Engine & Gearbox Test drive – buying a used Honda.

Discussion in '6th Generation (1997-2002)' started by hondream, Saturday 23rd Mar, 2013.

  1. hondream Valued Contributor ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

    Simon Walsall

    When going to buy a used car, how do you go about testing/looking at it. Typically this will about 30-60 minutes.
    What do you look for, and how do you go about it.

    I’m looking to get a 6/7th generation Honda accord.

    Things that are important to me are:-
    1) Does it use an excessive amount of engine oil, and how can I find that out in 30 minutes?
    2) Is the engine ok?
    3) Is the automatic gearbox ok?
    4) Leaks (oil/coolant). I hate leaks.
    5) Does it use/loose any coolant.
    6) Rust. As welding can be expensive.
    7) Bushes, ball joints, suspension bits.
    8) Dodgy MOT passes.
    9) I’m sure there are others.

    Any info/you-experience would be useful.


    PS- ideally i'd like to drive for 2 months, and then I would know exactly what the car is like. Obviously, that's not going to happen in real life, unless you're getting it from a family member.
  2. SpeedyGee Administrator Staff Team

    England Speedy Birmingham
    Every model of car has a list of common faults, make sure you research the particular model of car your looking for.

    Then when you check the car you can look out for these common issues.
  3. Chunkylover53 Club Veteran ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    Speaking from a 6th Generation perspective

    1) Does it use an excessive amount of engine oil, and how can I find that out in 30 minutes?
    The car in general uses quite a lot of oil if used daily, hard revved or used primarily for short journeys
    2) Is the engine ok?
    Get an ODB2 reader and check for any fault codes?
    3) Is the automatic gearbox ok?
    6th Generation definetely had some issues in the past with the auto box from what I've read, I own manual so cannot provide view.
    4) Leaks (oil/coolant). I hate leaks.
    Just look for rust on the radiator and look under the car if possible
    5) Does it use/loose any coolant.
    Same as above tbh.
    6) Rust. As welding can be expensive.
    Just take a digital camera with flash and take pictures on the underside of the vehicle, or jack the car up.
    7) Bushes, ball joints, suspension bits.
    Not entirely sure, you may feel something as you ride. Go hard and fast around corners, also push all 4 sides of the vehicle down and see if they return to the original place without bobbing up then down etc.
    8) Dodgy MOT passes.
    Obtain an MOT number, coupled with the reg no. it can be used to search all the MOT records from 2006 on the government site

    Hope this helps, by no means comprehensive though so look at the sticky threads in the 6th and 7th Generation sections.
    9) I’m sure there are others.
  4. candobill Valued Contributor ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

    everything can have faults, its all about what you want and are prepared to deal with :Wink:

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    I bought my accord at an auction without driving it or seen before, but it had 9 months MOT and 5 months tax. only after I took it on the road and I was over the moon with what I had even with its faults :Happy:

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    theres a good chance I might charged with daylight robbery :Happy: :Happy:
    Chunkylover53 likes this.
  5. ArcticFire Club Veteran ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    Scotland Graham Scotland
    The general process I usually follow (before looking out for model specific faults) are:

    1. Make sure the engine hasn't been warmed up before your arrival
    2. Go round the whole car and check exterior for any bumps and also that everything lines up nicely. Check all gaps between panels are equal.
    3. Check serviceable items at each corner (tyres, pads, discs, shocks springs). Easily fixable but four bald tyres can cost you an extra £500
    4. Check underneath for leaks and rust including the exhaust - give it a shake.
    5. Open bonnet and check everything is clean and leak free. Check underside of oil filler cap for mayonnaise which may indicate blown head gasket.
    6. Check fluids are all at the correct level, if possible check Air Filter as it's a quick indication of how it's been serviced. Also check belts.
    7. Get someone else to start car whilst you stand at engine and listen to the cold start for any strange noises, rattles etc.
    8. Quickly hop round to the rear and observe the exhaust smoke which may indicate problems.
    9. Using a rag, cover the rear exhaust and make sure the revs drop to help eliminate a blown exhaust.
    10. Moving inside the car check every single button and switch including electric seats, mirrors. Check all windows work, check all the rear demister lines work. Check the floor for dampness. Check lights all work, inside and out. Check horn. Check locks etc. Check that the Air Con works. Check the boot for water and also that the boot lid closes without any problems in case of a rear end repair.
    11. Check gearbox goes into each gear including reverse. Whilst in each gear move the gearstick from left to right to make sure there's little play. If it's like stirring soup then walk away.
    12. Check handbrake works by putting it on, going into 1st and applying a little power. Observe biting point of clutch pedal also as a high biting point may indicate a worn clutch.

    13. Test drive. Turn off car then turn back to ignition, make sure all the dash lights go out. Now, all the usual stuff, make sure full lock with the steering works, make sure reverse gear works. Go through all the gears and make sure they work.
    14. Try pulling away in third gear to see if the clutch slips. If the revs increase instead of the car trying to stall then the clutch is probably gone.
    15. Check all the safety features: emergency brake for the ABS, fast launch to ensure traction control works etc.
    16. Get up to 60-70mph and check for vibrations. If so then it could just be balancing but if the alloys are damaged then there's more serious wonga needed to fix.
    17. Check the engine temperature once the car is warmed up.
    18. Once fully warmed up check the car's performance and take it up to the red line. If the owner won't allow this then walk away. A car should be able to safely and comfortably go up to the red without risk and the cut out will prevent any damage. It's not like you are asking to redline it every day for a month before buying. Just once or twice so you can listen out for any noises whilst under load.

    I'll then add up the cost of anything that needs to be done and use this as my bargaining tool. There's probably more but this is the stuff I do which just seems to be second nature. I forgot to check the Air Con with my recent purchase and it doesn't work. Typical! lol It's got a 2 month warranty which is their own and apparently it's a fully comprehensive warranty unlike these 3rd party ones. We'll wait and see though! lol

    I knew the rear tyres on my car were close to the limit so I negotiated money off for this. There was a small dent in the rear arch which I negotiated they try and sort and they've managed to pull it about 90% out and it's now pretty much unnoticeable.

    As much as I dislike the Honest John website, you can find a list of common faults for each car under the Bad Points section. Can be handy as a general guide to warrant further investigation. He also usually covers recalls also.

    Hope this helps :Smile:

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    I bought my wife's car at auction also! The body work has obviously had some panels replaced, probably a crash of some sort, but she's a terrible driver and only doing local runs so that didn't bother us. It seemed to be mechanically and structurally sound so we got it. So far it's only had a battery replaced lol I think the oxygen sensor needs replaced now which I can get for about £70 and is a very simple screw in job but for a 1999 car I reckon this is pretty good for the 2+ years she's had it.
    Last edited: Friday 15th Nov, 2013
    AndyB1976 likes this.
  6. exec Club Veteran ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

    United Kingdom London
    RE autobox, make sure there isn't any kind of slipping and hunting of gears, any jerks or thunks, the boxes should be smooth and effortless in their operation.