This is an inspection list of "what to look at when purchasing a Model A". It is not meant to be a "do not buy because... list" If nothing else the list may help with price negotiation.
Model A's are particular on their own. Keep it original and any Model Aer can help you fix it. Specialties require special mechanics.
- Join a local club.
- When looking at a vehicle bring along someone who is knowledgeable.
- Do not buy the first car you see there are many good deals out there
- Decide on what you want a show car or a good daily driver
- Decide what year you want. The 1928-29’s look more antique and the 1930-31’s look more sleek.
- Decide what body style: Trucks are nice for hauling- Sedans are good for going out with friends- Roadsters and phaetons are nice when the weather is nice
- Become familiar with the value of a Model A. Search Ebay, Craigslist and Hemmings
- Don’t buy a “basket case”. Restored cars are less expensive in the long run.
- Look at the car in the daylight. Do not be fooled by a nice paint job.
- Look into the cost of insurance and make sure you are insured before taking it home
- Most important of all, verify that the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the car matches the VIN number on the paperwork. If buying out of state know your states title process. Do this before you buy, the difficulty of the process can be a game changer.
- Ask if the engine bearings are Babbitt or inserts (Pros and Cons on both, worth noting)
- Check the fan. If it is an original fan, look for fatigue cracks. (cracked fans should be replaced with a new aluminum ones)
- Inspect the radiator for small leaks.
- Check the water in the radiator, it should not be frothy.
- Check the water pump for leak
- Check the steering gear box for oil level (A tell on how well it is maintained)
- Pull the dipstick and check the condition the oil. The oil should not be frothy.
- Look at wiring it should be simple and straightforward, fancy gadgets should not be attached to the firewall
- Inspect where the head meets the engine block. Brown ooze indicates blown head gasket
- Check exhaust pipe for oil and/or coolant
- Use a screwdriver and/or stethoscope and listen for valve/tappet noise
- When running check for oily/smokey exhaust
- Check if engine number matches year of car
Outside the Car
- Proper paint scheme helps with resale
- Look for door sag/alignment.
- Correct body parts for the year and body type.
- rotten sheet metal
- Check the front fenders along the bead for patches
- Look under the fender for patches and welded cracks
- When the doors are shut the handles on the outside should be level
- Check for even wear on tires
Under the Car:
- Frame condition: Bent, Sagging, Cracks, Reinforcements Welds, Heavily Pitted and/or Corroded
- Wheels: Bent, Pitted, Missing and/or Bent Spokes
- Transmission and rear end: (Small leaks are permissible on transmission)
- Check gearbox oil level (A tell on how well it is maintained)
- Check that it has all four shocks, filled with fluid and working (Expensive to replace)
- Jack the front of the car up, grab the front wheels at the tops and push/pull laterally back and forth to check the spindles.
- Check looseness of pitman arm, drag link, and tie rod ball.
- Look for bent brake rods
- Look for dry joints where it should have been greased (A tell on how well it is maintained)
- Look for oil running down the rear backing plates or drums
- Look for incorrect bolts and missing cotter pins
- Look for rusted out floor pans
- If the seller allows, pull a brake drum or two to inspect
- Inspect front and rear spring and perch bushings
In the Car:
- Check for gas leaks where the steering column and petcock are riveted to the gas tank (You will see brown stains)
- Windshield should open and close
- Windows should open and close
- Bump the door lightly to make sure it remains shut
- Inspect the interior rips, tears and or improper or missing screws
- Start the Model A it should start easily
- Move the spark advance lever all the way up and all the way down, you should notice a difference in the sound of the engine
- Close the GAV and the engine should want to starve for gas
- Check to see if the generator is charging
- Check all lights
- Check to make sure the horn works
- Check operation of windshield wiper
- Check gas gauge to make sure it works
- The clutch should have about 1 inch of play before engaging
- The clutch should not chatter when engaged
- Before moving any distance, check to make sure you have brakes
- Bring the vehicle up to speed and check your stopping distance. It should stop smoothly and in a straight line
- The steering should not have more than 2 inch play
- The Model A should steer easily and not shimmy
- The vehicle should run smooth/strong and relatively quiet
- Whine the engine out between shifts and listen for excessive gear noise
- The transmission should never pop out of gear. Test: going uphill, downhill and over a bump
- When traveling over a bump the A should not pull, jump or shimmy
- Take it up a long hill to see if it boils over.
- A stock/restored Model A will easily do 55 mph and ride very close to a normal car.
- After test ride and being parked, there should not be more than a quarter coin sized puddle under the flywheel housing.