All Car Central Magazine

Your New Toy
By Geoff Wheatley

Lad Berkeley SE328 Roadster 1959

Your New Toy .... Buying that Next Car: by Geoff Wheatley

I know that the vast majority of owners are experts of their particular vehicle or even vehicles however, even though I claim to be one of them I have, from time to time, purchased a lemon that looks wonderful the first time I saw the car but once my check had been cashed various problems seemed to appear almost like magic! So in order that you seldom if ever have this same experience here are a few suggestions that could save you both time and money.

Bury your pride and take a fellow car buff to view the car, he or she may not know more than you but will tend to look at the car in a objective way while you are still a little starry eyed with the idea that this beauty will soon be yours! Make sure that you are the first one to start the engine, ( from cold), this will enable you to hear the starter motor at work and the way that the car responds to the starting procedure.

After running the engine for a few minutes take a look at the cooling water in the radiator. Is it still clear or has it decided to have a color change? If the latter you may have cooling problems any trace of oil is certainly a sign that all is not well and you could have a leaking head gasket, or worse! Take a look at the exhaust and see what color the smoke is. If it’s a touch white it may simply be condensation but black smoke indicated that the fuel system needs attention while a blue exhaust indicates an oil problem. This may simply be that the cylinder walls are slightly worn but it can also be serious if this blue display continues for more than a minute or two.

One of the most important things fitted to a car is its breaks so try and push the brake pedal to the floor; if you can you may have serious problems! Once the car is running put the car in first gear or if automatic go into drive and allow the car to travel a few feet then stop and put the car into reverse. If the response is positive that’s fine, if not you may have gearbox or automatic drive problems. There should be no normal problem in going forward or backwards!

Take a serious look at the tires to see if the wear is even both on the rear and the front where you ability to steer is located. The wear should be even on all four tires and you should check the depth of the tread. You can get some idea of the wear if you insert a quarter into the depth of the tread and the date under the head of Washington cannot be seen. It’s a touch crude but will give you a rough idea of how much tread you have left. Remember four tires can be expensive, and while you are in a tire mood look at the spare which should be fully inflated and ready for the road.

Electrics can be tricky and like other items expensive, check the wipers utilizing the screen washer while doing so. Try the lights in all positions and don’t forget the reversing lights and stop lights. Next the turn signals which despite what some drivers may think are not optional after market items but life savers in traffic. I never cease to wonder when drivers turn from one lane to the other and forget to use their signals expecting me to be a mind reader and know what they intend to do. It’s even worse on a traffic circle especially when they have no idea where they are going and neither do I...

Now for the big moment the Test Drive... Find a quiet section of road and shift into neutral and let the car coast for a mile or so. Look for wheel wobble and any steering problems, also any vibration from front or rear. Back into drive and set your speed at approximately forty MPH then accelerate slowly and see how smoothly the car responds to about sixty MPH. If you feel or sense any rumbling it could mean that the drive shaft needs attention and/or the rear drive box.

If it’s a convertible put the top up and then down. This should be a smooth operation for either a manual or automatic unit. Inspect the quality of the fabric for and tears or worse. Remember a new replacement top can be expensive and cost a lot more to have it professionally fitted. (No, you and your buddy cannot install a top on a Saturday afternoon no matter what the sales catalogue may say).

Finally look at the paint front and rear if it’s acceptable and shows no rust you should be satisfied. However remember a decent paint job can set you back four or five thousand bucks so again let me say, LOOK FOR ANY RUST

OK all seems well and you are ready to negotiate. Don’t be a smart whatever and offer some silly price, you should have done your research on the price range before looking at the car. A ten percent difference between your price and the seller usually seems to work. Put down a deposit say twenty percent with the balance when the car is collected. Get the details of the car for your insurance company and arrange a collection date. Now enjoy your new toy until something else takes your fancy, as I know it will.
Geoff Wheatley © 2016 Contact Geoff Wheatley


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