How to determine engine health when buying a used car

On Behalf of | Aug 8, 2023 | Car Shopping

You can’t ignore the engine’s health when purchasing a used car. A reliable engine ensures the overall performance and longevity of the vehicle. 

Unfortunately, some dealers may not disclose everything they know. When this happens, there are laws to protect you; however, knowing the signs of a healthy engine can help you avoid a buying mistake. Here are some essential steps to help you assess the engine’s health and make an informed decision. 

Comprehensive inspection

Before anything else, perform a thorough visual inspection of the engine bay. Look for signs of leaks, rust or excessive wear. Check the color and level of the engine oil; black or milky oil may indicate potential issues. Additionally, inspect the serpentine belt and battery for any visible damage.

Connecticut emissions testing

In Connecticut, emissions testing is mandatory for used cars. Ensure the vehicle has passed the emissions test, indicating that the engine is running efficiently and producing fewer harmful emissions.

Engine diagnostic scans

Ask the seller for permission to conduct an engine diagnostic scan using an OBD-II scanner. This scan provides valuable insights into any existing or potential engine problems, including sensor malfunctions, error codes and overall engine performance.

Compression test

Performing a compression test can help determine the engine’s internal condition. It measures the pressure in each cylinder and identifies any leaks or potential issues with valves, piston rings or head gaskets. It’s crucial to ensure that the seller provides an accurate vehicle history report. Avoid private sales without warranties, as lemon laws may not apply.

By following these steps, you can make a well-informed decision when buying a used car, ensuring the engine’s health and your driving satisfaction for years. If you discover issues after buying a vehicle, get to know your legal rights.