Buying a classic Mustang/car
#1
While it's always recommended to have a professional inspect any classic car you intend to buy, there are a few things you can check out fairly easily on your own. This procedure is great to have in mind if you're considering a fully restored classic.
Mechanical Condition
One of the firsts things you'll want to check are the obvious mechanical problems. Look under the car and examine the driveline, ensure that the hoses and belts are in good shape, test all the hinges and latches for functionality, and make sure you don't see any fluid leaks.

Electrical Condition
This one is a little easier -- test the lights, including the interior lights (if applicable), look the battery over for corrosion, and make sure any electronics are working the way they should. Don't forget to test out the turn signals if the car has them. Does the car start? Is there any ignition problem?

Vehicle ID
Now we're getting into some tougher stuff. You'll want to verify that the car is what the current owner claims it is. Serial numbers, model numbers, the model year -- all of these should be verified. If you aren't able to find a reliable resource to check with, you'll need to contact a professional classic car inspection agency. In addition, you'll want to be clear on the status of the car's title.

Accident Damage and Repairs, Restoration History
Accident history is always an important factor for a car, no matter what year it was built. If it has a history of fender-benders, what repairs were done? Are they documented? Is the work high quality? Don't forget to gather all the information you can on any restoration work that was done.

Driving Inspection
Take the car for a spin. Make sure that the seat belts and other safety systems are completely functional. Test the brakes, the clutch, up- and down-shift, acceleration and idle. Listen for any unusual engine noises and make note of problems you detect. You might need to take a few moderately tight corners -- nothing dangerous -- to check out the suspension.

Interior Condition
Take your time. Look under and between the seats, the trunk, and the dash. Check out the glove box and any other storage area. Make sure the carpet and upholstery is in good condition, that the radio works, the instrument panel is functional, and that the steering column is in great shape.

Body Condition
This is usually a lot of fun. In this step you'll be looking all over the exterior of the car, including the underside, searching for rust and other big problems. Verify that the badging and insignias are all solidly attached, as well as the chrome. Give the bumpers a good tug to ensure that they are functional and solid. Inspect the tires for treadwear and sidewall condition. Finally, don't neglect the paint finish.

Be a Pain
Ask lots of questions, look for documentation, and be firm without being rude. Keep your emotions in check and try to remain focused on what you're doing. Don't let any pressure get to you -- if someone pressures you into a buy, they may be hiding something and trying to get you to make a deal before you find out what it is.

Here's a good check list:

1. Ask to see all paperwork and documentation.
* Make sure the VIN matches other VIN's on the vehicle and paperwork (original/no alterations)
* If the car has been restored, ask for any pictures taken before, during and after
* Check service history for repairs, oil changes and scheduled maintenance
2. Start the car.
* Check for smoke coming from the exhaust
* Listen to the engine idle quality when cold and hot
* Rev the engine; is it smooth? Document any noises
* Keep it running until the engine is hot and check for exhaust smoke again
3. Take the car for a road test.
* Inspect engine performance and acceleration
* Listen for engine noise at high/low speeds
* Listen for automatic transmission/transaxle noise
* Is the automatic transmission shifting smoothly
* Listen for drive axle and transfer case bearings or gear noise/vibration
* Check the manual clutch for engagement, chatter or slippage
* Test the steering for responsivness/smoothness/play
* Test brakes for effectiveness/operation/noise/pulling
* Check gauge operation; Speedometer/Tachometer/Odometer
* Document temp/oil/battery gauges when hot and cold
* Check the suspension on a rough road
4. Visually inspect the exterior.
* Check everywhere for rust
* Visually inspect for repairs or damage
* Check body panels for dings, dents, alignment, mismatched paint and overall paint condition
* A magnet can detect any filler used in repaired dents
* Inspect for chrome damage, alignment and improper repairs
* Open and close doors/hood/trunk/tailgate for proper operation
* Inspect grill/trim/molding for bends, dings, missing parts and proper attachment
* Inspect the windshield and side and rear windows for damages, pitting, repairs, wiper marks or cracks
* Check the mirrors condition and hinge operation
5. Check to make sure all interior/exterior lights are operational.
* Head lights, high and low beams
* Tail lights
* Brake lights
* Parking lights
* Hazard lights
* Reverse lights
* Turn signals
* License late lights
* Fog/Driving lights
* Interior lights
* Dashboard lights
* Check for cracked or clouded lenses
6. Inspect the interior.
* Are the seat belts operational
* Test audio/alarm/speaker systems
* Test heating/ventilation/AC/defogger/defroster
* Is the clock keeping time
* Check the horn
* Inspect the lighter/power outlets condition/operation
* Inspect glove box/glove box light/hinges
* Inspect armrest/console condition/operation
* Is steering tilt/lock operational
* Check rear view mirror condition
* Check fuel filler door release
* Check that all door handles operate
* Inspect interior trim/carpet/floor mats/door panels/headliner/sun visors
* Make sure that the automatic/manual door locks are functional
7. Inspect all leather/vinyl/material.
* Check the condition of seat upholstery for wear/rips/cracks/fading/stains
* Check the dashboard/door/headliner for splitting or water damage
* Inspect sunroof/moon roof/convertible top
* Inspect convertible tops condition/operation/fit
* Check convertible top boot
8. It’s time to open up the hood.
* Check for oil leaks
* Inspect air filter for oil
* Check the oil for water/sludge/clarity/level.
* Inspect timing belt/chain.
* Check all fluid levels.
* Inspect belts for wear and fraying.
* Check hoses.
* Inspect wiring.
* Inspect engine mounts.
* Look for water pump leaks.
* Pressure test radiator cap.
* Look for fuel pump leaks.
* Inspect fuel filter.
9. Kicking the tires.
* Inspect tires for correct size/tread depth/pressure
* Check the tires for abnormal wear
* Inspect condition of valve stems
* Do all the tires match
* Does the spare match
* While you’re checking the spare, inspect luggage compartment for rust
* Is there a jack or tools
10. Don’t forget the car’s rubber parts
* Check windshield wipers condition
* Inspect interior and exterior rubber trim for splitting

Extra Tips:

1. If at any time during your inspection the seller tries to point you in a different area of the car or wants you to take their “word” that something is in good working condition, that's a signal to look more closely. Only when you have completed a checklist like this will you have a good understanding of the car’s imperfections.
2. Make copious notes on everything and discuss what you find with a trusted mechanic. He can then provide an estimate on any repair costs to assist in your negotiations with the seller.
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#2
I'm big into car history I want to see province I love paper work and documentation. Before I show'em the green I want to see the black and white.
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#3
I worked in Providence when I was a teenager - rough town, "the city with no pity." Best time to see Providence is in the fall. Lots of stuff going on - festivals and such....
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#4
LOL auto-correct LOL.
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