A Checklist for Buying Used Diesel Cars

January 27, 2012

Looking at buying used diesel cars? As people are continuing to fight against the rising prices of gasoline, diesel powered engines are becoming a lot more popular. Many people are looking at buying a used diesel car to see if it is something that they are going to like.

Key Factors to Review When Buying a Diesel Vehicle

Is buying diesel used cars a little different than buying a regular used car? Here are some key factors to look at when looking into buying a used diesel vehicle.

Look at Exhaust
A diesel car will burn the diesel a little different than a gas engine. Because the diesel fuel is a lot thicker than gas, there is a small amount of black soot that is emitted from the exhaust. Look at the exhaust to see if there is an excessive build up of soot on the vehicle. If so, then there is a problem with the engine combustion or in the exhaust itself.

Look into the Oil
A big factor that will tell if something is wrong is the diesel used cars oil. Take a look at the dipstick and see what color the oil is. If you notice a little bit of white, or a milky substance on the stick, then you will want to keep walking to another vehicle. This means that there is some internal problems with the engine and it will need to be replaced. You can also look under the vehicle to see if any of the oil is leaking. A quick look around the engine compartment for tell tale signs of oil around the gaskets is another sign of a problem.

Try to Start the Car
A common problem with diesel used cars is that they are notoriously bad starters in the cold. Since diesel fuel is thicker than regular gas, it will get much thicker and harder to move through the lines when it is very cold. Try starting the vehicle from a cold start to see how it cranks over. If it takes a long time, then there are problems with some of the glow plugs in the head. These can be replaced, but are expensive to do so.

Look at Radiator
The fluid inside the radiator should be clean and without a lot of gunk in it. If you see that the coolant is not a consistent color, there are streaks in it, or it is lumpy with gunk and oil, then you will want to keep looking at another type of vehicle.

Exhaust Smoke
When the car is running you will see what kind of exhaust is coming from it. A light black color is good, but if it is too thick, or has a white color, then there is a problem within the engine. It could be that the fuel/air ratio is off, but it could be that the cylinders need to be bored or replaced.

General Handling
Take the used diesel out for a test drive to see how it handles. Also look for any excessive smoke, especially when starting from a stop. Feel for any vibrations, how the steering works, and for any hesitations in the power.

Tips for Avoiding Lemons

Today there are a lot of buyers looking into used diesel cars. This is mostly due to the fact that gas prices are escalating dramatically. Preple are looking for ways to conserve gas and save money in the process. Diesel engines have a much better fuel economy rating that regular gas engines. If you are in the market for used diesel cars, here are a few things to look out for to avoid some of the lemons sitting in the used car lots.

Always Ask for a History Report
You might have seen the commercials already, but asking for a vehicle history report, like a CarFax, will give you a good look at what the car has been through. This means any floods, repairs, accidents, and even recalls associated with the vehicle. A lot of dealers will not volunteer this information because they have a good idea already about the condition of the car. You must ask for it. Do this before you start talking, or even looking, at a used diesel car.

Check the Kelly Blue Book
This is a good place to start when looking at the perceived value of used diesel cars. While it is not as accurate as it once was, you will know if the car you are looking it is overpriced.

Check Local Prices
A better view of what the car should be valued at is to look at the local prices and what used diesel cars are actually selling for. These are real world numbers and will show you two things. First, you will see if the car you are looking at is overpriced on the lot. Second, you will see if the car is underpriced on the lot. While it may seem like a good thing that a car is underpriced, it is also an indicator that something is wrong with it and the dealer wants to sell it quickly.

Look at Signs
There are some signs that a used diesel engine is going to give you some problems. Look at exhaust marks on the side of the car. Check for any cracks in the firewall, or along the block itself. Look at signs of oil be splattered around the engine compartment. Look under the car itself for signs of leaks and even pieces of metal.

Look at Fluids
Two major fluids in used diesel engines are the coolant and oil. Take a look at both of these fluids to see if anything internal is going wrong. Coolant that has streaks with a lot of gunk in it is not a good sign. Also, if the oil has some white coloring, or is milky in texture, there is a problem with the engine.

Check the Tires
Tires are a very good indicator on used cars. Look at the tread wear and see if the vehicle has problems staying in alignment, or vibrates a lot. Too much wear on the inside, or outside of the tread problem is an indication of handling problems. A cupping of the tire tread is an indication of some vibrations.

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