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Get an oil analysis before buying a used car Advertiser Disclosure Advertiser Disclosure We are an independent, advertising-supported comparison service. Our goal is to help you make better financial choices by offering you financial calculators and interactive tools, publishing original and objective content. We also allow you to conduct research and compare data at no cost – so that you can make financial decisions with confidence. Bankrate has agreements with issuers, including but not limited to, American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citi and Discover. How We Make Money The deals that are displayed on this site are from companies that pay us. This compensation could affect how and when products are featured on this site, including for instance, the order in which they may appear within the listing categories and other categories, unless prohibited by law. This applies to our mortgage home equity, mortgage and other home loan products. But this compensation does affect the information we publish, or the reviews that you see on this site. We do not include the vast array of companies or financial offerings that could be available to you.

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3 minutes read. Published March 29, 2022

Authored by Kellye Guinan. Written by Personal and Business Finance contributor

Kellye Guinan is a freelance editor and writer with over 5 years experience working in the field of personal finance. She’s also a full-time librarian at the local library where she helps her community get information about financial literacy, as well as other topics.

The edit was done by Rhys Subitch Edited by Auto loans editor

Rhys has been writing and editing for Bankrate since late 2021. They are dedicated to helping readers gain the confidence to take control of their finances with precise, well-researched and accurate facts that break down complicated subjects into digestible pieces.

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A thorough analysis of engine oil provides an insight into various issues. It can identify contaminants that are leaked in the engine such as antifreeze or gasoline. It can assess whether the oil and air filters are functioning effectively. It can also determine what small metal particles have worn off the inside of the engine, and if the levels are above, below, or even average for the kind of engine and the mileage. If you can spot potential costly issues, you will be able to avoid that may become a puddle of mechanical issues. Three reasons to have an oil test prior to buying a second-hand car. It might not be the most common advice when shopping for a used car however, an oil analysis could reveal a lot. The quality of the engine can be quickly checked with an oil analysis. Your decision to buy an automobile should be based on the analysis, and oil analysis can provide helpful insight into the performance that the vehicle has. 1. Assess the condition of the engine primary reason to have an oil analysis performed is to evaluate the engine’s health. The analysis of oil will look for oxidation, concentration of metal particles and the quality of the lubrication, among other indicators. An owner who was previously in the vehicle should have maintained their engine and regularly scheduled oil adjustments. The oil test — as well as the mechanic’s logs- are a good evidence that the car was well-maintained. 2. Prevent and detect potential issues Prevent potential problems with used cars, particularly older models, may not have been properly maintained from previous owners. If you can confirm a health engine ensures that you’re not purchasing a vehicle that may not last. In addition to checking the engine’s current health, you may be able to identify potential issues in the future. Even something as simple as knowing the frequency of your next oil changes could be helpful to ensure the health of your vehicle. 3. Cost-effective or included with the purchase of a used car dealerships may provide an oil test as part of the package similar to receiving an auto history report. In this case the cost could be low or worked into the cost of administration. Either way, you will get the results without having to do any extra effort on your part. If the dealer doesn’t offer the service, you can purchase an oil analysis kit for yourself. It could take longer to get an analysis, however it’s worth it, particularly when the seller doesn’t keep track of their appointments with the mechanic. How to conduct an oil analysis An oil analysis can be done by a mechanic or with an at-home kit. If you have it completed by mechanics, the main step will be waiting for the analysis to be completed and the results. If you do it yourself, you should review the instructions on the kit and view a few instructional videos. But here are the basic steps for warming up the engine, and then take a sample of the oil by using the tubing provided with your kit. Send the sample to a reputable laboratory. See if the results are satisfactory- around two to three daysand then read the report. The report may include helpful feedback, but if don’t fully understand the results it’s best to consult the mechanic for a professional opinion. What to do if the results aren’t stellar The choice to proceed with the purchase is entirely up to you. All vehicles, whether old or new, will require maintenance. The analysis of oil could identify potential issues, but if they aren’t too expensive or exceed what you’re expecting to spend the cost could be worthwhile to purchase the car — especially if it meets your other requirements. If the price of maintenance is too high and you don’t have a reason to, that you have to go through with the purchase. There are many ways to fix problems and you could end up in a position to pay much more than what the vehicle is worth if you regularly have to take it to a mechanic. Consider the cost of regular maintenance against the expense of engine problems that could or may not occur. But if you’re financing the vehicle, be aware that the extra money spent on repairs could put you — leading to greater financial burden later on. The next steps at the end of the day, an analysis of the oil only provides some insight about the long-term future your vehicle and the quality of its engine. It’s a helpful diagnostic tool when you’re shopping for a used car. However, it’s not the sole tool. Make sure to thoroughly review every one of the safety and mechanical aspects of a vehicle -and also the accident history — before making a decision to buy it. Related articles:

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Written by Personal and business finance contributor

Kellye Guinan is a freelance editor and writer with over 5 years experience working in the field of personal financial matters. She also works full-time as a librarian at the local library which she assists her local community to gain access to information on financial literacy, as well as other subjects.

Edited by Rhys Subitch Edited by Auto loans editor

Rhys has been writing and editing for Bankrate from late 2021. They are committed to helping readers gain the confidence to control their finances through providing precise, well-researched and researched information that breaks down complicated subjects into digestible pieces.

Auto loans editor

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