Used Car Lot Walk Around
When you enter a used car lot it is a good idea to view all of the cars on the lot. Are the vehicles on the lot properly cleaned and detailed? Look over the paint on the vehicles and see if the dealer has an autobody. Many dealers that have an autobody on the premises can purchase crashed vehicles at low prices and resale them at full price.
Look over the tires on the autos in the lot, are they bold or warn? Look over the rims and make sure that they are straight, man cars have bent wheels and can be a costly replacement. Make sure during the test drive you take the vehicle on the highway to feel for unbalanced steering and tires. Many dealers try to pawn off unsafe vehicles on to unsuspecting customers, the result can be not passing state inspection or injury.
Check Engine Light
A malfunction indicator lamp (MIL), commonly referred to as the "Check Engine Light" is an indicator of malfunction of the computerized engine management system. It is found on the instrument console of most automobiles. When illuminated, it is typically either an amber or red color.
On vehicles equipped with OBD-II, the light has two stages: steady (indicating a minor fault such as a loose gas cap or failing oxygen sensor) and flashing (indicating a severe fault, that will eventually destroy the catalytic converter, such as a misfire).
When the MIL is lit, the engine control unit stores a fault code related to the malfunction, which can be retrieved with a scan tool and used for further diagnosis. The malfunction indicator lamp is usually labeled with the text check engine, service engine soon, check engine soon, or a picture of an engine
What the Light Means
The "check engine" light is part of your car's so-called onboard diagnostics (OBD) system. Since the 1980s, computers increasingly have controlled and monitored vehicle performance, regulating such variables as engine speed (RPM), fuel mixture, and ignition timing. In some cars, the computer also tells the automatic transmission when to shift.
When it finds a problem in the electronic-control system that it can't correct, the computer turns on a yellow warning indicator that's labeled "check engine," "service engine soon" or "check powertrain." Or the light may be nothing more than a picture of an engine, known as the International Check Engine Symbol, perhaps with the word "Check." In addition to turning on the light, the computer stores a "trouble code" in its memory that identifies the source of the problem, such as a malfunctioning sensor or a misfiring engine. The code can be read with an electronic scan tool or a diagnostic computer, standard equipment in auto repair shops. There are also a number of relatively inexpensive code readers that are designed for do-it-yourselfers.
If the check-engine light comes on, here are some tips on what you should do:
- Look for a serious problem that requires immediate attention. Check your dashboard gauges and lights for indications of low oil pressure or overheating. These conditions mean you should pull over and shut off the engine as soon as you can find a safe place to do so. On some cars, a yellow "check engine" means investigate the problem, while a red "check engine" means stop right now.
- Try tightening your gas cap. This often solves the problem. Keep in mind that it may take several trips before the light resets. Some vehicles have a separate indicator that warns of a loose gas cap before the condition sets off the "check engine" light.
- Reduce speed and load. If the "check engine" light is blinking or you notice any serious performance problems, such as a loss of power, reduce your speed and try to reduce the load on the engine. For example, it would be a good idea to stop towing a trailer. Have the car checked as soon as possible to prevent expensive damage.
- Have the code read and the problem fixed. If you want to diagnose the malfunction yourself, you can buy a scan tool at most auto parts stores. Prices range from about $40 to several hundred, depending on the model and the features. The tools come with instructions on how to hook them up and decipher the codes. But unless you have a good knowledge of automotive diagnostics, you're probably better off taking the vehicle to a professional. Some automotive parts stores will read and interpret the code for you without charge. Unless there is an easy fix, they may simply refer you to a mechanic.
- Don't go for a state emissions test. In a late-model car, an illuminated "check engine" light probably is a sure sign your car will fail the test. In some states, it's an automatic failure, even if the problem was nothing more than a loose gas cap. By the way, don't bother trying to fool the inspection station by disconnecting the battery or using any other method to erase the trouble code and turn off the "check engine" light. Your vehicle's computer will let the inspection station know that its codes have been erased, and you'll just have to go back again.
Automotive Photo Tutorials
One of the biggest problems with vehicle classifieds is the photographic presentation.
Usually it is terrible, remember that a "picture is worth a thousand words" and if the photos are terrible, the words will be "four letters". Use photos to your advantage and take as many as you can. Use angles and kneel down when you take the photos of your vehicle. Most people purchase buy vehicles because of their sleek lines and looks. If you do not show them off you can potentially be losing a sale to someone else.
That is why at AutomotiveAdBuilder.com offers our clients 40 Photographs for their postings.
Watch our photo tutorials video for more information or download a paper version of our AutomotiveAdBuilder Photo Tutorials PDF.
Buying a New Car?
So you decided on purchasing a new vehicle, how does one run with some mileage? A vehicle is one of the biggest investments you can make in life. Keep in mind it's also a time commitment, many people will drive a vehicle for many years. The big question is "How will it hold up in the years to come?" One way to find out is to test drive a pre-owned model that you are thinking of purchasing. You can do this at your local dealership or a used car lot, another option is to rent the vehicle if applicable at your local rental agency.
The best way to find out "what to buy" is speak with the service department of the model you wish to purchase. Many mechanics and service writers can stear you the right direction of your next purchase better than the sales team. Keep in mind, if you choose the wrong vehicle you will be spending a lot time in service!
Purchasing a Vehicle
- During the excitement of purchasing an auto we tend to forget the basic details of the vehicle and the seller. Whether you are on the phone or in person use our Printable Vehicle Inspection Sheet to help you remember all the Automobiles you will be inspecting.
- So you made the phone call and asked all the right questions, now your at the vehicle location what to look for? AutomotiveAdBuilder Buying Guide.