The Ultimate 6-Series Website

CHECKING OUT A CAR

by Greg Hutchinson <ghutchin@pacbell.net>

1. Look for any rust under the car, bottom of doors, tiny bubbles near the bottom of any body panel. Look down the sides of the car, around the battery area, and under the rear by the muffler to see if all the metal looks straight. Look under the hood to see if all the relays are the metal type or have been replaced with the newer plastic ones. Are all the hoses looking good - or are they cracked or swollen? Are the 2 sensors in the top right of the radiator white and red (stock)- or gray and white (best)? Can you catch the date on the battery? Any leaks or weeping? Did the hood try to hit you in the head or have the hood shocks been replaced recently?

2. Does the care still have the 14" wheels or has it been upgraded to 16" or larger? If larger wheels, and you can see through them, does it have bigger rotors on the front than the back? Hit the brakes at over 30mph. Any shimmy? When you do hit the brakes, do you feel as though you need to throw out an anchor to stop for the first couple seconds? (brake bomb).

3. Bounce on all 4 corners to check the shocks. Look at the front and rear bumper shocks if appropriate...are they REAL close to the body- like collapsed?

4. If auto, when was the tranny rebuilt? What's the fluid smell like? The 4HP22 averages about 100K or so before the pack goes. If manual, can you make spaghetti with the shifter or is it tight and crisp? Does the car jerk when you take off in first? (and it's not your technique!)

5. Go find a steep hill and nail the gas after starting up - any thumping under the seat? If so, does it go away when the gas pedal is lifted a bit?

6. In the cockpit.. Does the temperature knob have a little resistance or does it either spin merrily or not move at all. Does the heater motor increase in speed when the motor knob is rotated CW with the big blast coming when all the way to 3 o'clock. Does the AC motor kick in when you push the AC button? Does the antenna go up and down smoothly when radio is switched on/off? Fog lights work on low beam?

7. Emergency lights all flash?

8. Push the bottom left button on the OBC (On Board Computer) to the right of the radio. Should tell the outside temp. Wait about 5 seconds and the time should come back on; then hit the next button up: should tell you what gas mileage its been getting lately. On the other side of the steering wheel find the check panel. Touch the very bottom button and see if all the lights light up. Any little red lights stare at you after you've started the car and tapped the brakes?

9. Do a ll the windows and mirror buttons work and their motors whirl properly? Window glass fit tight against the rubber? How about all the seat buttons including the headrest? Seat backs go back the same distance and angle at the same time? Seats go forward and backwards very smoothly?

10. Pull down on lever under steering wheel column. Can you move the wheel in and out a few inches? (Put the lever back when finished!!)

11. How far up does the emergency brake handle go...more than 8 clicks?

12. Rear speaker covers still form- fitted or lifting at the edges? Front dash have any cracks up front? Sunroof smoothly operates in both modes? Does the middle top of the SR have any scratches from a bad adjustment?

13. With the temp knob all the way CCW and going down the road, any heat coming from under dash? In the temp gauge, does the temp needle stay around the middle or wander over to the way far right with the car warmed up and at idle?

14. All three air levers move back and forth with only a little resistance. At speed, air comes in strong with the levers all the way to the right? Turn blower knob full CW, move middle lever to far left, and turn the temp knob all the way CW, heat everywhere? Turn temp knob back full CCW and hit AC button - freezing?

15. Drive through a clothless car wash or find a thunderstorm - any leaks - glove box, sunroof, windows? With the windshield wipers on momentary (lowest) do the wipers move smoothly or jerk. While your hand is down at that lever - take hold of the next one down and see if the cruise control lever is loose.

16. Central locking works all around the car - including the gas door? Driver's door lock works in 2 positions CW while passenger in only one. Any tools in the tool kit in the trunk lid? Got a spare tire that matches the size of the 4 on the ground? Jack in the left side trunk pocket?

17. Cold engine starts quickly - warms up with little hesitation, no smoke of any color out the back. Normal small shaking at idle but goes away immediately when the gas is applied with no hesitation all the way to redline. Engine is bullet proof if you just change the oil once a decade or so (5K actually).

18. Any hard clicking from the rear of the cam cover? Have mechanic check for cam wear. Check front bushing wear, and O2..if O2 is good, then most likely the engine is sound IF the cam is also quiet. Have a look under the car. What's leaking/weeping? Any rust spots? What's the number on the rear diff (look for LS) and model number of the tranny? Motor and diff mounting rubber OK? See black gummy stuff in the bottom generator pivot.

19. That should get you started. Any price between a willing seller and a willing buyer is a good price, just do your homework first. More obvious parts are paint condition, tire life, and interior condition cosmetics. Most is just money to repaint, replace, or recover. The mechanics are what makes this car a pleasure to drive.