Saturday, January 30, 2010

the work-horse

On torsion bar suspension cars, check the front beams for any signs of collision damage, because this can adversely affect the suspension geometry. You'll need to raise the front of the car and use a torch for illumination in order to see the beams. Another sure sign of front-end collision include corrugated flitch panels – turn the steering to full lock and take a look inside the front wings above and to the rear of the bumper mounts.

if you seek a low-cost Beetle to put into immediate daily use, then the state of the mechanical and electrical Components automatically assumes greater importance than it does in the case of the restoration car. If you were to buy an older car with a predominance of tired and worn components, then these would inevitably fail one by by one at unpredictable intervals and the car would never prove reliable. The more recent the car, the better.
The best advice would be to concentrate on finding a low mileage recent car (1302, 1303 and S) which has a full service history (look for the letters FSH in advertisements), or one which has been owned for a long time by a competent and conscienscious DIY mechanic who has not skimped on regular servicing. Proper maintenance includes anticipating at what point in the near future various components are likely to give problems and replacing them before they fail. The vendors of such cars should be able to show you a series of invoices for spare parts (and labour charges if the maintenance has been carried out professionally) to prove that the car has been properly cared for.
The state of the bodywork in such cars is even more important than that of the mechanical components because, whilst a mechanical fault can mean taking the car off the road for perhaps one or two days whilst the fault is rectified, the rectification of bodyrot entails taking the car off the road for far longer – sometimes weeks, sometimes months, if the work has to be carried out on a DIY basis.
Most Beetles are now old enough to have received some degree of bodywork repair and you should assume that a viewed car will have had, or will soon require, such work. As with any other Beetle, you must be vigilant when looking for camouflaged bodyrot and poor repair.
It is advisable to accept from the outset that you are increasingly unlikely to be able to obtain a solid and reliable Beetle cheaply. The vendors of such cars will bear the maintenance plus any repair, new component or bodywork costs in mind when setting the price. In the long run, it is usually cheaper to pay a fair price for a good car than it is to buy the cheapest you can find and suffer a constant stream of repair bills when it breaks down.Avoid cars which have been off the road for any length of time because as previously stated most mechanical, hydraulic and electrical componentsactually age far less when the car is in regular use than they do if the car is left standing idle. Also best avoided are cars on which the vendor has recently spent a lot of money in mechanical repair; this indicates that a
majority of components have reached the end of their useful life and hence that components not repaired or replaced recently will also need attention.
Most large motoring associations will – for a fee –undertake mechanical and body surveys on cars on behalf of members. Motor engineers usually offer the same service. Both will furnish you with a written report on the state of a viewed car and, if you are not confident in your own ability to properly assess the condition of cars then the fee involved in commissioning such a survey could repay itself many times over.
Be wary of cars with brand-new test certificates: some – by no means all – of these cars may have had a minimal amount of work carried out so that they can scrape through the test (which makes them easier to sell) but they could be on the market because either they are unreliable or because the owner wishes to avoid looming repair bills.
Several companies in the UK sell Beetles which they have 'sorted' the mechanics of in-house, and these usually come with a guarantee and can be safe buys. Other companies sell Beetles which they have fully restored and these, too, are a good option for those who want a reliable car. In both cases it pays to deal with companies which are situated fairly close to your home; you don't want to have to drive (or trailer) the car for miles if you have problems with it.

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