill or any leftovers from the original Fast & the Furious? Has the car been repainted at any time? Paint all one color? If so was it a cheap Maaco job or was it painted professionally. Check to see that all body panels are straight and if any of them were replaced. Do all the lights work? Headlights? Signals? Taillights? Etc. Do the wipers work? Do the washer nozzles spray? Original headlights or cheap aftemarket?

Interior
Does it look like a trashcan and smell like an ashtray? Are there any Ebay items to be on the lookout like a cheap steering wheel? Are any plastic pieces painted like we all did back in the 90s? Did any of the previous owners trying dyeing or painting any of the vinyl? Are there aftermarket seats and are they cheap Ebay variety? Were the seats swapped with those from another model Honda? Were the seat rails installed properly? Any rips, holes or tears in the upholstery? Cigarette holes/burns? As is one or more mounting bolts missing? Do all interior lights work? Is there an aftermarket deck installed? Was a proper wiring harness used to install it or were the wires hacked? Do the speakers work both front and rear? Has the wiring in the car been tampered with? If there is an aftermarket alarm or keyless entry, do they work correctly? Do all the gauges work? Does the dimmer switch work? Does the blower motor operate and actually blow air? If you have a trunk release does it work? Hood release as well? Are there any missing bolts or fasteners in the car? Do all the windows, power and crank, work properly? Check the floorboards for any moisture or mold. Check the trunk for the same. Are any of the doors misaligned? Do both hazards and defroster work? Clock working in the 5th gen? If car came with moon/sunroof check that it works properly and opens and closes without effort.

Under the hood
Is the engine bay filthy? Are there leaves and dirt covering everything? Is it grimy as if there was some kind of fluid leak and the mess never got cleaned up? Can you spot any leaks? Are there massive signs of rust? Do any of the parts look like they are original to the car? When was the last oil change? Last full tune up performed? Aftermarket intake installed? Check that the motor mounts are still intact. You’ll be able to tell if they are not when you test-drive the car. Is there an aftermarket header installed or is the exhaust manifold original? Check for cracks in either. Make sure all hose are in good condition. That includes those that carry fluids and those that do not. Check the condition and levels of all fluids. Check for any hacked up wiring. All needed O2 sensors in place? Any cheap HID kit installed? Is the radiator stock or aftermarket? Makes sure neither leaks. Is the radiator support bent indicating the car was in a accident?

Under the car
Look for ANY leaks whatsoever. Check all the bushings for rot, rips or tears. Grab hold of parts and try shaking them to see if anything is loose. Look for missing bolts/nuts here as well as any missing brackets. Is the suspension original or is it aftermarket? Are adjustable coilover sleeves installed? Can you tell if they are some unbranded Ebay junk? Are the shocks they are paired with stock or stock replacements? Is the car slammed to the ground? Check to see if the UCAs are hitting the tops of the shock towers? Is the suspension blown at any corners? If full coilovers are installed check that none are leaking. Check for cut springs. Brake pads need replacing? Rotors in good shape or do they have grooves in them that you can feel? Last time the rear drums were changed out/inspected? Check the tires for uneven wear or baldness? Is an aftermarket exhaust installed or original? Holes in either? Catalytic converter missing?

Test Drive
Drive car rigorously. Get car up to operating temperature. Check that car does not overheat. Again, make sure all gauges are working properly. Make sure A/C is working if it is still installed. Make sure the heat works as well. Make sure car accelerates smoothly and shifts cleanly. See if car drifts to one side or another. If car is VTEC make sure it is working. Does car surge during idle? Does car take too long to reach operating temperature? Does car bounce excessively over bumps and uneven surfaces? Any CELs being tripped? Is the CEL properly working?

That's all folks.
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Old 01-13-2013, 06:16 PM   #7
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Default Re: What to check when buying a Car

What do you guys think about the thread so far? Anything i should add/change about how i went about it. Keep in thought this is my first Write-up on Honda-tech.
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Old 01-13-2013, 06:41 PM   #8
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Default Re: What to check when buying a Car

Check for original core supports still exist and are not crunched in and pulled back out,
Check for body seam-seal cracks on shock towers and other front clip areas for previous damage, along with general panel alignment.

Any try to stay away from resprays, expecially single panel blend jobs.

I would rather see all original sheet metal with aged original paint, then a wavy orange peeled macco partial respray bondo queen.
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Old 01-13-2013, 06:45 PM   #9
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Default Re: What to check when buying a Car

Quote:
Originally Posted by beecee18 View Post
Check for original core supports still exist and are not crunched in and pulled back out,
Check for body seam-seal cracks on shock towers and other front clip areas for previous damage, along with general panel alignment.

Any try to stay away from resprays, expecially single panel blend jobs.

I would rather see all original sheet metal with aged original paint, then a wavy orange peeled macco partial respray bondo queen.
Quote added, thanks for input.
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Old 01-13-2013, 07:46 PM   #10
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Default Re: What to check when buying a Car


Thread added to FAQs sticky.
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Old 01-13-2013, 07:48 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post

Thread added to FAQs sticky.
Thanks (:
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Old 01-14-2013, 03:17 AM   #12
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Default Re: What to check when buying a Car

Very nice.
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Old 01-14-2013, 05:51 AM   #13
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Default Re: What to check when buying a Car

Could add to 'take car for ride' to take it up to speed: does it rattle, shimmy, shake or anything like that or is it solid and smooth at highway speed?
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Old 01-14-2013, 06:11 AM   #14
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Default Re: What to check when buying a Car

If you let go of the wheel and the car swerves to the right, keep looking.
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Old 01-14-2013, 08:31 AM   #15
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Default Re: What to check when buying a Car

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Originally Posted by doctorake View Post
Very nice.
Thank you

Quote:
Originally Posted by Root16 View Post
Could add to 'take car for ride' to take it up to speed: does it rattle, shimmy, shake or anything like that or is it solid and smooth at highway speed?
Will add later on today, thanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by strategy400 View Post
If you let go of the wheel and the car swerves to the right, keep looking.
Yeah this would be a great thing to look for, it would have to do with your alignment. It's not all that bad of a fix, most shops will do it for REALLY CHEAP.
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Old 01-14-2013, 10:43 AM   #16
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Default Re: What to check when buying a Car

Great contribution, everyone. Here's a guide that I have referenced in the past: https://sites.google.com/site/hondalioness/buyingused

Another suggestion would be a link to this FAQ for those who do make their purchase and need to navigate the wild world of maintenance parts: https://honda-tech.com/forums/honda-civic-del-sol-1992-2000-1/%5Bfaq%5D-your-guide-buying-quality-aftermarket-maintenance-parts-your-civic-3114911/
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Old 01-14-2013, 02:41 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deschlong View Post
Great contribution, everyone. Here's a guide that I have referenced in the past: https://sites.google.com/site/hondalioness/buyingused

Another suggestion would be a link to this FAQ for those who do make their purchase and need to navigate the wild world of maintenance parts: https://honda-tech.com/forums/honda-civic-del-sol-1992-2000-1/%5Bfaq%5D-your-guide-buying-quality-aftermarket-maintenance-parts-your-civic-3114911/
thanks
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