Consumer Advice | Part II | Want To Buy A Car? Here’s How To Examine The Engine

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Welcome to another episode of Consumer Advice. If you are a non-car person planning to buy a used vehicle, then we have some great tips for you. In the first part of this guide, we gave away some very helpful tips on how to examine the exterior of a vehicle. Click here to read the advice!

While buying a used vehicle always take note of the repairs and important upgrades you will be performing! This practice will give you an idea about how much you will need to spend and does the additional expense still keeps the vehicle in question worth buying? Just to give you a slight idea, a vehicle which requires complete body work, paint job and a new set of tires will very easily cost above PKR 60,000. The same goes with suspension and engine work. That’s a very high price added to the vehicle’s cost and this is the reason why we need to be careful while buying a used vehicle.

Let’s see how we can inspect the vehicle’s engine and other parts in the engine bay:


In my personal opinion, “first impression is the last impression” works quite good when it comes to buying a used vehicle. Any car having a clean and original exterior is more likely to have the same story inside as well. Maintaining a vehicle close to its original form is a passion and the world is filled with car enthusiasts. But still, we should do our inspection according to the check list.

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We can start the inspection by firing up the engine. A quick and smooth starting of the engine is a good sign. As soon as the engine is fired up, the first step is to check for exhaust wastes. We need to identify whether the exhaust muffler is throwing any smoke or not. No smoke is good and this will happen in a warm weather. The car will throw water drops depending on the tuning and engine health but no smoke. We need to rev the car to see what kind of smoke is coming out of the exhaust muffler. Let’s discuss the smokes quickly.

Blue Smoke: If you see blue smoke coming out of the exhaust pipe then that’s a big concern. This is most likely to happen when the engine is burning oil due to failed piston rings. Cars with such engine health should be avoided.

Blue Smoke
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Black Smoke: Black smoke means the car is running rich on fuel and burning too much carbon. Not good for the environment but not a bad news. Such vehicles require good air flow and fuel tuning.

Black Smoke
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White Smoke: We shouldn’t worry about white smoke at all. White smoke appears only when the weather is cold and because of the reaction of the cold weather and the warm air exhausting through the pipe.

White Smoke
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Alright, we are done with our initial inspection. If all seems good then we check other signs of a good engine health. An engine with good life remaining in it will always have a smooth feel. While revving the engine, you will hear a noise soothing to the ears; distinct from other unwanted noises from different parts of engine.

Next step is to the check the head gasket of the vehicle. The easiest way to do this is by taking off the radiator cap when the engine is not warm and firing up the vehicle. A leaked gasket will make the water in the radiator bubbly and you will see air bubbles popping up without any pause. In the worst case scenario, you might even experience the water shooting out of the radiator.

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While you are inspecting the radiator, also check the quality of the radiator coolant. Clean coolant means the radiator is properly taken care of. It’s not blocked and the fluid is regularly flushed. In addition to this inspection, also remove the oil cap and look inside the engine. You will be able to see valves but inspect the engine oil. If the head gasket is leaked, then the coolant mixes up with the engine oil creating a pink colored gum like liquid. It is strictly recommended not to go for a vehicle with a leaked or blown head gasket.

Also Read: Consumer Advice | Part I | Want To Buy A Car? Here’s How To Examine Its Exterior

Test Drive

It is very important to take the vehicle on a test drive. This will help in multiple ways. It is recommended to use a bumpy road for test drive. Tells exactly how is the suspension of the vehicle. You get to know how silent or noisy is the passenger cabin and most importantly the drive helps in understanding if the engine is performing up to the mark and you get to know about the transmission.


It is important to take a look at the interior. If you are lucky, you will get to have a very clean interior; a good music system installed is a huge plus. Otherwise getting the interior detailed and a new set of seat covers or floor mats isn’t much of a deal.

All the information above is only useful information for the beginners. It might not 100% work for everyone that is why it is highly recommended to always take a professional with you for a credible inspection and opinion. Remember the following while inspecting any vehicle. Avoid vehicles which require paint and body work, new tires and rims, requires the head gasket to be repaired or has an unhealthy engine. These are all every expensive repairs and upgrades and don’t really add to the value of the car because market price of every car is already set; it may go down but rarely goes up.


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